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

The politics of fear

In a chat with my boss earlier this week I told him that for the first time in my career I am actually wondering about my personal safety.

Watch your mailbox for info on Fire Hall Project Referendum

The newsletter provides a chart that shows the estimated tax amount a household would pay based on the assessed value of their property.

Voters’ guides are in the mail

Voters with questions about the Referendum on Electoral Reform are encouraged to contact Elections BC.

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

B.C. has only one bricks-and-mortar marijuana store

Town Council candidates draw a crowd

More than 200 people filed into Prince Charles Theatre to learn more about Creston Town Council election candidates.

VIDEO: How to roll a joint

The cannabis connoisseur shares his secrets to rolling the perfect joint

Parole denied for convicted killer-rapist Paul Bernardo after 25 years in prison

Paul Bernardo plead for release on Wednesday by arguing he has done what he could to improve himself during his 25 years in prison.

Man holds newborn son for first time after devastating B.C. racetrack crash

Kayden was born the day after Jonathan was crushed by car at speedway

Smooth start to legal cannabis in B.C., Mike Farnworth says

Online and government store makes 4,000 sales by noon

B.C. Lions look to cement CFL playoff spot with victory over Eskimos

B.C. can cement a post-season berth in the wild West Division on Friday night with a home win over the Edmonton Eskimos

Canada ban on asbestos takes effect but mining residues are exempt

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna plans to announce the new regulations implementing the ban on Thursday in Ottawa

Harry and Meghan bring rain to drought-stricken Outback town

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on day two of their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

Demand for legalized cannabis in early hours draws lineups, heavy web traffic

Government-run and privately operated sales portals went live at 12:01 a.m. local time across Canada, eliciting a wave of demand.

Killer-rapist Paul Bernardo set to make parole pitch today

Paul Bernardo, whose very name became synonymous with sadistic sexual perversion, is expected to plead for release on Wednesday.

Most Read