Capital Region’s mayors tout federal shipbuilding contract as major win

Contract will net long-term jobs, create lucrative economic spinoffs

Cheers were the order of the day in Victoria and Esquimalt after the federal government announced it is awarding West Coast-based Seaspan Marine Corporation an $8-billion non-combat shipbuilding contract.

 

The more lucrative $25-billion combat-vessel contract went to Halifax-based Irving Shipbuilding. Quebec-based Davie shipyard came away with nothing.

 

Seaspan, which owns Victoria and Vancouver Shipyards and the Vancouver Drydock, will build a non-combat naval fleet that includes Canadian Coast Guard ships, an icebreaker and joint-support navy ships.

 

“You always hope for the biggest but this is nothing to sneeze at,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins. “It would have been nice to get the $25 billion but $8 billion is going to provide us with some stability at the (Victoria) shipyard (as well as) jobs.” 

 

She said the lucrative contract puts Esquimalt on the map, and the township’s industry and commercial sector are open for business.

 

Seaspan has said all along that the 20- to 30-year contract work would result in new and long-term jobs, and prompt capital infrastructure investment at the shipyards. The company planned to do most of the ship construction at its Vancouver yard beginning late 2012, early 2013, while 15 to 20 per cent of the workload will fall to Victoria Shipyards. 

 

The contract “will be bringing good pay jobs to the region, jobs that go on and on,” said Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, adding it will represent a boon to Greater Victoria’s shipbuilding and marine industry, which nets more than $1 billion in economic spinoffs each year. “This is a contract that will continue giving for a long time and it’s very exciting.”

 

Wednesday’s announcement is precedent-setting. 

 

Not since the Second World War has the federal government awarded shipbuilding packages of this magnitude. Together the contracts, which make up the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, are worth $33 billion.

 

“Building ships in Canada has historically been carried out on a project-by-project basis …,” said François Guimont, deputy minister of Public Works and Government Services, who announced the news.

 

“While we felt we were more than capable of building the combat ships, we are honoured to have been chosen to provide non-combat vessels for the men and women of the Royal Canadian Navy and Coast Guard,” said Seaspan CEO Jonathan Whitworth. 

 

The work is a win for B.C. since it will inject billions of dollars into the economy and create an average of 4,000 jobs over the next eight years, according to Seaspan.

 

“It tells us that Canada works, so B.C. can get to work,” Premier Christy Clark said at a meeting of the B.C. Liberal caucus, which erupted in cheers when the announcement was made from Ottawa.

 

“Eight billion dollars spent on shipbuilding, on the suppliers, $8 billion spent throughout the economy, and not just British Columbia’s economy,” she said. “This represents a really positive sign for our budget. You won’t see it in the next six or eight months, but its impact is absolutely going to be felt.”

 

Another $2 billion in federal dollars will be up for grabs for the construction of 116 smaller federal vessels. This work will be awarded on a project-by-project basis to companies other than Seaspan and Irving. In addition, $500 million a year will be available for the repair and refit of the vessels over a 30-year period.

 

Ottawa estimates the fleet’s renewal will translate into jobs for 15,000 Canadians a year over the next 30 years.

 

The umbrella contract agreements will be assigned by end of the year, and following that individual ship construction contracts will be negotiated.

 

emccracken@vicnews.com

 

Just Posted

Howard English Hatchery volunteer Joscilyn Jupp poured one of many buckets of salmon fry into Douglas Creek on May 11, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
35,000 salmon fry released in Saanich park during closed event

Chum from Goldstream Hatchery trucked in to restore Douglas Creek salmon spawning

Reigning women’s World Champion Kaetlyn Osmond, who also took bronze at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, will debut two brand new programs for the 2021 Stars On Ice tour, in Victoria May 15. (File photo)
Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko hit the ice when Stars returns to Victoria

The star-studded lineup is makes a return after pandemic hiatus

North Saanich has received a report from the Urban Development Institute calling on the municipality to expand and densify its housing options in the face of demographic and environmental changes as the municipality continues its Official Community Plan review. (Black Press Media file photo)
North Saanich asked to create more affordable, diverse housing

Urban Development Institute says community faces demographic, environmental challenges

Ryan Cootes, Erin Bremner-Mitchell, Bill Collins and Mike Williamson of Cascadia Seaweed Corporation are here seen holding up seaweed grown in Barkley Sound in July 2020. The Sidney-based company has organized the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival running May 17 to May 23. (Cascadia Seaweed Corporation/Submitted)
Global expert touts seaweed to open inaugural Sidney festival

Vincent Doumeizel also points to barrier facing the emerging industry

Local cyclist Max McCulloch catches air off a jump in the newly redesigned Organ Donor trail at Mount Work mountain biking park. The Capital Regional District approved its regional parks mountain biking guidelines and a list of short-term actions at the CRD board’s May 12 meeting. (Black Press Media File Photo)
CRD approves mountain biking guidelines that drove spoke between advocates, environmentalists

Guidelines aim to find new biking opportunites in region, while protecting park ecology

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

The Nanaimo Timbermen and Victoria Shamrocks compete in Western Lacrosse Association action in Nanaimo during the 2019 season. (News Bulletin file photo)
WLA cancels another senior A lacrosse season due to COVID-19

Western Lacrosse Association, Major Series Lacrosse announce cancellation of Mann Cup

The top photo is of a real carbine rifle, while the bottom photo is the airsoft rifle seized from a Kelowna man on May 15. (Contributed)
RCMP issue warning: ‘Imitation firearms need to be dealt with responsibly’

A man brandishing his airsoft rifle in public had his weapon seized by Mounties on Saturday

Abbotsford Regional Hospital. (Black Press Media files)
Canada marks 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began

6 in every 10,000 Canadians died of COVID-19 since March 9, 2020

Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen, with the 100 Mile House RCMP. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)
14-year-old boy killed in serious ATV crash near 100 Mile House

Youth was travelling with a group of peers when the incident occurred last Friday

Relief is coming for B.C.’s struggling tourism sector. (NEWS file photo)
B.C. officials set to announce more support for tourism sector hit hard by pandemic

Non-essential travel is restricted between three regional zones in B.C. until at least May 24

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from “F9.” (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie is making a comeback this summer

Excitement in the industry is growing again for a return to a big-screen normal

More “strings of lights” were seen on May 15, 2021, in night sky over Vancouver Island. (File photo)
Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

Most Read