On Oct. 17, members of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) will gather in the impressively constructed Vancouver Convention Centre for the association’s 25th Annual Awards of Excellence.
There will be plenty to celebrate, including the silver anniversary of the ceremony, gold winners in 12 categories and the unveiling of a new trophy for each of the winners.
“It’s a significant milestone for the VRCA,” said new president Fiona Famulak, a chartered accountant whose previous job was as CEO of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.
“At the celebration, we’ll be playing off a silver theme.”
Typically, in each of the 12 categories, there are three Silver Award winners, chosen based on their use of innovative techniques, new materials or exceptional project management.
At the Awards of Excellence, in each of the categories, a Gold Award winner will be announced.
This year, there were 42 total entrants, 38 projects were considered, with a final tally of 34 nominees in the 12 categories.
Roughly 650 people are expected to attend.
Each Gold Award winner brings home a trophy, which this year has been revamped, said Jan Robinson, who served as interim VRCA president prior to Famulak’s first day of work on Sept. 3.
The redesigned trophies are part of a rebranding effort the VRCA started earlier this year when a new logo was introduced, Famulak said.
The trophy’s new look will remain a secret until Oct. 17 but Famulak dropped a few hints.
“We want to evoke a new feel for the organization,” she said.
The “modern cityscape” has served as inspiration, she added.
While there may have been a few jokes about the sturdy nature of the previous trophy, the new prize, complete with platinum in the design, will be modern and sleek.
The thought is to create an iconic item that makes people immediately think of the VRCA, similar to how the now-trademarked Georgie Awards are associated with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of B.C., Robinson said.
Determining who earns a Gold Award of Excellence is done by the Adjudication Committee, a group of volunteers that Famulak was keen to acknowledge and thank.
“They take the time to visit projects, assess the various nominees and decide the winners,” she said.
Tony Everett, who five years ago retired as a vice-president with Steels Industrial Products, has been chairman of the selection committee for the last three years.
This year, he led a team of about 10 active judges, most of them retired from the industry and representing all facets of construction, including an engineer, building inspector and mechanical contractor.
“They like to keep their toes in the water,” he said of their willingness to devote many hours to the task.
“During July and August, we’d visit the buildings,” Everett said.
Some days, the team would view up to four projects in a day.
“It was almost like going back to work,” he said.
Nominees often prepared printed information about their projects, but Everett and his team made sure they toured the site with an eye on how the project met award criteria.
About 20 items are assessed, which touch on quality, sustainability, co-operation, uniqueness, meeting budgets and being on time, Everett explained.
Pretty well every type of construction, barring single-family detached housing, was represented, Everett said.
What has struck him over the last few years are the many new products and systems being used such as geothermal, solar panels and high-tech heat pumps.
“Products used today are much better than 10 years ago,” he said.
“And, the projects are built much quicker.”
Everett also noted the growth of public-private partnership (P3) projects, unheard of when the VRCA was formed.
While the VRCA represents union and non-union, general and trade contracting companies, manufacturers, suppliers and other professionals throughout the Lower Mainland from Hope to Whistler, some of the nominees completed projects outside the Vancouver region.
One winner this year was a P3, the Fort St. John Hospital and Residential Care Facility.
This year, the value of projects considered in the VRCA Awards of Excellences represent $1.1 billion of construction throughout B.C., Robinson said.
When the awards were launched 25 years ago, it was for a single award for one general contractor.
The first award went to Dominion Construction for a new building constructed for MacDonald Dettwiler in Richmond.
About 40 people were present when the sole prize was handed out.
On Oct. 17, another 14 non-project awards will also be handed out in categories such as Member of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Educator, Outstanding Woman in Construction and WorkSafeBC Awards.
Each of those winners get a plaque, said Robinson.