ICBA Blog, Author at ICBA

BC Construction Monitor – Winter 2016/17

A balanced and realistic energy future

We get and use our energy in very different ways today than we did just a decade or two ago. But does that mean we’re on pace to make the changes we need to, or should we be trying instead to end fossil fuel use as completely and quickly as possible?

The federal government has clearly signaled that it foresees a long-term transition away from fossil fuels: One that will involve continued carbon-reduction, as well as new infrastructure to get responsibly produced conventional energy to world markets where the long-term demand outlook is strong.

Demand growth will be driven by an expanding global population, and a determination on the part of developing countries to improve their living standards. It’s true that renewables are poised to make up a much bigger part of the energy mix. But they’re starting from a low baseline and won’t be able to fully meet demand without more modest but still significant growth in conventional energy sources as well.

Even putting demand growth aside, a quick and complete transition to renewables is simply not viable. Their costs are coming down, and technical challenges such as the irregular availability of sources like wind are being tackled. But these remain big hurdles. Carbon-free energy sources can also have significant ecological footprints of their own. Continue reading “BC Construction Monitor – Winter 2016/17”

ICBA grows stronger with additional regional expansion

February 1, 2017 – Energy Services BC merges with ICBA. (Left: Art Jarvis, Executive Director of ESBC; Mike Davis, Regional Vice President, ICBA)
On February 1, 2017, the voice of BC’s construction sector became stronger.
We are pleased to announce that Energy Services BC merged with the ICBA.
Together, advocating for growth and investment in Northeast BC.

Natural resources play a crucial role in BC’s economy, creating jobs and investment in our province.  The construction sector alone employs more than 200,000 people and is responsible for 10 per cent of our province’s economic activity.

Over the past year, ICBA has helped bring projects to yes along with the support of more than 35,000 British Columbians. With our expansion in Prince George, BC, we were able to connect with businesses in the north and understand the challenges and opportunities ahead.

This year, we continue the regional expansion with the acquisition of Fort St. John-based Energy Services BC – the largest oil and gas industry association in BC. For northeast BC and our businesses, this merger means we will now have a much stronger voice when dealing with issues impacting the industry. Advocating for responsible resource development and attracting investment to the northeast region will create much needed jobs and create stronger communities.

Continue reading “ICBA grows stronger with additional regional expansion”

How to hold an economy hostage: The Activist Playbook

The “Activist Playbook” is a set of four tactics used by environmentalists to delay, cancel or block projects from getting shovels in the ground.

A recent investigation from the Financial Post sent reporters to communities across Canada where major projects had been stalled or cancelled by activist opposition. They uncovered 35 projects worth $129 billion dollars that were victim to activism, and of that, $40 billion were projects in BC. The “Activist Playbook” are tactics used by the anti-resource development movement to stall economic growth and drive away investment. With every project that the eco-activists block, our economy becomes vulnerable to instability in oil and gas prices, fewer investments that lead to tax revenue for important social services, as well as an increasing reliance on the US market.

Continue reading “How to hold an economy hostage: The Activist Playbook”

Now is the Time to Build

Source: BC Gov News

Today’s budget demonstrates that the Province’s commitment to balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility is paying dividends for British Columbians and for the construction industry.

“The message in this budget is clear –when governments save and spend responsibly they can cut taxes, invest in construction projects and support small businesses.” said Chris Gardner, President, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association.

“The government has rolled out an aggressive plan to build our province and to support families and small businesses.” Continue reading “Now is the Time to Build”

ICBA Technical Trades Room Unveiled at The College of New Caledonia

Naming rights for a technical trade’s classroom have been given to the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) following last year’s $25,000 donation by ICBA to the College of New Caledonia (CNC). CNC will use ICBA’s donation for technology advancements in the John A. Brink Trades and Technology Centre, including the purchase of electronics and other equipment that will enhance education and training for CNC trades students.

“This classroom will be instrumental in ensuring that our students are being educated and trained with the newest classroom technology,” says Frank Rossi, Dean of Trades and Technologies. “It will be a great instrument for CNC’s instructors to share their knowledge and skills to support student success.”

The classroom will be named the ICBA Technical Trades Room until 2021. ICBA made the donation in March, 2016 as part of a provincial education and training program ICBA launched to celebrate its 40th Anniversary.

“ICBA’s contribution will help prepare the next generation of construction industry professionals and support students as they pursue in-demand trades,” says Mike Davis, Regional Vice President of ICBA. “We are very excited to be investing in the students of northern B.C. and in the future of our province.”

ICBA opened an office in Prince George last year and represents over 2,000 members and clients in the construction sector across B.C.


ICBA supports Site C and responsible resource development

(Burnaby, April 18, 2017) Today’s message from Premier Christy Clark about the benefits the Site C Clean Energy Project will provide is important as British Columbians choose which party will lead the province for the next four years.

With our population expected to grow by another million British Columbians in the next 20 years, the demand for clean power will increase 40 per cent. The Site C Clean Energy Project will provide the power needed for 100 years and provide thousands of construction and operations jobs.

“The stakes are high in this election for construction workers and all British Columbians. Both the NDP and the Green Party have expressed hostility to these kinds of responsible resource developments and major infrastructure projects, and that creates a risk to our economy,” says Chris Gardner, President of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA).Site C, as well as the Kinder Morgan pipeline, Pacific NorthWest LNG and the George Massey Tunnel replacement will mean thousands of jobs in BC. We need leadership that will get to ‘yes’ on these kinds of developments.”
For more information and interviews, contact:
Trevor Pancoust

ICBA hires taxfighter Bateman to head communications

Jordan Bateman, Director of Marketing and Communications

The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of British Columbia (ICBA) announced today that Jordan Bateman will start May 1 as the organization’s new Director of Marketing and Communications. Bateman comes to the ICBA after six years as the B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).

“Jordan Bateman is a very strong addition to our team,” said Chris Gardner, President, ICBA. “He has a demonstrated track record of standing up for issues that are important to the ICBA – free enterprise, low taxes, less regulation, and investments in our province that will create jobs and opportunities for people working in the construction sector.”

At the CTF he raised the organization’s profile while helping shape significant public policy debates on important issues, including the Lower Mainland referendum campaign against the TransLink regional sales tax, working to eliminate Medical Services Premiums, and fighting for the dismantling of the Pacific Carbon Trust. Continue reading “ICBA hires taxfighter Bateman to head communications”

Same Old NDP: More Debt, Fewer Jobs, and Numbers that Don’t Add Up

Chris Gardner, President, ICBA

In this special issue of the BC Construction Monitor, we return to the choices before British Columbians in a provincial election now just days away. The NDP’s budget plan is dangerous and deceptive. Wildly optimistic even if its many omissions and faulty assumptions are overlooked, the platform in fact represents a multi-billion dollar setback to BC’s hard-earned status as a well-managed province that spends your hard-earned tax dollars carefully. Even the NDP acknowledges that while it “aims to balance the budget in every year as government”, it will not do so “at the expense” of its spending plans.

Clearly, they have no plan to do so at all. Instead the NDP will be responsible for soaring debt, higher taxes, a weaker construction sector, and uncertainty in the future of our province. Analyses of the most significant costing errors and accounting deficiencies in the NDP plan, highlighted in this Monitor, make that clear. As for the Green Party, the positions it’s taken would be equally damaging to our province. The Green voice for “No” to responsible resource and infrastructure projects is as resoundingly loud as that of the NDP. With the potential for a minority government, the Greens are not a harmless place to park a vote.

The party platforms reinforce the urgency of re-electing a BC Liberal government. It is the only party with a program designed to grow rather than sideline our province – an economy that is continuing to out-perform the rest of Canada. In our view, a vote for the BC Liberals is a vote for a healthy construction sector, jobs and opportunity for young people, and a stronger British Columbia.


The NDP Debt Disaster: Reckless Spending Mortgages our Future

Elimination of bridge tolls, construction of more than 100,000 new housing units and other NDP measures would result in a roughly $18 billion increase in taxpayer- supported debt over four years. And the consequence of that would be credit downgrades, higher interest costs and higher taxes.

Source: BC Liberal Party analysis, BC Budget.

NDP Bureaucracy and Barriers

Platform commitments like these are tailor-made to choke off growth and construction jobs, and will plunge BC further into red ink.

  • “Use every tool in our toolbox to stop Kinder Morgan from going ahead.”
  • “Renew” environmental assessment legislation and processes, and review natural gas fracking – likely stopping a proven technology and costing us jobs and investment in the North.
  • Put new conditions on LNG development – including an NDP-designed environmental assessment process that will scare away new investment in BC.
  • Implement a “roadmap for the future of BC energy” – a plan reminiscent of government actions in Ontario that have driven energy prices sky high for consumers and small businesses.
  • End the principle of revenue-neutrality for the carbon tax, with proceeds instead to be directed to rebate cheques and government-determined “climate change solutions”.

For the construction sector, one particularly worrying NDP commitment is to mandate ratios of apprentices to journeypersons on government-funded projects. This government intervention in project management has been done before, and creates inefficiencies and higher costs, and limits access to entry-level construction jobs for young workers. Union-only procurement is a short step away.

Source: NDP Platform.


Union-Only Construction – The Ontario Experience

Union-only tendering on major public projects would likely return to BC under an NDP government. In Ontario and other jurisdictions where this exists, privileged-access for unions to taxpayer-funded work reduces competition, drives up costs, and denies work to small construction companies.

Source: Merit Canada, Ontario MPPs, Hamilton Spectator, Cardus.

Independent Experts Weigh in on NDP Plan

Non-partisan experts agree on the dangers of the NDP budget plan, as these highlights from an independent analysis by senior economists show. Their conclusion: The NDP won’t be able to sustain its plan “without a major reduction in political promises, and additional tax revenues”.

1. Eliminate MSP fee, freeze BC Hydro rates, freeze ICBC rates; impact is of full implementation.
Sources: Fiscal Assessment of the 2017 NDP Election Platform; C. Scott Clark and Peter T. Devries; April 2017 – goo.gl/DluYKy

Green Party Platform – Construction Jobs Will Suffer

The Greens are unequivocal in saying “No” to opportunities for responsible resource development and to badly needed major infrastructure upgrades (see next page).




The Greens propose to boost spending by $3.2 billion annually on average, in what the Vancouver Sun calls “one of the most expensive platforms ever presented”. They rely on contingencies, growth and questionable assumptions to balance the budget over four years – but still plan tax increases cumulatively totaling more than $9 billion.



From a “tax system that is structured to meet spending needs”, to the appointment of various new oversight bodies such as a Fair Wages Commission, the Greens want government to be much more involved in the day-to-day lives of British Columbians.



Source: Green Party Platform

Getting to YES on the Responsible Resource Development Projects BC Needs

Responsible resource development and major infrastructure projects are vital to prosperity and to quality of life. Polls show that most British Columbians understand this and want these projects to proceed. Several especially large and important ones are either underway or on the cusp of seeing shovels in the ground. But the opposition parties are set to bring every one of them to a grinding halt.

Join ICBA’s #Get2Yes Campaign and support responsible resource development. Sign-up at http://icba.ca/growing-the-economy/
And on Tuesday, May 9, vote for responsible development. Find your polling station: elections.bc.ca/2017- general-election/

NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Lashes NDP’s Slap-Dash Site C Review

VICTORIA, B.C. – The NDP Government is putting politics ahead of sound public policy by sending the Site C dam project to the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) for a six-week review, said the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA).

“Site C has already spent more than a decade going through independent environmental and regulatory reviews, with more than 150 binding environmental conditions imposed on the project. It was signed off by both the federal and provincial governments. Its environmental study alone was 29,000 pages – a stack of paper taller than an NBA basketball hoop,” said ICBA President Chris Gardner. “Site C has also faced 14 separate court actions and was upheld in every single one of them. At ICBA, we talk a lot about the need to ‘Get to Yes.’ On Site C, the NDP government needs to now ‘Stick to Yes.’”

NDP Energy Minister Michelle Mungall made the announcement today, calling on the BCUC to undertake a review of Site C and meet with stakeholders. ICBA intends to participate in that process.

“This review is redundant and irresponsible,” said ICBA Communications Director Jordan Bateman. “The focus should be on finishing the dam, not slowing it or stopping it. With 20 per cent of the work complete, and billions spent or committed, we need to finish the job. Judging Site C on ‘current’ demand – as outlined in the NDP-Green agreement – makes no sense given that demand in B.C. is expected to grow by 40 per cent over the next 20 years.”

ICBA, voice of B.C.’s construction industry, has been fighting hard to keep Site C workers on the job. Today, more than 2,400 men and women went to work on Site C.

“Workers and families in Fort St. John and other communities across B.C. are on edge over the NDP government’s opposition to Site C,” said Gardner. “But it isn’t just the economic future of the Peace region at stake. This action sends a chilling message to businesses and investors who are learning that in B.C., environmental and government approvals are not worth the paper they are printed on. Businesses looking to expand or invest in B.C. need to know that once they have met all regulatory requirements they can move forward with certainty and not have to worry about government changing its mind and reversing course.”

In recent weeks, ICBA has fought for Site C through its pink slip campaign, its poster campaign in Fort St. John, hiring a plane to tow a pro-Site C banner over the Throne Speech in Victoria, generating nearly 2,600 emails in support of Site C through www.get2yes.icba.ca, and releasing a list of B.C. cities where Site C workers hail from.

BC Construction Monitor – Ominous Signs for Construction Jobs in BC

Ominous Signs for Construction Jobs in B.C.

Chris Gardner, President, ICBA

After an unprecedented long period of post-election uncertainty, a minority NDP government has taken power in Victoria – with the formal backing of the Green caucus. And while speculation abounds about the likely shelf life of this government, I believe current dynamics suggest it will remain in power for at least a significant proportion of the usual four-year term.

So in this Monitor, we take stock of what that may mean for B.C. – drawing from the platforms and accord of the two parties, ministerial mandate letters, and various public statements from key figures within the NDP and Green Parties.

We begin with the current outlook for several resource-development and other major projects, upon which thousands of existing and even more future jobs depend. None of these projects were treated very favourably in the NDP or Green platforms, and if anything the outlook has worsened since they formally took power. Indeed, Pacific NorthWest LNG was just cancelled – a $36 billion investment lost.

The message from Pacific NorthWest LNG’s decision is that we have to move faster to compete globally – but the new government is signalling that we will be moving more slowly, if at all, on many major projects.

We also look at some of the central players in the new government – with a particular focus on those with construction-related portfolios – and at the agendas they’ve been tasked with implementing. As with the cabinet as a whole, these people represent a narrow segment of views and backgrounds, with markedly little experience in entrepreneurship, small business or the private sector.

Finally, we look at the single most troubling of all the Labour Code reforms the NDP would like to implement – elimination of a secret ballot for union certification. Encouragingly, this one is a bridge-too-far for the Greens, and one we hope they’ll prevent the NDP from crossing.

As to the rest of the NDP’s agenda and how this all unfolds, we’ll be watching carefully and intervening forcefully if we see construction sector and major provincial interests jeopardized – as we already have in recent weeks with our campaign to support Site C. And if you haven’t already joined us in the effort, please be sure to sign up as part of our #Get2Yes Community: http://get2yes.icba.ca.


Major Projects Check In

These four energy and infrastructure projects all have their environmental approvals, and construction was either underway or on the cusp of proceeding at the time of the election.

Site C Clean Energy

A $9B investment in clean power designed to operate for 100+ years has now been sent back for yet another review. Best case? Delays that cost taxpayers. Worst case? 2,500 people currently working on the project get pink slips.



Trans Mountain Pipeline

In what experts have called a violation of the rule of law, the NDP has pledged to use “every tool available” to stop this $7B project. Recent speculation has focused on making it “prohibitive” for the project to get provincial permits.



Pacific NorthWest LNG

Global market dynamics and skepticism on the part of the new government – the threat of increased regulation and taxation – contributed to the collapse of the business case for what might have been the largest-ever private sector investment in B.C.



George Massey Tunnel

The province is leaving this $3B project up to regional mayors – most of whom oppose it, except for the mayor of Delta. If the bridge is cancelled, extending the life of the existing tunnel will come at a high cost.



Who and What: NDP Minister and Their Marching Orders

The NDP front benches are dominated by trade union organizers, environmental activists, community organizers and other special interests, with sparse representation from outside Greater Vancouver and Victoria. Government MLAs are short on experience in small business or the private sector. Further, a bleak outlook for the construction and responsible resource development sector emerges from a close look at the Green and NDP platforms, the accord between the two parties, the mandate letters issued to ministers, and other indications of next steps.



Stacking the Deck with Card Check Unionization

Joining a union is a deeply personal and very important decision – one that can impact the competitiveness and viability of a business. The BC Liberals and Greens favour the current democratic approach to determining whether a union gets certified – employees get to vote using a secret ballot. The governing NDP is determined to turn the clock back to “card check.”

The card check approach removes the secret ballot and opens the union certification process to intimidation and coercion.

Vote or Sign: Two Different Paths to a Crucial Decision