B.C. to sign whopping $1.5 billion Site C contract

Plus, flexible taxis in Vancouver and reduced carbon expectations

Dam decision
BC Hydro has awarded a $1.5 billion contract for the Site C dam, its largest contract ever, to a consortium called Peace River Hydro Partners, made up of ACCIONA Infrastructure Canada Inc., Calgary-based Petrowest Corporation and Samsung C&T Canada Ltd. The contract includes the earthfill dam, two diversion tunnels and a concrete foundation for the generating station and spillways. While Christy Clark Premier applauded the project for “creating thousands of jobs for our province,”; reiterating her commitment that has long said that B.C. workers should be first in line for the project, one of B.C.’s largest union-interest groups quickly took issue with the contract. “It’s a bad decision for B.C. and for B.C. workers,” said Tom Sigurdson, executive director for B.C. Building Trades. 

Instead of abiding to the pre-existing labour agreement, pioneered in the 1960s by former premier W.A.C. Bennett, Sigurdson said that Hydro had adopted a new construction model that threatened to cut the influence of unions. In Sigurdson’s view, that means fewer mechanisms to give B.C. workers priority. “Without a project labour agreement we doubt that BC workers will be given priority for Site C jobs,” Sigurdson said. “Skilled and experienced B.C. dam builders will be sitting idle while BC Hydro builds Site C with less experienced workers, many from outside BC and, we expect, many from offshore.”

Taxi please
Last night’s eight-hour SkyTrain power outage left many commuters scrambling for rides (and itchy for Uber). It’s also prompted the Vancouver Taxi Association to ask the City of Vancouver to introduce a flexible fleet of 200 cabs, that they will administer. They also plan to appeal to the Passenger Safety Board–again–for more wheelchair accessible taxis. Their goal? Two hundred more taxis available to meet the increased demand in December, all tied into their e-cab system and ready for “speedy and cashless” service.

No carbon copy
The province needs to lower its emission reduction target and keep carbon prices at their current price until 2020, or so stipulated the Business Council of B.C., which represents some of the province’s largest companies. The group believes that because most of B.C.’s electricity is supplied by hydro power, it will be harder for the province to lower emissions than jurisdictions like Alberta, that can convert coal-fired plants. B.C., they say, deserves somewhat of a pass, for having introduced a carbon tax in 2008 and now the highest in North America. (via Vancouver Sun)