BC Transit, Shipbuilding, Forestry

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Transit announcements BC

First of committed infrastructure money from the feds: Yeah!  Money for transit in BC.  All three levels on Government have come together.

Well, at least for the design and planning for the Millennium Line (Broadway) extension and Rapid Transit (Light Rail?) in Surrey.  A new Sea Bus, Sky Train Cars, a Locomotive, Sky Train Station Upgrades, new buses. A whopping $900,000,000 committed.

Here is the BC Government Press Release:  https://news.gov.bc.ca/stories/prime-minister-announces-new-infrastructure-with-british-columbia

More tax, user fees (tolls).  Are they the correct answer?  Should there be an annual fee, perhaps tied to vehicle licensing/insurance, based on mileage, maybe offer monthly or yearly discounted passes? Toll all bridges and reduce the trip fee amount? Surely not another fuel tax. What would you suggest?  What’s fair, what’s not?

And 41 of the buses will be made in China. Lots of carping about that.

Made in China, but for a Canadian Company, to their specs.  Is this any different than all the other goods that are manufactured and imported from around the world? The criticism is that we have two other Canadian Companies who manufacture in Canada that bid on the project as well.  They bid, they lost.

Option for up to 112 mid-sized Vicinity buses. Was it all price driven?  Grande West Transportation Group Inc. www.grandewest.com developed a niche market for their products, with a good track record of delivering quality products and I guess at reasonable cost.  They sell their buses across Canada.  Should a Canadian Company get the job even if they are not competitive?

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Sea Bus/Ship Building

And there is to be a new Sea Bus to North Vancouver.  Where is that going to be built? Is this the same $25M one that was announced in 2015 to be built by Netherlands-based Damen Shipyard Group.

There has been a hue and cry from the Unions about that one, but it seems these issues surface briefly in the news, there is some protest, then the whole thing calms down, disappears.  Similar to the buses, not Made in Canada. The BC Government purportedly is saving over $2M versus the Canadian bids.  There have been some costs put together comparing the benefits of manufacturing here at home – wages, material, benefits and taxes. Is it incumbent for the Government to select the lowest bid, saving taxpayers money?

We constantly hear lots about LNG, Pipelines and the Site C Dam construction, but not much anymore about the National Shipbuilding program instituted by the Harper Conservative Government. This was the panacea to re-build the Canadian Shipbuilding industry in Canada.

When I heard that SeaSpan’s http://www.seaspan.com was laying off around 350 employees for a retro-fit of the dry dock I thought I would look into it.  SeaSpan expects to re-hire the majority of the employees back in the fall.  This is a busy shipyard, doing work for the DND, BC Ferries and even a forthcoming contract for some New Zealand Ferry vessels.

In addition to that, at Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards, they have been busy constructing some of the up to 17 vessels, worth an estimated $8 billion to be built in their Vancouver Shipyards over the next 10—15 years. Take a look at their trades training and apprenticeship program – what a great opportunity for young people to obtain a life long trade.

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Softwood Lumber Trade Deal with the USA: Negotiating Deadline – Oct 15th

The past has been litigious to the extreme from the USA side/Associations.  Many disputes were going to the WTO and Canada usually was victorious but at what cost given the time frames it took to the USA Associations to file, Canada to respond and the WTO to ponder and render judgement.  Is this going to happen – again? Clinton and/or Trump will be tough negotiators.

A Globe & Mail article (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/stalling-softwood-lumber-deal-threatens-canadian-sawmill-jobs-analyst/article30515464/) describes how the EASTERN Canadian Mills will suffer because they rely primarily on the USA market and that adding tariffs onto todays process would not be sustainable for them.  Conversely, the article points put that most of the Western Canadian Mills will do OK because one company has expanded with sawmills in the USA and that many of the other Western Canadian Lumber Companies have diversified their customer base especially to Asia.

This begs the question, “Why haven’t all of the lumber companies sought other markets for their products so they are not so reliant on the US?”

As long as they all just focus on one market, these problems will always be there.  If you rely on just one market you give the USA, the upper hand in negotiating.  Didn’t anyone learn from the past.  Remember all those tariffs imposed that had to go the WTO.  And yes, I believe the US had to refund the duties they then negotiated how much of those duties had to be repaid but not the full amount.

1 Comment

  1. It seems all of the articles, conversations etc are between a very small set of people many of whom are either totally supported by Government monies or are living off their inherited assets.

    How would we open this discussion to ordinary caring people and not just let in those with access and an agenda ? Have the regulators or the politicians ever gone to hear what the quiet residents who are proud of this First Native heritage have to say; or the workers who just want to support their families in a reasonable fashion.

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