March 2022 - ICBA


Each week, ICBA’s Jordan Bateman reflects on what we’ve learned as we participate in ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program. This program is free for all ICBA members – check out for details.

This month, ICBA Wellness looks at the link between mind and body, and how our diet and physical health can impact our mental health.

I can’t help but think of the work being done by Lincor Enterprises, one of our amazing ICBA members. Under the leadership of president Jon Walker, Lincor launched an industrial athlete program – helping their painters prepare for work. From the Journal of Commerce:

[Walker] teamed up with injury treatment experts Harry Hosker and Elliott Usher of Boot Room Consulting to create Lincor’s Industrial Athlete program.

The program starts with getting every participating employee’s health baseline with a screening at the UBC Allan McGavin Sports Physiotherapy clinic.

“Then they see where you are at, set goals to improve mobility, reduce injuries and design an individual stretching regime,” said Walker.

Participants check in every six months and weekly surveys are done to track progress and effectiveness. Lincor also worked to make the program accessible through Zoom, phone or text during working hours to be as convenient as possible.

The program also extends to the jobsite where crews perform warm-up and cool-down routines together rather than jumping into and out of work.

“Guys come in the morning and they start moving 50-pound paint buckets,” said Walker. “You wouldn’t go play hockey like that, so we thought why are people going to work every day and not doing that? It is crazy.”

Walker said crews started out feeling self-conscious about doing stretches and exercises together to start the day on large jobsites with other trades watching. But he noted now it has turned into one of the company’s most important team building tools.

Great stuff!

ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program is helping more than 50 companies, and thousands of construction professionals, better understand mental health. The program is free for ICBA members — see


ICBA NEWS: ICBA Wellness & Chris Gardner Finalists for Prestigious US Ragan Awards

Forget the Oscars — this is the *REAL* Award SZN.

Today, we learned that ICBA Wellness and ICBA President Chris Gardner are finalists for two prestigious Ragan Awards:

  • ICBA Wellness is a finalist for Outstanding Wellness Program (Small Organization, less than 100 employees).
  • Chris Gardner is a finalist for Wellness Executive of the Year.

As Ragan puts it, The finalists on this list represent the most effective corporate wellbeing programs worldwide. These organizations and people prioritize their employees’ mental, physical, social and professional well-being.”

Ragan is an influential American communications and HR firm. “Ragan Communications has been delivering trusted news, training and intelligence for more than 50 years to internal and external communicators, HR professionals and business executives via its conferences, webinars, training, awards, subscriptions and membership divisions.”

We’ll find out if we won on March 23. That’s right about the time we’ll also learn if we won a BC Business Magazine Business of Good Award for ICBA Wellness.

Over the past four years, ICBA has won 12 prestigious, US-based Reed Awards for our advocacy on behalf of open shop construction — including North American Trade Association of the Year in both 2019 and 2021 — the only two-time winner of that award.

Fingers crossed for these Wellness Awards, everyone!

TRAINING THURSDAY: Innovation in Roadway Design, Construction and Maintenance

Kerry and Jordan talk about the latest instalment of the Pavement Series.

ICBA CEO Breakfast Tickets (March 23) and ICBA Gala Tickets (April 26):

Innovation in Roadway Design, Construction and Maintenance (Webinar)
Thursday, March 24 – 1 to 2:30PM
Missed this one? Check out

This webinar will explore highlights of innovation in roadway infrastructure design, delivery and construction techniques. Participants will be introduced to innovations in road construction from around the world including:

  • Warm mix asphalt
  • Pre-cast concrete slabs
  • Accelerated bridge construction
  • High friction surfaces
  • Quality assurance techniques such as ground penetrating radar and infrared imaging
  • Thin surface restoration techniques
  • In-place recycling techniques for pavement renewal
  • Geosynthetic pavement reinforcement
  • Quiet pavement surfaces and treatments
  • In-place recycling
  • Intelligent compaction
  • Dynamic road paint and warning systems
  • Solar energy roads
  • Self healing asphalt and concrete materials

Understand the benefits of implementing innovative roadway design, construction and maintenance techniques; be able to describe key factors to ensure the successful adoption of new processes and procedures, and identify potential sources for detailed information on innovation deployment.

Instructor: David K. Hein, P.Eng. David Hein is a consulting Civil Engineer with over 35 years of experience in the design, evaluation and management of pavement infrastructure.

Innovation in Roadway Design, Construction and Maintenance (Webinar)
Thursday, March 24 – 1 to 2:30PM
Missed this one? Check out

ICBA NEWS: Pushing the BC Government for More Transparency

ICBA’s VP-Communications Jordan Bateman spoke to British Columbia’s Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in Vancouver on Friday, March 4, making the case for government to re-orient how it views information: not as something that belongs to them, but as something that belongs to the public. Here is a transcript of that presentation.

J. Bateman: Thank you for the opportunity to address these important issues, although I must confess on behalf of ICBA we find it disappointing that government convened this committee after passing what we consider to be a very regressive bill 22. We would have much preferred that bill had been held back until this process could have unfolded.

Nonetheless, it’s important to put on the record our concerns about B.C.’s freedom of information laws. I’m going to concentrate more on the FOI request side, because that’s a lot of what we do.

I have a unique view of these rules. I was trained and I worked as a newspaper reporter. Then, I was elected to two terms as a Langley township councillor, and then finally I’ve been working as an advocate for the past decade for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and now the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association.

So, while I represent ICBA today as vice-president and communications of an organization with more than 3,500 construction businesses as members employing 125,000 British Columbia workers, I assure you I would have made the same presentation today no matter where I was employed. FOI is important to me.

My first FOI request came in 1995 as a young, bright-eyed journalism student at Langara College. It was part of our course curriculum, learning how to file FOI requests federally. I must confess, 25 years later I cannot remember, I try to wrack my brain, what was that FOI for? I thought that would be a funny story. I can’t recall it, but filing such requests would become an important tool in my toolbox of holding governments accountable.

A decade after that, I was elected to township council in Langley, and the subject of a few FOI requests. The irony was never lost on me. In my advocacy career, I filed hundreds of requests, many of which have uncovered important government waste stories. For example, TransLink spending $40,000 a pop on TV screens at SkyTrain stations, and only seven of the 16 of them being functional a year later.

There was my all-time favorite FOI find, which was a training exercise by the transit police aboard an Air Canada passenger liner. They were training their explosive sniffing dogs. Except that they got home, the officer and the dog, and opened up and counted and suddenly realized they had left a piece of C4 on that plane. They guarded dumpsters. They searched the plane seven times.

By the way, by that time, the plane was en route with passengers back to Toronto. The transit police hid the whole thing. They had press releases ready to go. They had information ready to go. They never released it. We were told by a whistleblower and we released that information and it changed the way that the transit police train their animals. It also changed what Air Canada do to cooperate with police, as far as training exercises. They didn’t make that mistake again.

So those are ready to go. They had information ready to go. They never released it. We were told by a whistleblower, and we released that information and it changed the way that the transit police train their animals. Also changed what Air Canada will do to cooperate with police as far as training exercises. They didn’t make that mistake again.

So those are splashy stories of waste, but information uncovered through FOIs I filed have created lasting public policy change. Leading into the 2017 provincial election, all three major political parties in B.C. agreed that they would scrap the hated medical services premium tax. What led to this stunning agreement among usually disagreeable political adversaries? Public pressure amplified by a campaign by the Taxpayers Federation, which was anchored by my FOI research work.

It was through FOI that I uncovered that more than 850,000 MSP accounts, every one of them belonging to a B.C. resident, were overdue, amounting to half a billion dollars in uncollected premiums. Some 300,000 of those payments were 90 days or more past due. It was through FOI that I uncovered that more than $340 million in bad MSP debt had been written off by the B.C. government in the previous few years. It was through FOI that I uncovered the cost of collecting the tax was skyrocketing from $53 million in 2013 to $77 million two years later.

For years, I used FOI and other means to push back on that issue, to educate politicians and to get the media to write stories to bring some heat to the topic, until finally, MSP was scrapped. Another public policy thing — I’ve seen instances of the current government attacking the so-called scourge of repeated requests. People like Bob Mackin. He gets spoken of in hated tones because he does repeated requests. But repeated requests through FOI is precisely why we have proactive MLA expense reports posted today, for example.

Mackin, myself, others made a practice to FOI expenses in the mid-2010s until finally, politicians got the message and started posting them proactively. If government’s upset about repeat requests for calendars or spending reports or other monthly recurring reports, you could save more time and more money by proactively disclosing that information. Today, my FOI requests are a lot less exciting than building cases against politicians, bureaucrats or public bodies wasting taxpayer money.

Our most regular request at ICBA now is to the Industry Training Authority, soon to be SkilledTradesBC, for apprenticeship numbers. Until last year, ITA published quarterly reports detailing how many trades apprentices were being sponsored by associations, unions and companies, often breaking it down — well, always breaking it down — by gender, by Indigenous background as well as overall title, overall numbers.

While they wouldn’t give industry-wide totals, they would list the top sponsors. ICBA. We knew this, because we were the number one sponsor — still are — of trades apprentices in B.C. Through FOI, we built on that knowledge. We learned that ICBA and our open shot members sponsor 82 percent of trade apprentices in B.C., a statistic that no one wanted to release from the ITA.

We don’t get those reports any more. ITA quit putting them out last year, and you could read political reasons into that. But now, we have to FOI them. Every quarter, we have to send an FOI request for apprenticeship numbers that were released up to a year ago. It doesn’t make any sense. If the Premier and the minister and MLAs…. If you’re truly concerned about FOI officers’ time, that’s where the waste is. Forcing these people to go and request these numbers that we know exist within the government database system, because they were being produced in a report one year ago.

I know that Chris Atchison from the B.C. Construction Association presented earlier. I know he spoke a lot about procurement, so I won’t touch too much on that, but vital to the construction industry is knowing that contracts are being properly handled. Being able to know that there is light in that process. Not just for the protection of the taxpayer — making sure they get the best value for money — but also for the companies to learn, “Hey, oh this is why I didn’t get that contract,” and to improve their bids going forward. Better bids just mean better value for government money.

Our message to this committee is clear. B.C. freedom-of-information laws need to be reoriented around one principle: that this information belongs to taxpayers, not to the government. This should be the lens through which FOI is viewed. That government should be forced to justify why something is not being made public, not the public forced to justify why we should have access to it. There should be stiff penalties for any official who delays FOI releases.

When I was with the CTF, an FOI request with TransLink, asking for employee severance package information, TransLink ignored our legal right to that information and held it for seven months, admitting later to the Information Commissioner that the completed report sat on the CEO’s desk for almost that entire time.

The B.C. Information Commissioner found that TransLink broke the law, however, no legal repercussions, of course, for the TransLink officials for this blatant disregard of our rights. They simply carried on. Business as usual. No fine. No sanction. No discipline.

If information is the currency of democracy, as Thomas Jefferson is believed to have said, British Columbia is going broke. Taxpayers deserve far better when it comes to open, accountable government.

I realize most citizens will go their entire lives without filing a freedom-of-information request or even thinking about a freedom-of-information request. But every single one of them benefits from the information dug out of government through FOI requests by journalists, researchers, advocacy groups and others. Slapping a fee on these requests is unfair and, I believe, morally wrong. This committee should recommend that this fee be scrapped immediately.

It’s not just the information itself that is valuable. Taxpayers benefit from the accountability that comes with politicians and bureaucrats knowing that their work, reports and communications could end up in the public record. We’ve all been — I’m a retired elected official, happily — elected officials. We’ve all had that thought or had someone say to us: “Think about everything you do as if it could land on the front page of the Vancouver Sun.” That is an important piece of accountability that needs to continue within the public service.

As those of us who work in advocacy know, vigilance is paramount when dealing with government. No victory nor any defeat is ever final when it comes to democracy. A strong, effective Freedom of Information Act, where citizens have a legal mechanism to obtain information from their government, is a key part of maintaining that vigilance. It’s worth reminding ourselves that. Wherever we sit in the House, on whichever side, we have seen, over the past 100 and something years of B.C. history, that the sides switch every time and that what you put in place to prevent the opposition from doing one day may come back to bite you when you yourselves are in opposition down the road.

Again, it’s about looking at this through the proper lens. Bob Mackin isn’t wasting taxpayer money by filing FOI requests. The government is wasting taxpayer money by not proactively releasing important, fundamental information by taking up the Information and Privacy Office’s time with ludicrous, heavy-handed attempts to shut people down.

Bill 22 was deeply disappointing to many of us. Listen, I worked alongside with the Taxpayers Federation, and NDP MLAs were some of the most vocal critics of FOI legislation, the way things were being handled then. I thought you were allies in the fight for more information to be released and for FOI to work better. That bill was a dark step backwards, a long step backwards, and it’s frustrating.

There’s a cost to operating a free society where taxpayers can access information supposedly held in trust by government on their behalf. Democracy isn’t cheap. But the government’s efforts in shoving Bill 22 and an FOI fee through before this committee could sit — that was cheap.

ICBA is a proud member of the B.C. Freedom of Information Privacy Association. We’re a sponsor of their social media campaign. We were one of the first groups to join their coalition against Bill 22, and we stood shoulder to shoulder with dozens of groups — many of whom do not agree with us on anything else, any other public policy facing British Columbia, don’t share our ideology, don’t share our history — but we all stood in lockstep agreeing that the government’s actions on FOI with Bill 22 were repugnant.

So I encourage this committee to consider the Freedom of Information and Privacy Association’s recommendations — I believe they’re coming next Friday — very closely, to ban fees on FOI requests and to reorient how we all look at this information, properly identifying it as belonging to the public and being a trust that politicians and public servants hold on behalf of the public.

We’ve been a part of the process — although actually I’m not sure if I’m supposed to show that it exists already — that B.C. FIPPA has put together for their recommendations. We were part of the process before they came up with the recommendations, before they actually asked us what our thoughts were. They wanted to hear from us about what construction and taxpayers and others were feeling. Very pleased with the document that they’ve put together. These are well-reasoned, smart recommendations. I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing this committee endorse in full.

That’s it. Thank you for your time. I know that this committee was formed after Bill 22 was brought in. I know that’s not necessarily your faults. But I do appreciate the opportunity to talk and get this off my chest. FOI is…. Like I said, it’s been an important thing to me and my career for the past 25 years. It’s something I believe very passionately about. So thank you.

H. Yao: Thank you so much, Jordan, for your presentation. We really appreciate your time here. I do have a…. Obviously, basically, you recall there are two layers to it. One is talking about removal of a fee. The second one is a proactive information release. I want to dig a bit more around proactive information release with you, if you don’t mind. Bear with me for my lack of knowledge. I’m a new MLA. I’m still learning as I go.

J. Bateman: Sure.

H. Yao: Is there actually some kind of means or protocol mechanism to allow community groups such as yourself to say: “Let’s collectively figure out which information needs to be proactively released?” And the government has a proper channel to allow that information to be passed on to the appropriate ministries? Or is that just some kind of another — I hate to use the term — fighting in muddy water? You just have to figure out which ministry…. It’s a loose end that’s no real centralized or streamlined method.

J. Bateman: From the view outside of government, I would say there doesn’t seem to be any streamlined method. Certainly, we’ve never been asked what information we want to have proactively disclosed. The easiest way to do it would probably be to review the categories of freedom-of-information requests over the past several years.

You know, if suddenly we were put in charge of the Institute Training Authority, we’d look at it and say, “Well, gosh. We get asked this every quarter. What’s the problem? We’re going to release it. Under the law, we will release it eventually, so why don’t we just do it proactively?” It would be an interesting reallocation of some FOI officer’s time to actually review that and find those different opportunities to release information.

With MLA expenses, I believe it was LAMC, Legislative Management Committee, that finally pulled the trigger on that. I used to rag on poor Mike de Jong over and over again about what was taking so long. I knew he believed in it, and I knew he was trying to push it, but it just took a long time to get that mechanism going. That was the last time I can recall being asked about information that should be proactively released.

H. Yao: If you don’t mind, I have a follow-up question for that too. You mentioned quite a few examples of information that used to be released and they can retract it. Is there any kind of mechanism that — and again, bear with me on this one — government has to demonstrate before they can retract any previously proactively released information?

J. Bateman: No. Not that I’m aware of, at least.

J. Rustad (Deputy Chair): A funny little story about being called something different. As a minister, I was on a panel with a mining conference, and I was introduced as John Horgan.


Yeah, the mining industry has never lived that one down yet.

One thing that really stuck out here to me is that information should belong to the taxpayer and not government. I think that’s a very important principle. The whole purpose behind freedom of information, when it first came about 25 years or more ago in British Columbia, was as a tool for people to be able to get access to information, because there wasn’t an easy way to be able to provide that information back then. The world has changed dramatically, obviously, since then.

I’ve been asking the same question to other people that present to us, which is: should we be doing a complete rethink of freedom of information? Technology has changed to the point where everything and anything essentially is digital already. It would be simple to have it released, with the exception of rules and regulations that we could be put in place as to what can’t be released so that we can actually eliminate this treadmill of requests for freedom of information. I often think now that the act is more restrictions of information as opposed to freedom of information.

In your experience going through in the past, how do you think something like that could work, just in terms of government transparency?

J. Bateman: I think you sever out the personal information that government holds on behalf of individuals — the students that we heard Teri Mooring just speak about. So you sever that out, but on the art of policy crafting, the statistics that are being measured, you’re right. It should be considered a sacred trust.

One thing I love about new MLAs is how they walk into the Legislature the first time, and they’re kind of in awe of it, right? And I think it lasts…. For those of you who have been elected a long time, you can correct me if I’m wrong. But my sense is that it lasts. Like, there’s this sense of: “This is a sacred trust, this building. I’m here. I’m sitting in the chamber. This is where Davey Barrett sat and W.A.C. Bennett sat.” There’s this kind of sense that you’re a steward, for a time, of this place.

That is really the same kind of mindset you need to take to the information. The information that the public trusts to the government and to the myriad of public agencies is a trust held on behalf of the public. If we treated it the same way — “We’re stewards of this for a time, but it’s the people’s House, and it’s the people’s information” — how do we actually get that out to folks?

There are ways now to publish…. Publishing content online is cheap. This is not an expensive function. Even if it was, it doesn’t have to be a light switch overnight. It can be progress you make over three, four years, constantly adding more things into public disclosure.

Ten years ago they tried to do that with open data, especially around mapping. There was a lot of that. Those get used constantly. Open data portals are not used by a huge number of people. But the people who use them…. It’s important in crafting other things, going forward.

So it’s about just changing the mindset to: “We’re stewards of this information. We want to protect the personal stuff, but we want people to know how we get to certain decisions. We want people to be able to measure how those decisions have affected their everyday lives.”

That’s a longer conversation. It would mean a lot more work for a committee like this to kind of come to that mindset. But rather than constantly trying to tweak and re-tweak older legislation, it’s probably time to do that.

J. Rustad (Deputy Chair): If I could, just in terms of a follow-up. We live in a real-time world, where everything is instantaneous nowadays. If something happens, then you know about it within minutes, if not sooner.

What would a realistic expectation be for the release of information if you were to be going through this process? I’ll raise things like…. For example, MLAs are travelling. They’re staying in a hotel. They might be concerned about their own safety or what other people could use that information for. So you wouldn’t necessarily want things like that released in real time. But is a month, two months down the road…? What would be a reasonable period of time to be thinking about making sure that information could be made available?

J. Bateman: You have to wait for things like expenses. You have to wait till the bills come in, right? Then they have to be paid and processed, so there are all those different things. So it would just depend on the information.

I mean, you talked about the real-time aspect of it. While we were…. I swear I was paying attention to the previous speaker, but I was also checking Facebook and Twitter. Today Russia turned off Facebook in their country, because they didn’t like what was bleeding across the board. It just happened within the past hour. Just like that, they turned off Facebook.

So let’s not go…. We’ve got to be careful a little bit here as to how far we go. But there is that…. It should be timely, the information release, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be immediate — you know, you charge something on your credit card, or the CEO of B.C. Housing charges something on his credit card, and it suddenly appears immediately on a portal somewhere. If it takes 30, 60, 90 days, depending on what it is, that’s fine.

And it will depend…. For information for researchers, academic researchers, rather than advocates…. Advocates will want it immediately. That’s just the nature of advocacy. They’ll want it as quickly as practically possible. Researchers probably would prefer a little bit of a trend line, so they’re a little bit more patient as far as that information comes.

Again, that’s the problem, right? You’re talking about a proactive disclosure. I think it’s proactive disclosure as a principle and then trying to find the right measure for individual pieces of information.

A. Olsen: I was just going to say that I think I completely agree. The information is the public’s. I would expand it to more than the taxpayer. I recognize that the language that you’ve used for many numbers of years, Jordan, has been around the taxpayer. I think, if you were to join that up with the fees aspect of it, not all British Columbians are taxpayers. They live here, and they might not pay directly to taxes. So just making sure that the public information remains in the public, I would say, is probably the only quibble I have with the comments that you made.

J. Bateman: Absolutely, sure. Old habits, Adam. Old habits die hard for me.

A. Olsen: Thank you for your presentation today.

J. Bateman: Can I make one note, as well? Just something from the previous speaker that I want to note. There was a lot of conversation during Bill 22 about how silly requests were to, you know, look at apps that the Premier had downloaded. I would point out that you just spent a long time discussing the privacy policies around apps. Perhaps it is a perfectly legitimate request to ask what apps are on the Premier’s phone, since there are privacy policies that he clicked for every single one of them. And if he’s anything like Adam and me, he’s never read a word of those privacy policies. He’s a busy guy, so I don’t blame him.

I just wanted to throw that out there before. I had written a note when Teri spoke.

Sorry to use your question like that, Adam, for a completely irrelevant piece of….

A. Olsen: No, because it absolutely builds on something, because if you take a look at TikTok, for example, there are articles that were just released recently with respect to the back door that basically TikTok…. And they’re not quite clear exactly what it is, but the ability to surveil a phone with TikTok on it is remarkable, and the ability to have that surveillance continue long after the fact that you think it might be gone is even more remarkable. So you raise an important point.

J. Bateman: I live with a wannabe 15-year-old TikToker, so we’ve had this conversation many times in our house. It’s a hard one.

R. Glumac (Chair): I don’t see any further questions. Thank you very much, Jordan, for your presentation.

J. Bateman: Thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION WEEK: ICBA Board Chair Laura Stanton of AWG Northern Industries

To kick off both Season 2 of Merit Canada’s Constructive Conversations AND Women in Construction Week, host George Affleck chats with AWG Northern Industries president Laura Stanton. Laura is the third woman to chair the board of directors of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association.

Laura Stanton knows glass. Laura is the President of AWG Northern Industries, a second-generation family-owned glass supplier, retailer, and manufacturer. While Laura has always worked on the periphery of the business, she came back to it in 1996 after her mother retired to run the financial side of the business and then officially took over in 2015 when her father retired. Today she is solely in charge of running a glass business that has almost evolved to be self-sustaining. Once a company that installed glass, today, the company manufactures and supplies its own glass, allowing it to stand independently.

While that should bode well for AWG, sourcing glass is no longer the most significant challenge. Laura explained that the company looked into becoming a glass supplier because it was simply too hard to get glass on-demand, so they created the only supply solution that couldn’t fail. However, while they now have excellent access to glass, and they supply to other companies, contractors, and small retail shops around the Smithers and Prince George region, their biggest problem is finding skilled labour.

AWG has the same challenges as the rest of the world with a global labour shortage, but now a shortage of skilled workers is proving even more difficult. Students are not entering the trades the way they used to, and the result is that almost all construction companies are competing against each other for a minimal pool of qualified candidates. Laura explained that finding potential talent is an uphill battle. If you find a worker with skill and the proper disposition, it takes almost two more years to train them, so it is very time-consuming to replace the older group of skilled workers that are slowly ageing out of the business and retiring.

Laura also remarked that at the end of the day, installing glass is an in-person physical job that cannot be automated. Unlike other tasks, glass needs to be delivered in one sheet and then physically moved and installed. This simple fact makes it hard to cut corners or find alternative solutions, but the company is working hard to evolve with the times and look at where growth is most attainable.

In her time as president, Laura credits herself for creating the company’s supply arm and spurring their retail growth. Today the company owns 19 retail locations across the Greater Prince George area, operates a sealed unit manufacturing facility, and has its own distribution network so they can act as its own retail supplier.

She credits her parents and former partner Doug Peers as her greatest mentors who taught her everything she knows about glass. One thing that keeps her inspired to keep fighting is her favourite project, which happens to be her old elementary school in Smithers. The school was remodelled and ended up being completely encased in glass provided by AWG. Driving past the school is always a treat for Laura, who still lives in Smithers and works hard to stay true to her roots.

WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION WEEK: Thank You, Christina Koechl

We’re celebrating #WomenInConstructionWeek by honouring some of the women who have made our industry (and ICBA) the success it is today.

If not for Christina Koechl of Martina Enterprises, there may not be an ICBA today. The organization was struggling in the mid 1980s, until Christina took the chair of the ICBA Board of Directors from 1985-1988. Under her leadership, ICBA hired Phil Hochstein, won a major political battle in getting the open shop into EXPO 86 projects, signed up new members, and found financial stability. She was also the driving force in pushing ICBA to create a professional development program and directly train workers.

From a history of ICBA:

Two incidents helped shape Christina and Hermann Koechl’s resolve to operate non-union when they launched Martina Enterprises in 1972. The first was the relatively minor affront of being laughed at by a unionized contractor and told “you’ll never do more than a duplex, the unions will make sure of that.” The second was the much more chilling observation and advice of a union agent, passed along via Christina’s brother-in-law, that he “knew we had young kids and we should watch out for their safety.” The threat, she says, made her blood boil. And it drove her decision to become “part of a change, part of a movement,” and to take on a leadership role in the early ICBA.

The threat against her family was never acted on. But like those of other ICBA founders, Christina Koechl’s business faced huge hurdles. Suppliers refused to bid to it, its apprentices were denied study materials, and guard dogs and other extraordinary measures had to be taken to prevent vandalism at its work sites. In the end though, unions made sure of very little other than that Koechl’s resolve remained steely. “Give me a good fight any day,” she says. She and Hermann handled diverse and large mechanical contracting projects across North America – everything from multi-unit residential complexes, to a corporate head office, and an observatory in Hawaii. She also played an instrumental role in ICBA’s development, chairing its board and becoming a Life Member. But they faced some tough realities when starting out as an open shop contractor.

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY #39: Catching Some Zzzzz’s

Each week, ICBA’s Jordan Bateman reflects on what we’ve learned as we participate in ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program. This program is free for all ICBA members – check out for details.

This month, ICBA Wellness looks at the link between mind and body, and how our physical health can impact our mental health.

Sleep is underrated when it comes to living in a healthy way, but it’s a vital building block for our physical and mental health.

As the construction industry often comes with early hours, long commutes and nightshift work, sleep can be tough for a lot of our ICBA workers. This messes up the Circadian Rhythm – the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle – and can have major consequences on physical and mental health. For some, it can lead to substance dependency and depression.

Sleep can be elusive, as our minds race or our bodies cope with stress. But there are things we can do to help calm ourselves and rest better.

Our wellness experts suggest a few different options for those struggling to sleep:

  • Avoid heavy meals before bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol before bed
  • No caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime (this is one that always wreaks havoc with my sleep… that’s why I won’t have coffee after noon. Yes, yes, I’m a lightweight.)
  • Keep bedtime and wakeup time consistent
  • Make your bedroom dark and quiet
  • Avoid screen time for at least 30 minutes before bedtime

ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program is helping more than 50 companies, and thousands of construction professionals, better understand mental health. The program is free for ICBA members — see

Women In Construction Week: Honouring ICBA’s Life Members

This #WomeninConstructionWeek, ICBA recognizes both our history and our future. We’re proud to have four amazing women as life members (ICBA’s highest honour) in our organization:

  • Christina Koechl, the first woman to chair our board, and founder of Martina Enterprises
  • Myrtle-Anne Rempel, one of the founders of ICBA, a huge part of building Rempel Bros Concrete, and an accomplished artist
  • Ethel Rempel, the administrative and organizational force behind Rempel Bros Concrete
  • Ruth Purdy, who stitched together the people of ICBA’s early days—helping open shop contractors become allies, then colleagues, then friends, and then family