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July 25,2002

BC Ferries invites foreign bids
Vancouver, British Columbia, newspaper The Province reported yesyerday that B.C. Ferries has invited foreign shipyards to bid on construction and repair contracts for B.C. ferries.

Shipyards in China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Washington state and Halifax have been invited to bid on the mid-life upgrade of The Queen of Coquitlam, the first of five ferries due for mid-life upgrades over the next few years, reports the paper. It says the ferry corporation wants the Coquitlam refit completed by next April.

"That mid-life upgrade has been approved by the government to be tendered," B.C. Ferries spokesman Mark Stefanson is quoted as saying, adding, "that's what has initiated the debate around whether that work will be done in British Columbia or outside the province."

The ferry corporation estimates the cost at about C$,26 million if the work is done in B.C., but is "hoping to do much better than that by getting a competitive bid." said Stefanson. "This is all consistent with the government's own bidding process.

Tenders have already gone out" and offshore bids are being considered.

The vessels have a life of 40 to 45 years.

"Our average age of vessel is about 29 years," said Stefanson. "So we have to replace 18 over the next 15 years."

B.C. Ferries also needs a new 120-car ferry for the Bowen Island run in the next couple of years.

Critics say sending ferry repair and construction work offshore will hurt the local economy.

"A narrow cost-benefit analysis based on the cost of producing the ferry independent of the linkages and spinoff effects to the B.C. economy is not an appropriate way to assess where the vessel should be built or repaired," the paper quotes David Fairey of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives as saying.

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