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Award BC Place contract locally: Ironworkers

VANCOUVER - The contract for the steel fabrication of BC Place’s replacement roof should stay in the province to help a struggling trade, says Ironworkers Local 712, the union representing B.C. workers in the industry.

“It’s provincial money so we think that the home team should be favoured and that money should be used to put British Columbians to work,” said Rene Watteel, business manager for Local 712.

According to industry speculation, four companies are in the running, including two from B.C. and one each from Ontario and Quebec. The B.C. companies are thought to be George Third & Son from Burnaby and Delta-based Canron Western Constructors.

The list of companies bidding for the contract has not been released to the public, said Warren Buckley, CEO of PavCo, the provincial crown corporation that manages BC Place. Be he said it is understandable that those within the industry could speculate on the bidders.

“It’s not rocket science to find out who would have actually bid on a construction project of this size,” he said.

The union is asking for the contract to be awarded to one of the two B.C. companies, and Watteel estimated the project will support 150 jobs over two years, not to mention other economic spin-offs.

“It’s important to keep that work in this economy,” he said. “Jobs of this size are scarce right now. Hopefully this job will carry some people through the bad stretch.”

Pavco is aware of the concerns expressed by the union, said Buckley, adding that employment and local concerns will be considered.

“Within tender you take into consideration where the product comes from and the number of jobs generated,” he said.

But there are a number of factors that are at play given the multiple stages involved with the roof replacement, he said, with companies bidding on various parts which sometimes overlap.

“It is very complex so it’s an interesting process to go through and ensure that we’re doing proper due diligence in assessing these bids.”

Buckley is optimistic the roof replacement project will provide strong economic benefit to the province.

"There is just going to be a huge amount of work available to British Columbia," he said. "A lot of the work will be assembled and erected here and there will be sufficient jobs to go around."

The total cost of the roof replacement project is estimated to be worth $365 million.

The bid announcement is expected in the few weeks, and actual construction of the roof will begin shortly after the 2010 Olympics next February. Pavco has committed to having the project completed by the Spring of 2011.

Garrett Zehr reports for The Tyee

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