Victoria’s mayor backs temporary work camps to ease construction backlog

Victoria's mayor backs temporary work camps to ease construction backlog

Victoria’s mayor is backing an idea for construction companies to build temporary work camps in an effort to bring workers to ease the construction backlog, but the construction industry says the idea won’t work.

Victoria’s mayor says temporary work camps could be used to house workers needed for construction jobs in Victoria.

Lisa Helps told reporters Tuesday that she heard the idea from a citizen who called into a radio program.

She suggested that construction companies could be responsible for building and managing the camps.

“We have the advantage here of fine restaurants in downtown Victoria so you don’t need a cook trailer. But ATCO trailers with temporary housing on the edges of town, [that’s] something the construction industry could look into if they want housing for their workers,” Helps said.

But Rory Kulmala, CEO of the Vancouver Island Construction Association, which represents more than 400 companies on the island, says it is currently not a viable idea.

“There’s a lifestyle issue that comes with living in a camp. It’s not suitable for families,” Kulmala said. “They want to have a quality of life that a camp doesn’t really offer.”

Kulmala says his organization is open to working with the city to figure out a way to improve the situation. 

According to the association, work camps can cost millions to build, and each worker can cost a company thousands per year to house.

Helps says the construction backlog is responsible for delaying a number of projects in Victoria, including two bridges at Fisherman’s Wharf and a bus lane expansion on Douglas Street. 

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