Winvan president and CEO and B.C. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association (BCRBHA) president Stan Weismiller was the keynote speaker at the British Columbia Construction Roundtable, held on Nov. 20 at the Terminal City Club in downtown Vancouver.
Weismiller began by explaining the role of the BCRBHA within the industry and emphasized the role of the organization as an advocate for building and maintaining a strong infrastructure.
"Any political party that holds that view, we'll support," Weismiller said, adding that transportation infrastructure is one of the most important factors in a prosperous economy.
The strategic goals of the association are to advocate for sustained investment in core infrastructure, improve worker safety and reduce duration of claims, support development of a skilled workforce and build co-operative relationships with industry stakeholders.
"Without efficient infrastructure, business costs increase and productivity decreases, causing industrial and commercial facilities and jobs to relocate out of province," Weismiller said.
He add that an efficient transportation network is the key foundation of a strong economy.
"Nothing moves until the roads are built," he said.
Weismiller pointed to the association's efforts at helping create Certificates of Recognition (COR) to increase safety awareness and pointed to the British Columbia Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA) as an example of positive efforts at increasing worker safety.
He added the BCRBHCA is also working with the BCCSA and WorkSafeBC to reduce the duration of claims.
Weismiller said the association works with other stakeholders including other associations such as the Canadian Construction Association and the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-B.C., but also works with BC Hydro, the Government of British Columbia's Ministry of Transportation and others.
Wiesmiller said a human resources program is being put together for the Site C program and that the BCRBHA is collaborating with BC Hydro to ensure the large number of workers needed for the project can be obtained.
The B.C. economy depends on movement not of finished goods but raw material, Wiesmiller said, and without adequate infrastructure, "we won't be efficient in getting those good outside of our jurisdiction."
"We have an advantage of a couple of days over other shipping ports, and need to take advantage of that," he said.
Asian trade is predicted to increase in the next years and decades, with B.C. commodities increasing in demand. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) in particular could have a huge impact, Weismiller said, and the tax implications of exporting those goods is huge.
Weismiller pointed to the recent agreement between the U.S. and China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a big opportunity for LNG.
"China has to replace coal-generated energy with something," he said.
Besides LNG, there is still a lot of activity in forestry and mining, Weismiller said, and Site C is a big project as well.
"We just need to have the political will to move forward on Site C," he said.
"We can create synergies so we can all reach our mutual goals."
Major challenges for these projects include skilled labour shortages, and the Road Builders are positioning their industry as the one chosen by workers, Wiesmiller said, by trying to appeal as an attractive option to youth who have not yet joined the workforce.