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B.C. innovation minister open to making BIM a procurement process requirement

Richard Gilbert
B.C. innovation minister open to making BIM a procurement process requirement

The B.C. minister of technology, innovation and citizens’ services said he is open to making the adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) technologies a requirement for participation in the procurement process for major public sector construction projects.

"BIM is certainly an area where we have been in discussions at the initial stages," said Amrik Virk. "We certainly want to offer our buildings and be a reference wherever possible for trials and testing when it is feasible and in the public interest. That is something we most certainly want to take a look at."

Virk made this comment earlier this month as the keynote speaker at the CanBIM Vancouver Regional Session, after his presentation entitled: How BIM is Changing the Construction Industry.

During the question and answer session Virk was asked if he would consider making BIM technology compulsory on government construction projects. This idea is based on the public policy experience of the U.K. and Singapore.

"Ten years ago we were going to be leaders in environmental design," said Virk. "I don’t see any reason why now we won’t be leaders in terms of how we manage and design our buildings. A number of them have been meshed with BIM technology."

The U.K. government committed to making BIM mandatory on centrally procured public sector projects in May 2011 as part of a strategy to make U.K. construction more efficient, competitive and sustainable.

The initiative involved the development of websites, guides, protocols, standards, toolkits, classifications and other documents, which have made the U.K. a world leader in BIM with strong export potential.

The U.K. has one of the largest construction economies in the developed world. In 2014, the construction industry’s output was £103 billion, 6.5 per cent of the total economy.

Similar initiatives have been undertaken in smaller economies, such as Singapore, but nothing on the scale of that being attempted in the U.K.

"CanBIM is very pleased that minister Virk is setting an example to follow," said Tom Strong, CanBIM president. "We hope to work closely with the B.C. government on this initiative."

The theme of CanBIM’s regional session in Vancouver was Facilitating Change in the Construction Industry, which means the organization is open to every opportunity to collaborate with other BIM organizations, professionals and industry stakeholders, Strong added.

According to Virk, his ministry is responsible for real estate and facilities management services to other ministries and public agencies. This involves providing everything necessary to design, set up and manage a workplace.

Virk said a prime example of BIM technology meshing with the traditional industry is the construction of the Okanagan Correctional Centre. The $192-million project involved the construction of a 378-cell, high-security facility, which is the centrepiece of BC Corrections’ second phase capital expansion plan.

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