WATCH: Cyclists in Victoria will have to wait a little longer for new protected bike lanes through downtown, and they have a soaring construction industry to blame. Keith Vass Reports.
The City of Victoria has extended its search for a contractor to build phase one of its “Biketoria” plan, because too many construction firms are already too busy to bid on the work.
“There were some bids coming in, but we want to make sure that we always have competitive bids to get the best value for the tax payer,” said Mayor Lisa Helps.
“In downtown alone there are 1,000 residential units under construction and two very large scale office projects [so] its very busy.”
Bidding for the $2.1-million dollar first phase that includes protected bike lanes running on Pandora from Cook through downtown to Wharf Street was to supposed to end this week, but that has been set back two weeks in the hope more, and lower, bids could come.
The Capital’s current building boom was captured in data released Monday from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, showing housing starts at their highest levels since 1990.
“The industry if firing on all cylinders, which means all sectors – residential and non-residential is extremely busy,” said Greg Baynton, CEO of the Vancouver Island Construction Association.
Baynton says the current boom is shaping up to last several years.
With more municipal infrastructure projects on the horizon, including the region’s largest ever, that could mean more other local government projects could face challenges finding workers.
Esquimalt mayor and CRD chair Barb Desjardins said when it comes to the region’s ongoing planning to build a billion dollar sewage treatment system, wherever the plants may finally go, when it comes time to go to tender, the value of the project and potential profit should help ensure construction firms line up for the work.
And while Victoria has more city projects coming in the next few years as well, including a new fire hall, Helps is optimistic workers can be recruited.
“Its good news, i mean it’s a really good challenge to have, people are investing in this city like no other time,we just need to make sure we can build the workforce to keep the building happening.”
Helps says the “Biketoria” phase one should still get underway in the fall.
With a pause over the holiday shopping season so the work doesn’t hurt downtown businesses, the lanes could be finished in early 2017.