TransLink has announced a new replacement SeaBus is to be built by a company in the Netherlands, and local unions are not happy.
The transit authority had put out a request for bids to replace the MV Burrard Beaver, which is over 35 years old and no longer complies with Transport Canada's certification standards, and Dutch company Damen Shipyards Group was chosen over two others who had submitted proposals.
Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Union Local 2200 president Joe Elworthy told Business in Vancouver that the most recent SeaBus was built here in B.C. and there was no reason for the government to look outside of the country.
"It shocks us at this stage in the game why they would use public funding to go offshore and essentially farm out jobs out of Canada," said Elworthy. "It can be done just as efficiently and easily right here in British Columbia."
He also points out that CAW 2200 workers operate and maintain the vessels.
CAW president Ken Lewenza had a similar reaction.
"As a government agency, tasked with using public funds for procurement, TransLink should be mandated to purchase domestic ships built in B.C.," Lewenza said. "There is no reason that this ship could not have been built here in B.C.; allowing TransLink to make this thoughtless decision is a reflection of poor leadership from the provincial government.
"While the B.C. government is touting its BC Jobs Plan, it's also sending public funds offshore – money that could have been used to support job creation here in the province."
TransLink said Damen Shipyards was chosen through a competitive bid process and evaluated on several criteria, including:
- shipyard experience;
- cost; and
- quality of construction.