Construction work is well underway on a number of projects that are part of an ambitious $9.1-billion multi-year expansion and renovation venture at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in Richmond, B.C.
Thirteen of 75 major capital construction projects scheduled to be completed over the next 20 years at the airport have already been started.
Recently, contractors broke ground on a new $550-million central utilities building as well as a modern six-storey parkade and ground transportation facility.
Work has also begun on an extension to safety areas of runways and an expansion of Pier D at the airport where gates are being built that will add capacity for an additional eight wide-body aircraft.
Another $1.7 billion in capital projects is slated to take place over the next three years at various areas of the airport.
Each project has a different team of contractors.
The projects are expected to create as many as 2,500 fulltime construction jobs at the airport by the end of 2018, as well as hundreds more off-site.
“YVR is experiencing unprecedented growth and we expect this trend to continue,” said Don Ehrenholz, vice-president of engineering at the Vancouver Airport Authority. “We are one of North America’s fastest-growing international airports, having welcomed a record 24.2 million passengers in 2017.”
With the airport forecasting 32 million passengers a year by 2022, it’s investing in various multi-year expansion projects to meet demand. Ehrenholz said the new construction projects are expected to improve the speed with which people and goods move through the airport.
He noted the terminal expansion plan is based on building in an incremental and centralized manner, which provides the opportunity for the airport to adapt its plan based on passenger growth and the economy.
The new parkade will have more than 2,000 public parking stalls and the ground transportation facility will feature a rainwater harvesting system that will provide a sustainable water source for airport operations.
Construction work on the project is expected to take three years and be completed by spring 2021. The expansion of Pier D is slated for completion by summer 2020. Utilities work is being done on the runways and work will continue until 2021.
The central utilities building is scheduled to be operational in 2022. It will feature a GeoExchange system, one of the largest in Canada, which will consolidate the airport’s heating, cooling and backup electrical system and contribute to the airport’s target of a 33-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The system is closed-loop and located under the central utilities building and parkade. Fluid is circulated through a well system deep in the ground.
No water is pumped into or out of the loop, but rather the loop acts as a heat exchanger between the ground and the heat pumps. Hundreds of wells of up to 500 feet will be sunk into the ground to take advantage of the ground’s heating and cooling properties.
Vancouver Airport Authority president and CEO Craig Richmond said in a June statement that the construction projects will further position YVR as a world-class connecting hub.
“As we build the airport of the future, our focus is to move people and goods efficiently, while continuing to delight people with a wide range of offerings, amenities and outstanding customer service.”
Vancouver Regional Construction Association president Fiona Famulak said the investment will bring significant economic and employment benefits to the construction industry and province.
“Our members have an excellent track record of delivering state-of-the-art construction projects at YVR and we look forward to working in partnership with the airport authority to help it realize its vision to be a world-class sustainable airport hub,” she said.
YVR is Canada’s second busiest airport and supports more than 100,000 jobs across B.C. Its operations contribute more than $16 billion in total economic output, $8.4 billion in GDP and $1.4 billion in government revenue across the province.
Meanwhile, Ehrenholz noted the airport authority is a financially independent organization that reinvests its profits back into the airport.
“We are building the infrastructure needed to further connect our region and we continue to add more services to destinations all over the world,” he said.