April 26, 2021

If you work in BC’s construction industry, here’s what you need to know about the travel restrictions announced last week by BC’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.

  • BC’s five Health Authorities have been combined into three. Travel into and out of the regions for non-essential reasons is prohibited by law:
  1. Vancouver Island (Vancouver Island Health)
  2. Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health)
  3. Northern/Interior (Northern Health and Interior Health, including Bella Coola Valley, the Central Coast and Hope)
    • Residents from the Hope area can travel to Chilliwack for essential goods and supplies
    • Residents from the Bella Coola Valley and Central Coast area can travel to Port Hardy for essential goods and supplies
  • Travel for construction work is allowed – essential travel includes these points relevant to the construction industry:
      • Work, both paid and unpaid
      • Commercial transportation of goods
      • Responding to a critical incident, like search and rescue operations
      • Read the full list of essential travel definitions here.
  • All restrictions are in place under the Emergency Program Act and legally enforceable.
  • All restrictions are effective immediately, through May 25, 2021.
  • Non-compliance may result in a $575 fine.
  • Police will not be engaging in random checks. Periodic road checks may be set up at key travel corridors during times associated with leisure travel to remind travelers of the order.
  • BC Ferries will deter and restrict reservations. No new sailings will be added.
  • People from outside the province who are travelling to B.C. for non-essential reasons can be subject to the same enforcement measures.

The shortage of materials and subsequent rise in costs is becoming a significant concern for our industry across Canada:

  • Bid validity period is shorted to 7 – 14 days due to supply chain problems
  • Price increases seem to be occurring across all aspects of building and infrastructure construction due to:
    • World-wide shortage of shipping containers
    • Port congestion
    • Government stimulus programs in Asia driving demand for materials in those regions, hampering export
    • Drywall market across North America is “sold out”
    • Lumber is very limited and suppliers are buying blind as to price.
    • Steel industry closed or reduced capacity at start of pandemic and is slowly increasing, but pricing has doubled per metric tonne. Prices can only be guaranteed 15 days vs usual 2-3 months. Steel mills are advising they won’t see stability until first half of 2022.

As a result, we offer this message from industry to buyers and design consultants:

  • Ensure your project budget and expectations are aligned with reality prior to tendering.
  • Do not seek a 60-90 day bid validity to approve a project.
  • Consider a material adjustment clause in your project tender to deal with price fluctuations of certain materials.
  • Plan your project with all parties in the subcontractor and supply chain as early as possible.
  • Communicate early and regularly.
  • Stay calm, we’re almost through this. Work together.

Thanks to our friends at the BC Construction Association for providing the basis for this content.