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VRCA Infrastructure Series promotes bidding opportunities for members

Peter Caulfield
VRCA Infrastructure Series promotes bidding opportunities for members

The Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) is partnering with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) to present the association’s next members-only Infrastructure Series event.

The series is designed to give local infrastructure procurers and VRCA members the chance to meet and discuss how they can work together.

The VFPA looks after the lands and waters that make up the Port of Vancouver.

VFPA director of infrastructure delivery Devan Fitch says the authority has a large program of infrastructure projects throughout the Lower Mainland with a total value of approximately $1 billion over the next five years.

The projects comprise road, rail, habitat and terminal improvements, all of various sizes.

Called the Gateway program, it is a subset of the Greater Vancouver Gateway 2030 Strategy, a portfolio of approximately 40 projects with a cumulative value of approximately $3 billion.

The strategy will guide infrastructure investment over the next 10 years, to ensure the region has enough road and rail capacity to meet the forecast increase in demand for goods moving through the Vancouver gateway to and from international markets.

Fitch says the projects led by VFPA are approximately $10 million – $150 million in value. Most of them are transportation improvement projects.

“They involve improvements to, or the construction of, a roadway overpass or underpass of an active rail line, as well as complimentary improvements, led by the relevant rail authority, to the adjacent rail infrastructure,” Fitch said.

Although all projects are unique, and a one-size-fits-all approach is not possible, VFPA typically uses a traditional tender process for its smaller-scale infrastructure projects.

For larger, more complex projects, it uses a proposal process following a pre-qualification exercise.

“In all cases, we consider the contractor’s proposed approach to safety management, environmental management, traffic management and quality management, as well as their demonstrated experience and past project performance in those areas,” said Fitch. 

On the Gateway projects, VFPA’s evaluation criteria will probably include the contractor’s experience working next to active rail corridors in soft soils with high ground water tables, and its approach to Indigenous group participation and sustainability.

Fitch says the VFPA’s infrastructure program is a great opportunity for contractors to establish or build on existing relationships with the Port Authority and partner with it on the first phase of fully-funded Gateway projects.

“The Port Authority has a track record of success in delivering similar projects throughout the region in recent years and understands the importance of collaboration and the need for project owners to proactively plan and manage projects, including giving full consideration to project constructability during project definition phases and when negotiating and entering into partner agreements necessary for final project approvals,” Fitch said.

The event will have three VFPA presenters.

In addition to Fitch, they are Willy Yung, director of engineering and maintenance, and Efrosini Drimoussis, director of Roberts Bank Terminal Two (RBT2) infrastructure procurement.

The VFPA presentation is the fourth in VRCA’s Infrastructure Series. It was preceded by presentations by Vancouver International Airport, Partnerships BC and Translink.

“The Infrastructure Series was conceived of in mid-2019,” said VRCA president Fiona Famulak. “There are many technology-based platforms that promote construction opportunities. In contrast, our series is a more direct, personal way for VRCA members to meet and connect with infrastructure procurers. It’s for members only because it is a one-of-a-kind experience that has a unique value that they won’t get anywhere else.”

For their part, the procurers have the opportunity to present their capital and maintenance plans to VRCA members and tell them what projects are in the pipeline.

“And it gives them the chance to get an idea of our members’ capabilities,” she said.

The theme of the first VRCA Infrastructure Series is transportation – air, land and sea.

The next instalment in that series will feature terminal operators, and it will probably take place in June.

“We haven’t decided yet what the theme of our next Infrastructure Series will be, but it will probably be one of health, education or municipal government,” said Famulak.

The VFPA presentation is scheduled to take place April 7, 2020.

Originally slated for the Civic Hotel in Surrey, because of the current health uncertainties the event will move to an online format and proceed as planned.

VRCA is reviewing its technology options and will distribute log-in information to everyone who registers for the event once the details are available.

For now, any VRCA member who is interested should go to the event registration page

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