The Vancouver Sun
While the New Democratic Party and its ferries critic lament the state of B.C.'s shipbuilding industry ('Workers in Poland, not B.C., will benefit from ferry-building deal,' July 29, 2014), our government is pleased with the progress made by this important industry in the last number of years.
The NDP would prefer we treat shipbuilding as a make-work project. But we know how that story ended. The fast ferry fiasco promised ferries for $70 million but the budget ballooned to $463 million. That disaster ended with the fast ferries sold for pennies on the dollar, barged to Abu Dhabi after having sat for years shrink-wrapped on the North Shore.
Our government believes in secure investments for tomorrow. We are committed to creating a sustainable shipbuilding industry in B.C. That's why we created a training tax credit through the BC Jobs Plan, which is supporting the creation of hundreds of jobs at shipyards in Vancouver and Victoria. This commitment has been instrumental in assisting Seaspan Vancouver Shipyards to secure its initial $8 billion federal shipbuilding contract.
The fact is Seaspan was shortlisted to bid on the recent BC Ferries project. However, the company's priority is its federal shipbuilding contract. The shipyard didn't have the capacity to also build the new intermediate class ferries and withdrew from the competition.
In addition, Seaspan was recently awarded the $15-million contract to construct the new Denman cable ferry for BC Ferries, which will create good-paying jobs for British Columbians. Each year, Seaspan and other B.C. shipyards and suppliers also receive over $100 million in vessel repair and refit work from BC Ferries, creating local jobs.
I fully support BC Ferries getting the best deal possible on these new vessels, and it's through open and competitive competition that BC Ferries can get the best price. BC Ferries has gone to the open market to get the best price on its new vessels. This will help to lessen the pressure on future fare increases. These new ships are part of a long-term strategy to achieve cost savings by standardizing vessels, which creates more interoperability between routes.
Our government supports B.C.'s shipbuilding industry and is optimistic about its future. The fact that a B.C. shipyard was short-listed for construction of the new intermediate class ferries demonstrates that B.C. is competitive on the world stage. However, when it comes to the purchase of new vessels, we know that B.C. taxpayers appreciate BC Ferries' efforts to get the best deal possible.
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure