A rock the size of a small car obstructs the Trans-Canada Highway at Three Valley Gap, April 18, 2018. (Revelstoke Review)

B.C. Highway 1 widening to Alberta demanded for decades

Future sections to use union-only construction deal

Two sections of four-laning Highway 1 between Kamloops and the Alberta border are already underway, and residents are anxious to see other parts widened, such as the notorious Three Valley Gap near Revelstoke.

Sections through national parks east and west of Golden are the responsibility of Parks Canada, with the rest jointly funded by the B.C. and federal governments. The North Fork section from Sicamous to Revelstoke is underway, as is the Donald to Forde Station Rd. west of Golden.

Planning work is underway for sections east of Salmon Arm and Chase, and phase four of the Kicking Horse Pass route east of Golden, which has a reputation as some of the most difficult and expensive highway and bridge sections in North America.

B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena announced the start of work on Donald to Forde Station in April, with a price tag of $19.4 million to complete 2.5 km. A third of the money comes from Ottawa. Trevena said B.C. has committed $464 million over three years to “accelerate” upgrades to Highway 1.

A week before the announcement, a car-sized boulder landed on the highway at Three Valley Gap, the latest of many hazards where a pilot project to install protective mesh is underway this summer.

“That netting is not going to stop those boulders coming down,” Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok said at the time. “There need to be some geotechnical studies done there.”

RELATED: Three Valley Gap awaits rockfall solution

RELATED: Salmon Arm struggles with highway traffic

The Trans Canada sections are the first highway projects to be subject to the province’s new union-only major construction deal with the B.C. and Yukon Building Trades. The deal includes pre-set wages and benefits and a goal of 25 per cent apprentices on B.C. public construction projects.

Premier John Horgan says the arrangement is a remedy to “16 years of apprenticeship failure” under the previous B.C. Liberal government, and higher wages and benefits are needed to compete for skilled workers in a “hot” construction labour market.

“When we look at the track record of the B.C. Liberals on capital projects over the past number of years, virtually all of them were wildly over budget, and they were using temporary foreign workers or workers from outside British Columbia,” Horgan said. “So having local hire provisions, having a guarantee that we’re going to train people on site and we’re going to pay fair wages I think is going to help us in the days ahead.”

Horgan wouldn’t be pinned down on the extra costs, but Trevena has said the elaborate construction master agreement is expected to add between four and seven per cent to the cost of replacing the Pattullo Bridge between New Westminster and Surrey.

RELATED: B.C. NDP ‘helping its union friends’

Business and independent construction groups wrote an open letter to Horgan last week urging him to reconsider what they call “restrictive and regressive 1990s-style project labour agreements.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates that B.C. government projects over the next three years are expected to cost $25.6 billion, including between $2.4 billion and $4.8 billion as a result of the province’s agreement with 19 selected international unions.

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Canada West Construction Union, the Christian Labour Association of Canada, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association and other groups called on Horgan to “abandon this ill-conceived procurement model.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Delays on Highway 3 at Kootenay Pass

DriveBC reminding travellers the area is an active wildfire zone and warning of fallen debris.

New trial ordered for James Oler in B.C. child bride case

Meanwhile, appeals court dismisses Emily Blackmore’s appeal of guilty verdict

Firesmart program has homeowners ‘thinking like an ember’

RDCK offering free home assessments to protect homes from wildfires

Fire hall project questions

Questions for the ASC and the Town of Creston

Lost Dog fire 90 per cent contained

BC Wildfire Service is reporting this morning that the Lost Dog complex… Continue reading

Social media, digital photography allow millennials to flock to birdwatching

More young people are flocking to birdwatching than ever, aided by social media, digital photography

Vehicle fire on the Coquihalla

Heavy congestion in north bound lanes

East Kootenay fire victim honoured

Bradley Patrick Tipper remembered as gentle-hearted and generous

Lightning blamed for most recent regional fires

Southeast Fire Centre says 90 per cent of the 342 fires recently reported are lightning-caused

Prime minister greeted by B.C. premier as cabinet retreat begins

PM Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan meet in advance of federal cabinet meetings in Nanaimo

Are your kids anxious about going back to school?

BC Children’s Hospital offers tips to help your children be mindful and reduce stress

This trash heap in Vancouver could be yours for $3.9 million

Sitting atop 6,000 square feet, the home was built in 1912, later destroyed by fire

Team Canada’s next game postponed at Little League World Series

They’re back in action on Wednesday against Peurto Rico

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen pleads guilty in hush-money scheme

Said he and Trump arranged payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election

Most Read