Study suggests building BC ferries in BC

MARCH 12, 2014 — Here's a study that looks to have missed the boat. Produced by a Vancouver, BC, think tank called the Columbia Institute, it claims to show significant economic benefits for building BC ferries at home.

Unfortunately, the one shipbuilder in the province capable of building the the three ferries that  are the study's immediate focus, has just withdrawn from the bidding process for the vessels.

Those ferries are BC Ferries three new intermediate ferries.

Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards of North Vancouver was the only Canadian shipbuilder of the five pre-qualified to bid for the vessels, which will be LNG fueled. However, last month it was got a $15 million contract to build a new cable ferry for BC Ferries and said "this cable ferry, other potential new construction opportunities under evaluation, and the first OFSV maximize Vancouver Shipyard’s available capacity"  and that it was withdrawing from the bidding process for the intermediate ferries." (see earlier story).

Still, BC Ferries' long term newbuild program could see as many as 26 vessels replaced over the next 15 years, with predicted expenditures of $2.5 billion or more.

"Offshoring this massive program benefits other countries while leaving British Columbia, Canada and BC Ferries customers shouldering ongoing debt and costs," says Charley Beresford, Executive Director of the Columbia Institute. "We can meet the need of BC ferries while benefiting our local economy."

Economic modeling for the study by Stokes Economic Consulting shows the advantage of building ferries in BC:

  • For every 100 jobs created in a BC shipyard or repair industry, there would be an additional 135 jobs created in the province.
  • The average increase in employment over three years would be 1,063 workers annually.
  • Building the ferries in BC would increase government tax revenues by $66 million federally and $36 million provincially.

You can download the Columbia Institute study HERE

And if you go HERE you can download the BC Auditor General's 1999 report on the Pacificats debacle that cost BC taxpayers millions when studies suggested that it would be a good idea to build catamaran fast feries in BC.