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Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years by Michael Wicks

Commercial Street, Nanaimo, B.C. circa 1950

Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Photos: Vancouver Island Conference Centre

“Our three defining values are dedication, competency, fairness. VICA helps us meet all three.” 

- Rick Gudz, Manager Site Operations - Defence Construction Canada

“VICA was the first B.C. association to implement BidCentral - a tremendous productivity improvement. It set a great example of the benefit of continually seeking productivity advances.”

- Richard Brown, Manager, Design and Construction - Vancouver Island Health Authority

“VICA is the cornerstone of the construction industry on Vancouver Island. The level of professionalism in the industry has gone up significantly as a result of VICAs leadership and education.”

- Grant McMillan, President - Council of Construction Associations

Published by: Blue Beetle Books Inc. Victoria, B.C., P: 250-704-6686 ISBN: 978-0-9733307-4-8

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Copyright Š 2012 Michael Wicks; Vancouver Island Construction Association First published in 2012- all rights reserved This book was custom published by Blue Beetle Books Ltd. for Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA), British Columbia, Canada. Blue Beetle Books Inc. and the Vancouver Island Construction Association have made every effort to ensure the information in this book is up to date and accurate, however the company, nor the author, can guarantee that all information provided to writers and editors is without error or omission. Contact the Vancouver Island Construction Association Victoria Office: 1075 Alston St Victoria, B.C. V9A 3S6 P: 250-388-6471 Contributing writers: Marilyn Harris. Editors: Marilyn Harris; Michael Wicks. Design and layout by Tom Spetter. Š All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system without the prior consent of the publisher. Reviewers may quote brief passages in conjunction with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper or broadcast. Printed and bound in Canada by Friesens.

Table of Contents A Member’s Journey to VICA CEO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Office of the Lieutenant Governor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Chapter 1 - Our Blueprint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Chapter 2 - Construction On Vancouver Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Chapter 3 - VICA Members . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Chapter 4 - Building The Construction Industry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Chapter 5 - Having Fun and Giving Back . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Chapter 6 - Looking Forward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Chapter 7 - Champions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


A Member’s Journey to VICA CEO

I was introduced to the Construction Association of Victoria when I started working for a plastering contracting firm as an estimator in 1975. My employer had been a member for a number of years and the principal saw membership in the association as vital to the firm’s transition from being largely residential based to being diversified in both the residential and non-residential sectors. The association was the portal for bidding publicly funded work at that time and my employer’s strategic leadership paid off. The company successfully diversified its portfolio of work and grew to be one of the larger plastering contracting firms in B.C. As the company grew, so did my business skills. This led to my acquisition of the business in partnership with the founder’s son and subsequently the opportunity to branch out on my own. The association played a key role in my leadership and business development. This is my story; however it is not uncommon, it’s one I have observed and heard from others. My interest in the association came naturally, as I experienced the benefits of both business and personal growth, and as my peers noticed my involvement. In addition to making new friendships, I participated in a number of committees and was nominated to the Board of Directors in 1982. In 1991, I was elected as Chairman of the Board. My firm was a member for over 30 years; it was only due to the sale of my business in 2004, that I ceased to be a member. It did not come as a surprise to those in the construction community when I was recruited for the position of Chief Executive Officer in 2006. I now have six years under my belt as CEO. As I reflect on my time with the association, I note that I have continued to learn and grow. Even today, new members tell me that they joined for the same reasons I did over 30 years ago. While the reasons for joining may be the same, the industry is not. All the more reason to be a member; participate, learn, grow, prosper and give back! Greg Baynton – CEO, VICA, 2012


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Office of the Lieutenant Governor 2012 As Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia I am pleased to offer my congratulations to the Vancouver Island Construction Association on its 100th anniversary. It was an honour to help VICA and its members kick-off the centennial celebrations here at Government House, the ceremonial home of all British Columbians! VICA offers its members a central resource for information, professional development and advocacy and plays an important role in helping maintain a high standard of excellence within the industry. I offer my thanks to VICA for providing a platform for meaningful discourse on the interests and issues affecting the construction industry on Vancouver Island today. On behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in this, her Diamond Jubilee Year, I wish the Vancouver Island Construction Association all the best in its centennial year and continued success for the future. Sincerely,

The Honourable Steven L. Point, OBC Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Royal Jubilee Hospital: New Lab Facilities, 1965. Photo: Farmer Construction

Introduction The Story of VICA and the Construction Community it Serves

There are many ways to track the passage of time and to understand the history and soul of a place, but none better than through its buildings and structures. The story of Vancouver Island is the story of the men and women who built the homes, office blocks, shopping malls, hotels, hospitals, churches, schools, bridges, roads, ferry terminals, airports, sawmills, pulp mills and even dams. Visitors gravitate not only to heritage buildings and structures, but also to those new cathedrals of glass and steel that are testimony to how far construction has come since Neolithic man formed mud into bricks with his bare hands. But, to put things into perspective, 12,000 years after our late stone age man was hand-molding bricks in Jericho, construction workers on Vancouver Island in 1912, where our story begins, were still digging holes by hand. They were also using horses and carts to transport materials (even massive steel girders) and pull down buildings, and a glass marble for checking something was level. Over the years technology has advanced a great deal, but the construction industry is still all about highly skilled people, determination, risk, entrepreneurialism, and vision. Architects and engineers often get the lion’s share of the credit when people talk about an impressive building, but without builders and their highly skilled tradespeople, those buildings would be no more than impotent blueprints. “Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years” commemorates the members of all the associations that have been part of VICAs story, and more importantly their role in building Vancouver Island. Originally established to support interaction between the contracting community and public owners, their agents, architects and engineers during the bidding process, today the association serves nearly 600 members representing thousands of people working in the industrial, commercial, institutional and multi-story construction sectors. It is the story of an association that, after recently merging with three local Vancouver Island construction associations, is stronger, more relevant, and more representative of the industry it serves than at any time in its history. From the building of the Royal Theatre in 1913, to the brand new LEED certified Atrium Building, “Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years” gives readers an opportunity to appreciate the contribution the industry has made, not only to the economy, but also to the overall quality of life on Vancouver Island.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Chapter 1 - Our Blueprint Mission The Vancouver Island Construction Association is dedicated to promoting the interests of the construction community and providing its members with invaluable services and benefits.

Vision The Vancouver Island Construction Association is a member driven not-for-profit organization whose objective is excellence and integrity guided by the principles of leadership, ethics, highest integrity standards, and rich benefits for its members.

Code of Ethics Membership in the Vancouver Island Construction Association is synonymous with conducting business on the basis of accuracy, truth, integrity and good faith. VICA recognizes the impact the construction industry has upon the comfort, well being and safety of the public at large. This recognition imposes an obligation of professional responsibility and cooperation with one another and our clients. The principles of integrity, fairness, leadership and confidentiality shall characterize all dealings, whether oral or written, between members and their clients, associates and employees. Fair and enlightened self-government requires the self discipline to maintain high standards of work and abide by self imposed restraints and principles, based upon equity and excellence.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Our History The Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) is the latest incarnation of an organization that started life as the Victoria Builders Exchange (VBE) in Bastion Square in 1912, a place where purchasers of construction services could drop off building plans and contractors could view them in preparation of submitting a bid. To put things into perspective, in 1912 Victoria High School was under construction and the steel beams used were transported to the job site using horses and carts - a time when the biggest cost to a contractor was often the feed bill for his horses. By the mid 1940s the Victoria Builders Exchange Ltd. was known as the Victoria Building Industries Exchange Ltd. In 1966 it amalgamated with Vancouver General Contractors Association, the Heavy Construction Association of B.C. and the Vancouver Construction Association to form the Wayne Farmer and Ed Phillips steady a 2x4 as former Victoria alderman Percy Frampton carefully cuts his way through, at the historic opening of the Construction Association of Victoria’s brand new office. February 22, 1972. Photo: VICA


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Amalgamated Construction Association of B.C. (ACA). At that time the key players in the Victoria Building Industries Exchange included: Don Smith, George Wheaton, George Farmer and Mike Griffin. Changes in the labour movement, and the establishment of the Construction Labour Relations Association of B.C. (CLRA) led to a push for Victoria to have its own regional association, and the Construction Association of Victoria (CAV) was launched in 1970, with Ed Phillips as president. CAVs objectives were to be credible and relevant, and have influence with all levels of government, school boards, architects, engineers, the attorney general and the Workers’ Compensation Board, and to build growth through membership. In 1972, the premises at 1075 Alston Street were built and occupied by VICA. Funding came from the issuing of debentures, which were purchased by members. This helped put the association on a firm financial footing, which it enjoys to this day. 1970 to 1980 was a transition period and a lot of work went into establishing the B.C. Construction Association - a single voice for the industry. For the first time, there was a balance of power between the construction association and the unions. The CAV represented BCCA to government and during this period the mechanic’s lien act became the builder’s lien act as a result of the association’s advocacy. Incorporated into the new act was a 15 per cent holdback for sub-trades, which was introduced to ensure substantial completion of projects. At the same time CAV represented BCCA during discussions surrounding the transition from the imperial measurement system to metric to represent the needs of the industry. A trip to the U.K. with Bill Williams, the Minister of Labour, to look at the British trades training programs, resulted in the start of the apprentice program we have today. Giving back was always part of the association’s mission. When the Health Authority approached CAV asking for help in raising funds for a burn unit at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, it was seen as a natural fit with the construction community.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


The association raised $1.5 million for the unit and the chair of the fundraising committee was made an honorary citizen by the Mayor of Victoria. In 2007, CAV changed its name to Southern Vancouver Island Construction Association (SVICA) to reflect growth in the capital region and a growing market outside the City of Victoria. The following year SVICA and North Vancouver Island Construction Association (NVICA) merged to become the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA). Four years later, in 2011, the two remaining associations on the island, VICA and the Mid Island Construction Association (MICA), merged to become a single regional association. The newly integrated VICA encourages and facilitates cross-island communication and collaboration on key member and industry issues, member services, education and networking. Today the Vancouver Island Construction Association, guided by the principles of leadership, support, and representation, has credibility and influence with all levels of government. This high profile, in addition to its strong relationships with leading construction community clients and industry associations, allows VICA to be involved and have influence at the highest level during periods when there are issues, or challenges facing its members. VICA plays a strong advocacy role through its various committees including Young Construction Leaders, General and Trade Contractor Councils, and the Standards and Practices Committee. The association and its members are community minded; they support their local community through contributions to programs such as the United Way, Woodwyn Farms, the Prostate Centre, the Garth Homer Society and many others. The association also provides long-standing support to children of inner city elementary schools on Vancouver Island. While it is impossible to mention all the people who helped make the association what it is today, some of the key players who were instrumental in leading the organization at vital times in its history include Cec Prowse, George and Bob Wheaton, Ray Farmer, Herb Playsted, Dave Weller, and of course, the association’s ten honorary members who are featured on pages 56-60. For the last 100 years the construction associations of Vancouver Island have supported their members and the construction community as they have built Vancouver Island - its houses, schools, hospitals, offices and retail developments. The new, united, VICA continues this tradition with its shared vision of one market - one association - one voice.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


• 1912 – Victoria Builders Exchange Ltd. incorporates. • 1918 – Canadian Construction Association (CCA) established. • Mid 1940s – Victoria Builders Exchange Ltd. changes name to Victoria Building Industries Exchange. • 1966 - Victoria Building Industries Exchange amalgamates with Vancouver General Contractors Association, the Heavy Construction Association of B.C. and the Vancouver Construction Association to form the Amalgamated Construction Association of B.C. (ACA). • 1969 – B.C. Construction Association (BCCA) incorporates (managed by ACAs Executive Director out of ACAs offices). • 1970 – Construction Association of Victoria (CAV) incorporates to continue the good work of the Victoria Builders Exchange. • 1972 – Construction Association of Victoria (CAV) builds and opens premises at 1075 Alston, Victoria. • 1999 – CAVs Online Plan room launches. • 2007 – CAV changes name to Southern Vancouver Island Construction Association to reflect structural changes in the market. • 2008 – Southern Vancouver Island Construction Association (SVICA) and North Vancouver Island Construction Association (NVICA) merge to become the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA). • 2009 – Online planroom branded BidCentral to market a growing suite of products and services that provide a centralized destination for the complete construction bidding process. • 2010 – Launch of Electronic Bidding System (EBS). • 2011 – VICA, Mid-Island Construction Association (MICA) and British Columbia Construction Association - Vancouver Island (BCCA-VI) merge under the VICA banner. • 2011 – VICA opens new premises in Nanaimo.

Lieutenant Governor’s Reception to commemorate VICAs centennial

• 2012 – VICA celebrates 100th anniversary.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Royal B.C. Museum. Photo: Farmer Construction

Chapter 2 Construction On Vancouver Island The B.C. Construction Industry •

The number of people working in the construction industry has doubled since the turn of the century.

The B.C. construction industry employs more people than forestry, mining, fishing and agriculture combined.

In 2008, construction became the largest employer in the goods sector.

Between 1995 and 2008 the number of jobs in the region’s construction industry increased 71 per cent, growing faster than virtually every other industry in the region.

In 2008, one in ten workers were employed in construction in the Vancouver Island/Coast region.

Between 1995 and 2008 the number of people employed in the construction industry in Vancouver Island/Coast jumped from 23,000 to 39,400.

The unemployment rate in construction has, in recent years, been below average across all industries.

Three-quarters of all construction jobs in B.C. are in Mainland/Southwest and Vancouver Island/Coast.

Source: A Guide to the B.C. Economy and Labour Market; Statistics Canada.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Photo: Farmer Construction



In this chapter we take a look at two buildings, or construction projects, for each decade from 1912-2012. A journey through time that takes us from the Royal Theatre’s Vaudeville architecture, to the Atrium, a 200,000 square foot urban oasis with a seven-storey atrium, and a living roof.

design, the economy through their structure, and their importance by their architectural styling. Buildings also tell the story of political, social, cultural and technological developments, and through those developments, the story of the people who built them.

Walk down any street, in any village, town, or city on Vancouver Island; take a look around: you will see the work of members of the construction community. These are the people who take the creative inspiration of architects like Francis Rattenbury and John Di Castri, and turn that into reality. Without them, there would be only drawings.

The following pages are like an art gallery catalogue: they describe the combined work of Vancouver Island’s contractors and tradespeople over the last 100 years. Unfortunately, as in the world of art, we can show only a fraction of the projects these highly skilled professionals have undertaken over the past century.

The history of a place, and the cultural changes it undergoes are reflected in its buildings. They demonstrate the history of art through their

The story of building Vancouver Island over the last 100 years features romance and adventure, trial and tribulation and not a few outstanding

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

successes. Imagine hauling a 72-inch telescope, weighing nine and a half tons, from downtown Victoria up Little Saanich Mountain by horse and cart and you can see the sheer tenacity of the early pioneers of the construction community on the Island. In 1925, in building Crystal Garden, builders floated the whole structure on a raft of concrete instead of sinking pilings into the bedrock - amazing engineering in itself, but even more so when you consider it had to support 232,000 gallons (approximately 1.1 million kilograms) of water for the pool. Over the last century Vancouver Island contractors have contended with two world wars, the Great Depression and several recessions. Not only that, they have lived through bank rates as high as 21.03 per cent (August 1981), and an average 5-year residential mortgage lending rate of 21.46 per cent (September 1981). Yet they survive and continue to erect groundbreaking buildings such as the First People’s House at the University of Victoria, recognized as one of the best Western Red Cedar architectural designs in the world by the Western Red Cedar Architectural Design Awards. The Canada Green Building Council officially recognized the building, opened in 2010, with goldlevel certification in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building program. This chapter chronicles only the beginning of the story of building Vancouver Island. The work of these contractors and tradespeople paves the way for a new generation of construction leaders who will build on their legacy. There are exciting times ahead as architects and engineers continue to push the boundaries and the construction community rises to the challenge.

Photo: Farmer Construction

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years



1912 • Construction begins on Victoria’s first skyscraper for B.C. Permanent Loan Co. (northeast corner Douglas and Johnson)

• Building permits for year total $8,060,170

1913 • Work begins on Saanich to Patricia Bay railway

• Province‑wide depression starts, real estate collapses

• The Royal Theatre in Victoria opens

• Building permits for year total less than $4,000,000

1914 • Britain declares war on Germany; Canada enters the war

• Victoria High School; Margaret Jenkins School and Harewood School (Nanaimo) open

• Dominion Astrophysical Observatory opens

1915 • Lusitania sunk by Germany 1916 • Provincial referendum establishes women’s suffrage and approves prohibition of alcohol 1917 • B.C. Compensation Act - collieries, logging companies, etc., must provide widows’ pensions

• Workman’s Compensation Board established

1918 • End of World War One 1920 • Women vote for first time in provincial election 1921 • Prohibition ends in B.C. Government Liquor Vendors set up

Belmont Building, Victoria, B.C.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

• New fire insurance maps for Victoria drawn up

• Victoria uses Federal Government’s Better Housing Act funds to build 54 houses for returned soldiers

• Canada Census - Victoria’s population is 38,727; Saanich 10,534; Nanaimo 6,304, Courtenay 810; Port Alberni 1,056

Timeline information:

Royal Theatre

The Royal Theatre (originally Royal Victoria Theatre) has an interesting history; from 1913, when it was built, until 1930 it offered musical and vaudeville shows. It is hailed as one of the finest examples of large-scale Vaudeville architecture in the country with its stunning Rococo/Renaissance revival style decor. In 1930, Famous Players purchased the theatre simplified its name to the Royal Theatre and turned it into a movie theatre, until around 1980 when it reverted to being a live theatre. Since then, many of the all-time greats have performed on its stage including Sarah Bernhardt, Carlos Montoya, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Luciano Pavarotti, National Ballet of Canada, Crosby, Stills, and Nash and Tony Bennett. Key architectural features include the decorative pattern of the exterior brickwork and the glazed terra-cotta tiles. The auditorium has survived intact and features bas-relief plasterwork, a cantilevered single balcony and a large proscenium-arch stage. According to the Canadian Register of Historic Places, what sets the Royal Theatre apart in terms of its heritage value are features such as: the surviving classically inspired, exterior detailing including the arched entry, terra-cotta window surrounds, some with balustraded balconies, and bas-relief panels and friezes. In addition, the ornate, classically-inspired interior detailing, particularly of the auditorium with its proscenium, pedimented doorway surrounds, the ceiling mouldings, swagged cartouches, rosettes and sculptures. Sources: The Canadian Register of Historic Places; The Royal and McPherson Theatres Society (RMTS); Pacific Opera Victoria.

Photo: Royal McPherson Theatres Society

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics) The observatory that sits at the top of Little Saanich Mountain was built between 1914 and 1918 and is today one of the oldest and most important observatories in the country. In 1916, one of Victoria’s early construction firms, Luney Bros. Ltd. transported the scientific equipment from the CPR freight shed on Government Street up Little Saanich Mountain by horse and cart. This was no mean feat as the 72” telescope, resting on a bed of straw, alone weighed 9.5 tons. It took two weeks to deliver all the equipment. The observatory is a wonderful example of the Moderne Classic style of architecture, a style that embraced the machine aesthetic and technological advancements in construction of the period, but at the same time retained much classic detailing. The dome, which contains two arched slats that open to allow the telescope to be trained on the night sky, is 20.2 metres in diameter and 22.3 in height. The building itself is steel framed and clad in white metal panels. Drawing on international expertise the design was at the forefront of technology at the time for an observatory. It remained one of the world’s primary astrophysical research centres until the 1960s. The observatory became home to the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in 1995. Sources: The Canadian Register of Historic Places; Luney Bros. Ltd. by Nancy J. Hughes; National Research Council.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

1922 • Rules of the road change on Vancouver Island; vehicles to be driven on the right side of road, like rest of province


• Johnson Street Bridge southern span formally opens to traffic

1923 • Victoria and Saanich open new inter municipal cemetery, Royal Oak Burial Park 1924 • Present Johnson Street Bridge opens

• The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Steamship Terminal constructed

1926 • Fairfield United Church built

• Crystal Garden opens

1927 • Canada’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations

• Victoria’s first zoning bylaw implemented

1928 • B.C.’s first all-electric home opens in Fairfield; 15,000 people attend open-house week

• Minimum wage is set at $7 per day in an agreement between International Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and the General Contractors Association of Victoria

1929 • B.C. Water Act creates Provincial Water Board

• B.C. Government builds concrete Benvenuto Rd from West Saanich Road to Butchart Gardens

• New York Stock Market crashes - Great Depression begins

• Christ Church Cathedral is consecrated (building incomplete)

1930 • Royal Jubilee Hospital nurses’ residences built

• Work starts on construction of the South Fork Dam (Nanaimo) project

Johnson Street Bridge, Victoria, B.C.

1931 • Canada Census - Victoria population 39,082; Saanich 12,968; Nanaimo 6,745, Courtenay 1,219; Port Alberni 2,356

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Old Courtenay Post Office Built between 1924 and 1926, the original Courtenay Post Office is a wonderful example of how a building can define the importance of a place. In this case the building was a symbol that Courtenay was important enough to warrant an imposing federal building. When the original post office moved from Fifth Street to this impressive brick and concrete masonry building, with its classical and art deco architecture, it was hugely beneficial to the growth and stature of Courtenay’s downtown core. The building has seen many uses over the years including: Customs Office; Veterans Land Act Office; Fisheries Office; and Unemployment Photo: Courtenay and District Museum 988.132.19 Office. In fact, Canada Customs only recently vacated the second floor after almost 60 years. It has been part of the history of the town and has played an important social role within the community, and continues to do so to this day. Of architectural note is the building’s rectangular form and horizontal massing, the arched doorways supported by square columns, and the patterned red and yellow brick detailing in the parapet. The building was added to in the 1950s, but retains its imposing façade. It is interesting to note that the lumber used was from local sawmills, and the brick from Victoria, and Alberta. Today the building houses the Courtenay and District Museum and Visitor’s Centre; an excellent re-purposing of this splendid building. Source: The Canadian Register of Historic Places.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Crystal Garden

Crystal Garden (not Gardens) was built in 1925, designed by Francis Mawson Rattenbury and P.L. James and built in just six months (due to the use of prefabricated components) by Luney Bros. Ltd at a cost of $111,118. A collaboration between Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and the City of Victoria, CPR spent an additional $308,000 on the building by the time it opened. It was named (by Rattenbury) after the iconic Crystal Palace, in London, England. According to The Canadian Register of Historic Places (CRHP), “The architectural value of Crystal Garden resides in its distinctive design and its landmark presence. The ‘crystal palace’ appearance is unique among buildings in Victoria and is defined by its distinctive glass roof and horizontal massing. It is notable that this design, for the Canadian Pacific Railway, went back to Rattenbury’s triumphs from an earlier era, as it extends his vision for the Inner Harbour. Crystal Garden is a reflection

of the nineteenth century industrial world of steel - reminiscent of railway architecture - and the genteel traditions of glass-enclosed spaces.” Originally called an “Amusement Centre” Crystal Garden was used as a conference centre and also featured the largest indoor saltwater swimming pool in the British Empire, containing 232,000 gallons of water. The steel and glass structure, a first in Canada when it was built, also housed an art gallery, concert space, botanical gardens and a gymnasium. CPR saw it as a way to attract visitors to Victoria and the Empress hotel. Eighty-seven years later Crystal Garden has returned to its original status as a conference centre (an extension of the Victoria Convention Centre) and continues to attract visitors to the City. Sources: CRHP; Provincial Capital Commission; Built by Luney Bros. Ltd. by Nancy J. Hughes; Andrew Waveryn, Crystal Garden.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Photos: Andrew Waveryn, Crystal Garden


1932 • City of Victoria pays $374,621 relief to unemployed 1934 • Frank Beban opens sawmill in Nanaimo, using logs from Galiano and Gabriola islands 1935 • Federal Government Dominion Housing Act lends funds for housing through financial institutions and other governments; creates Economic Council of Canada to advise on housing conditions

• Bank of Canada rate 2.50 per cent

1936 • Federal Government’s Home Improvement Loan and Guarantee Act - small loans up to $2000 at 3.25 per cent for upgrading homes 1937 • Hanging flower baskets on light standards introduced for 75th anniversary of Victoria’s civic incorporation

• New Bastion Street Bridge opens in Nanaimo

1938 • Federal Government rewrites National Housing Act (NHA) - loans up to 90 per cent of purchase price 1939 • Britain, France and Canada declare war on Germany 1940 • Nanaimo Civic Arena opens 1941 • Federal Government income tax revived as “temporary war-time measure” (never rescinded)

Victoria harbour from the Belmont Building 1932. Photo: Saanich Archives 2007-053-068


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

• Right to strike removed for duration of war

• Japan bombs Pearl Harbour, USA in WWII; war in Pacific begins

• Bank of Canada rate 2.50 per cent

• Canada Census - Victoria’s population is 44,068; Saanich 18,173; Nanaimo 6,635, Courtenay 1,737; Port Alberni 4,584

Photos: Royal Roads University

The Grant Building

Built as a cadet block in late 1943 by Luney Bros. Ltd., the construction of the Grant Building cost $340,000. The building was named after Captain J.M. Grant, who was appointed the Captain of HMCS Royal Roads in 1940 and later was also in command of the Royal Canadian Naval College. It featured a grand and impressive quarterdeck, a small chapel, classrooms, science laboratories, offices, gun rooms, dormitories, a library and a mess hall. The flat-roofed, three-story building, with two, twostory pavilions to either side of the main block, was designed in an Art Deco style and features a symmetrical façade. Other features include mullioned windows, a large oriel window above the entrance, and regular placement of pilaster buttresses rising up to the third story, along with a crenellated roofline. A small clock tower projects from the top of the three-story central block. The building’s restrained Gothic decoration complements Hatley Castle and is well situated to make the most of its relationship to the castle, and to the landscaped grounds. The Grant Building was recognized as a Federal Heritage Building in 1990. Sources: The Canadian Register of Historic Places; Luney Bros. Ltd. by Nancy J. Hughes; B.C. Archives Terrence Williams Archtiect Inc.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Mount View High School Photo: Saanich Archives 2011-024-074

This British Arts and Crafts style school was built in 1931, and opened its doors a year later. The architects were Hubert Savage and Eric Clarkson and the general contractor was a local man, A. McKinty. The two-storey structure was built during the Depression at a cost of $45,250 and was situated on a large piece of land on Carey Road in Saanich. This investment by the Saanich School Board reflected development in the area, and the resulting population growth. The school was named Mount View, because of the view it had of the Olympic Mountain Range to the south. The original school had ten classrooms, an auditorium and office space serving 265 students in its first year of operation. Outside, there were several playing fields and tennis courts. As the community grew, and new sub-divisions appeared around the school, additions to the building were undertaken. In 1945 metalwork and woodworking shops were added; in 1952 students welcomed a gymnasium and library; in 1957 new classrooms and science laboratories were built and in 1966, when the student population was approaching 800, the technical building was renovated and enlarged. The British Arts and Crafts style is evident in the stucco cladding and half-timber details. The gable on the hipped roof, the battered corners, and the Tudor arches on the south and east entrance porches all epitomized the Arts and Crafts style. Other interesting architectural details include leaded glass panels on the windows, a stained glass window on the main stairway, and the long banks of wooden sash windows. Unfortunately the building was demolished in 2007. Sources: Vancouver Island University; The Canadian Register of Historic Places; Saanich Archives.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

1942 • Bank of Canada rate 2.50 per cent • Federal Government creates crown corporation, Wartime Housing Ltd., to build “Victory Houses”


1944 • June 6 - D-Day in Europe; allies enter France

• Building materials all put into war effort

1945 • End of European conflict, Japan surrenders, end of WWII

• WWII Veterans’ housing program begins

1946 • Federal Government creates Central Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) • United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers strike, demanding 40 per cent an hour increase

• Lumber workers strike

• Annual Holidays Act enacted

1947 • Post-war housing shortage leads to the conversion of many large homes to boarding houses 1948 • Electric streetcar system is abandoned

• Bank of Canada rate 1.50 per cent

1949 • CPR’s ferry terminal officially opened (Nanaimo) 1950 • Korean War begins. Severe metal shortages (i.e. hot water tanks, furnaces, hardware) 1951 • Federal Government, through National Housing Act (NHA), doubles down payments required for houses and reduces amount available for loans • National House Builders Association promotes home bomb shelters for Cold War

• Bank of Canada rate 2.00 per cent

• Canada Census - Victoria population 51,331; Saanich 28,481; Nanaimo 7,196; Courtenay 2,553; Port Alberni 7,845; Campbell River 1,986

Lionel Houle 1944. Photo: Houle Electric

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Bank of Toronto Building

Currently the University of Victoria’s Legacy Art Gallery, the building was originally built as the Bank of Toronto’s Victoria head office, between 1949 and 1951. It also housed the Starfish Glassworks for many years - a popular tourist and local attraction. The architect was William F. Gardiner, who designed many banking and insurance buildings during his career. This building was one of his last projects, as he died the year the bank opened. In this postwar period, banks were trying to show they were progressive, but still cautious, and this simple, yet impressive building exemplifies that philosophy. Its restrained modernist design is stripped of any classical references, it has a flat roof and low cubic massing. The entrance is chamfered, which is a typical architectural feature common with financial institutions (another example is the Bank of Montreal building on Yates and Douglas streets). Above the entrance is an impressive Bank of Toronto bas-relief corporate crest which states: Industry - Intelligence - Integrity. Although the design epitomizes a modern, progressive, forward-thinking, but cautious institution, the materials used were of the highest quality. The stone cladding was made from Andesite stone from Haddington Island, a small island that lies off the northern shores of Vancouver Island. Andesite is a class of volcanic rock, named after the Andes mountain range. This is the same stone that was used to build the Parliament Buildings and therefore had somewhat of a cache at the time. The foundation, window and door surrounds are all made of black polished granite and inside there are polished marble-clad walls and travertine flooring. Overall, a wonderful example of Modernism in Victoria. Source: The Canadian Register of Historic Places.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Harmac Pulp Mill

MacMillan Export Co. Ltd. built the new mill for its division Nanaimo Sulphate Pulp Limited, at a cost of $22.5 million. In early 1949 there were 1,200 tradespeople involved in building the mill; the company reported that $4.2 million would be distributed in wages during construction. The mill, which officially opened June 1950, was designed by engineer H.A. Simons and was the first chlorine dioxide bleached sulphate mill in Canada. The name Harmac was derived from Harvey MacMillan, a partner in MacMillan-Bloedel. When it opened, 250 men and women had regular employment, a figure which doubled within ten years. At the time, the mill was seen as using responsible environmental management. Innovations included the use of recycled waste wood and recycling chemicals used in its manufacturing processes. The mill was responsible for the forestry industry supplanting coal mining as the primary economic driver for the City of Nanaimo. By 1953 the mill had doubled its size, and was expanded again in 1963. Today the Harmac mill produces high quality kraft pulps from custom blends of Douglas fir, western hemlock, balsam fir, interior SPF and western red cedar. The pulp is sold in Asia, Europe, North America, and Latin America. The company is now employee-owned, an organizational ownership structure unique to British Columbia’s industrial manufacturing sector, for a business of this scale. Sources: Harmac Pacific; Nanaimo Archives; Nanaimo Museum; Pope and Talbot Ltd.

Photo: Nanaimo Community Archives

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years



1952 • Bank of Canada rate 2.00 per cent 1954 • New National Housing Act - end of Federal loans, new loan-insurance system; banks allowed to offer mortgages 1956 • Census - Victoria’s population is 54,584; Saanich 38,358; Nanaimo 12,705; Courtenay 3,025; Port Alberni 13,373; Campbell River 3,069

• New federal government building opens on Front Street, Nanaimo

• Nanaimo gets new city police building

1957 • First shopping mall on Vancouver Island opens in Nanaimo - Terminal Park Plaza

• Crofton Pulp Mill opens

• Bank of Canada rate 3.97 per cent

1958 • Centennial of Colony of British Columbia 1959 • City rejects Vancouver developer’s bid to demolish City Hall, begins development of Centennial Square 1960 • B.C. Ferry Corporation runs first ferry from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay

• B.C. Ferry Corporation runs first ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen

• Fire destroys Nanaimo’s Chinatown

Saanich Fire Station No 1 with 1958 Ford Tanker and 1957 FWD Douglas Street 1958.

• Bank of Canada rate 4.91 per cent

Photo: Saanich Archives 2006-014-026

1961 • Canada Census - Victoria now 54,941; Saanich 48,876; Nanaimo 14,135; Courtenay 3,485; Port Alberni 11,560; Campbell River 3,737


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

• New municipal library opens in Nanaimo

Swartz Bay Terminal The building of the Swartz Bay ferry terminal was an important milestone for the construction community; up to that time building materials had to be barged over from the mainland, which was both costly and inconvenient. Regular ferry service, with several sailings a day, was a huge step forward. Originally it was thought the terminal would be located in Sidney, using an existing dock; however it was calculated fuel savings of around $80,000 could be gained by siting it at Swartz Bay. Another factor was the crossing time from Sidney would not have allowed for a two-hour shuttle.

Photo: Farmer Construction

Premier Amor de Cosmos, in 1889, was the first person to suggest Swartz Bay be used as a ferry terminal. It is interesting to note the bay was named after its one-time owner, John Aaron Swart. At some point a spelling error was made and the bay became Swartz Bay, not Swarts Bay. The whole idea of a ferry was not popular at first; ministers of the day would mockingly refer to the idea of running ferries back and forth to the mainland as Gaglardi’s Navy, after the colourful Minister of Highways who was also often called Commodore Gaglardi. Of course, once the first ferry sailed, everyone changed their tune and the new service became extremely popular. By April 1960 construction was in full swing, with work on an extension to the Pat Bay highway, a jetty and wharf, ferry service offices and traffic facilities. On June 15, 1960 the terminal officially opened on a rainy day with passengers complaining they were up to their knees in mud. Indeed, in those early days the terminal was simply known as the Mudhole. The first ship to sail was the M.V. Sidney, under the captaincy of Paddy Hannigan, although the terminal was still under construction. Sources: B.C. Archives; B.C. Ferries; The Ships of B.C., Gary and Patricia Bannerman.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


E.B. Paul Building Camosun College The E.B. Paul Building, opened in 1961, was named after Dr. Edward B. Paul. He led Victoria High from 1892 to 1908, then became City Superintendent of Schools and later Principal of Victoria College. Victoria College became the foundation of the University of Victoria at Gordon Head. Architectural work for the building was carried out by the Provincial Department of Public Works and provides an example of a further departure from the influence of the previous century. Architects were turning away from 19th century design and moving toward contemporary modernism. The building consists of two, two-story blocks pinned together by a threestory central tower with its ground level entrance foyer opening on axis through the building. The building’s exterior form reveals the interior organization. The two classroom and office wings seem almost suspended above the concrete basement level. The glazed curtain walls are pinned to the building by vertical bars that intersect the window bands and create a strong, abstract, undulating rhythm as windows play against the wall surfaces.  The central stair tower, in stark vertical contrast to these horizontal planes, is marked by the use of faceted concrete blocks punctured on each side by six rows of small square portholes. These create a remarkable effect on the interior, at once illuminating the space with shots of light while providing small framed views outward for the intrepid stair climber within.

Photo: University of Victoria


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Sources: Prof. Martin Segger, MPHIL, FCMA, FRSA, University of Victoria; from ‘The Lansdowne Era’, copyright 2008.

1962 • $10 million Hillside Mall opens in Victoria • Bank of Canada rate 3.35 per cent


1963 • City begins restoration/redevelopment of Bastion Square • John Fitzgerald Kennedy assassinated 1965 • City begins using Mud Bay on south shore of Victoria West as garbage dump

• Modern Canadian flag, bearing hallmark maple leaf, raised for first time on Parliament Hill

1966 • Census - Victoria population 57,45; Saanich 58,845; Nanaimo 15,188; Courtenay 4,913; Port Alberni 13,755; Campbell River 7,825 1967 • Canada’s 100th anniversary • Bowen Park complex opened in Nanaimo

• The Regional District of Nanaimo established

• Harbour Park Mall, Nanaimo, opens

1968 • University of Victoria begins 4-year inventory of City’s heritage buildings

• Bank of Canada rate 7.00 per cent

1969 • City builds large retaining wall around Gonzales (Foul) Bay to prevent further erosion following a major storm the previous year

• Malaspina College opens

1970 • Three people killed when a Soviet freighter collides with the Queen of Victoria in Active Pass

• Bank of Canada rate 8.00 per cent

1971 • B.C.’s Centennial as a province of Canada • Canada Census - Victoria now 61,761; Saanich 65,040; Nanaimo 14,948; Courtenay 7,152; Port Alberni 20,063; Campbell River 10,000

Royal B.C. Museum under construction

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Saanich Municipal Hall Saanich Municipal Hall was built between 1964-65 by George H. Wheaton Limited, after submitting the winning bid of $611,616. The final cost of the building, which opened on December 1, 1965, including furnishings, was approximately $800,000.

Jennifer & Colin Barr Collection. Photo: Saanich Archives 2006-015-222c.

The architect for Saanich Municipal Hall was Peter Blewett of Wade Stockdill and Armour. Peter Blewett in an interview before his death confirmed that his influence for this building was the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. Tange’s work was influenced by Le Corbusier the Swiss/ French architect and certainly the “Corbu” influence is easily recognized in this building.

Le Corbusier, used exposed, board-formed reinforced concrete as a plastic medium to define zones of function within a building through sculptural and structural interventions. This influence is reflected in the Saanich Municipal Hall by the stairwells on the centre front and the south end that are placed inside articulated towers. The front tower is a part of the ceremonial entranceway to the centre of the interior public space. Original features include a huge skylight that serves two galleried floors and the ground floor, flooding the main public areas with evenly diffused daylight1. What is interesting is that this extremely progressive architecturally iconic building can be seen as an extension of the early “Modernist” work of Wade Stockdill and Armour. Interior fittings, fixtures murals and furniture were also designed by the architects. The design was chosen to emphasize Saanich as a progressive municipality, becoming increasingly urban from its semi-rural roots. One important element to note is the building design, the interior design, and the exterior landscaping were all given equal importance. Outside, at the front, is a circular pond and pathway leading to the grand front entrance; at the back, overlooking Swan Lake, there is lush landscaping and another water feature. Sources: 1; The District of Saanich; Terence Williams Architect.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Student Union Building: University of Victoria The original Student Union Building was designed by well-known, Victoria-born, architect John Di Castri and was constructed between 1962 and 1965 at a cost of $15.84 per square foot. It was Farmer Construction’s first building project on the University campus, and the University’s second building. At that time the most essential aspect of the campus plan, the ring road, was only partially in place; this led to significant challenges in accessing the site as the structure was built using reinforced concrete with masonry infill. The building also featured brick masonry and stucco walls. Di Castri strayed from modern architectural principles and decided to feature the classical roots of monumental architecture. He used freestanding columns and a beamend frieze at the roof line. The distinctive sculptural Photo: University of Victoria pillars were cast on site. Di Castri went to great lengths to work with the sculptural effects of light within the building. To this end, he opened up a dry basement “moat” around the building and tucked clerestory windows under the soffits while also integrating complex skylight structures. Di Castri also designed a light sculpture for the lounge. In 1972, the lower level of the building was renovated to upgrade recreation facilities and to build the “SUB Pub.” A two-storey addition was built in 1975 (at a cost of $59.33 per square foot) to house a cinema and twenty years later a substantial eastern wing was added. The new design used a Post-Modern urban mall “festival” vocabulary to enclose a shopping and services concourse and weakened the architectural integrity of Di Castri’s original design. Sources: Martin Segger: University of Victoria; Farmer Construction.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years



1973 • Greater Victoria citizens form Hallmark Society, a volunteer group dedicated to preserving heritage

• Nanaimo Regional General Hospital opens at present location

• Bank of Canada rate 4.75 per cent

1974 • City designates first three heritage houses and a number of commercial buildings on Wharf Street 1975 • Environment Canada switches to degrees Celsius 1976 • Census - Victoria’s population is 62,552; Saanich 73,383; Nanaimo 40,336; Courtenay 7,733; Port Alberni 19,585; Campbell River 12,072

• Bank of Canada rate 9.00 per cent

1977 • City begins funding restoration and maintenance of designated heritage houses with property tax rebates

• All Canadian road signs are converted to metric units

1979 • A reconstructed Bastion Street Bridge (the third) officially opens in Nanaimo University of Victoria. Photo: Farmer Construction

• VIA Rail passenger service opens Victoria to Courtenay

1980 • Nanaimo Country Club Mall opened • “O Canada” becomes official national anthem 1981 • Canada Census - Victoria population 63,800; Saanich 78,710; Nanaimo 47,069; Courtenay 8,992; Port Alberni 19,892; Campbell River 15,832


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

• Nanaimo Woodgrove Centre opens

• Bank of Canada rate 17.0 per cent

Woodgrove Centre - Nanaimo

When the Woodgrove Centre opened September 30, 1981, it was Vancouver Island’s largest mall at more than half a million square feet, built at a cost of $35 million. At the time, the project was to be the first phase of a $60 million project and was to include a hotel and office building on the 47-acre site. As the Centre was built, the economy was spiraling into deep decline and the construction timeline was exceptionally tight. At its busiest, the site had a record-breaking 425 workers onsite. One reason no doubt for the mall’s construction success was the owner’s decision to engage Norm Fletcher as construction manager. Norm later went on to manage landmark projects in Vancouver such as Library Square, a $160 million facility designed by Moshe Sadie, and the $400 million Canada Place Pavilion on the city’s waterfront. Developers were the T. Eaton Company and a group of local investors led by Deane Finlayson. Finlayson was a well-known and respected local resident, who in the 1950s had been the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of B.C. This colourful character, a close friend of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, was made an honorary chief of the Shuswap First Nation and became known as Chief Straight Tongue. Eatons and Woodwards were anchor tenants, to the south and the north of the mall, with the latter taking over 105,000 square feet of space, which could be extended at a later date to 140,000 if required. The east wing featured a 35,000 square foot Woodward Food Floor, and the west wing a Famous Players triple screen movie theatre complex. In expectation of the mall becoming a regional shopping destination, there was parking for 2,600 cars. Interestingly, considering today’s emphasis on green construction, it was said the Woodwards store was so large, the lightbulbs alone could provide most of the heat for the store. It was reported at the time, that once the mall was at capacity, if a shopper was to spend just five minutes in each store, it would take them ten hours to visit every store in the mall!    Sources: Farmer Construction; Nanaimo Daily News; Chatwin Engineering; Mark Fenwick, GM, Woodgrove Centre.

Photos: Woodgrove Centre, Nanaimo, B.C.

Chateau Victoria Hotel And Suites This landmark Victoria hotel sits on a remarkable plot of land, originally the home of the Wilson family, on the top of the hill at 727 Courtney Street. The 1880s era white mansion was eventually replaced by the hotel, built in 1975 at a cost of $4 million by Farmer Construction and Capital City Car Parks (George Farmer and Victor Wilson). The building is reinforced concrete. An additional 17,000 square foot office building adjoins the hotel at the back. In the original nineteen floors, the first three were hotel rooms, the rest were apartments. Hotel features included a large swimming pool and two restaurants (Sugar’d Mule on the main floor and the iconic Parrot House on the 18th). The signature design feature of the building was the mammoth skylight covering the pool and the 18th floor restaurant. It gives a remarkable 360° view of Victoria - beautiful by day, dazzling by night. In 1978, the building was bought for $6 million by Park Pacific Apartments; in 1989, Clive Piercy became sole owner, after buying out partners Rob McAdams and Hugo Hucker. Conversions from apartments to hotel rooms were done in the 1980s; as a tenant chose to vacate an apartment, it was converted to a hotel room.   1989 saw major changes: reconfiguration of the entrance, driveway and lobby. The famous fountain and the porte-cochère were added; some rooms were converted to offices and Sugar’d Mule became Victoria Jane’s, named for the daughter of the Wilson family. More recent changes saw the Parrot House become Vista 18; Victoria Jane’s, Clive’s Classic Lounge. ‘Shaker’, the German Short-haired Pointer immortalized in bronze who has long overseen the entrance, continues as a symbol of the hotel’s welcoming pet policy.   Photo: Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Source: Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites.


1982 • Bank of Canada rate 14.72 per cent 1983 • 10-year B.C. Parliament Buildings restoration completed

• Hovercraft ferry service launches between Nanaimo and Vancouver

1985 • Victoria elects Gretchen Brewin first female Mayor of Victoria

• Seaplane terminal opens in Nanaimo harbour

• Coast Bastion Hotel, Nanaimo opens

1986 • Census - Victoria’s population is 66,303; Saanich 82,940; Nanaimo 49,029; Courtenay 9,631; Port Alberni 18,241; Campbell River 16,986

• Bank of Canada rate 10.33 per cent

1987 • Bank of Canada rate 7.74 per cent 1988 • Harbourside Walkway opens in Nanaimo 1989 • Victoria Civic Heritage Trust (VCHT) established to fund restoration of downtown designated heritage buildings 1990 • Bank of Canada rate 12.29 per cent 1991 • Canada Census - Victoria population 71,228; Saanich 95,577; Nanaimo 60,129; Courtenay 11,652; Port Alberni 18,403; Campbell River 21,175

McKenzie overpass construction 1983. Photo: Saanich Archives 1992-007-033

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


The Coast Bastion Inn - Nanaimo The Coast Bastion Inn opened in the fall of 1985 and was the first full-service hotel to be built in Nanaimo for more than half a century. It was built and financed by the Nanaimo Bastion Hotel Corporation, which was made up of four union pension funds. The unions were: Operating Engineers; IWA, Electricians, and Labourers. At the time the president of the corporation, Jack Whittaker, was quoted as saying, “The project is unique in that a broad spectrum of trade and industry participated in creating a first-class building.” The hotel site was selected in June 1978, and in February 1979 a positive feasibility study, carried out by Peat, Marwick, resulted in interest from both Ramada Inns, and Holiday Inns. In April 1981, A & B Construction Company and Hamilton-Doyle were appointed as contractors and designers. In 1983, the property was sold to the consortium and construction commenced in 1984. The $16m, 15-floor, 180 room property made expansive use of glass to maximize the views of the harbour and the Strait of Georgia from the lounges and restaurants. The interior decor was in rosy hues and featured works by B.C. artists. The hotel also had a nightclub called Magnetics that was touted as being, “as smart and trendy as any of Vancouver’s night spots.” The construction resulted in 29,000 days of employment and created 120 full-time jobs. Photo: Coast Bastion Inn


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Sources: Coast Bastion Inn, Nanaimo; B.C. Hotelman magazine.

Wilkinson Road Jail

During the 1980’s, BCBC, the British Columbia Building Corporation, was commissioned  to update the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre known less formally as Photo: Bill Johnson, Farmer Construction the Wilkinson Road Jail. In 1986, they first constructed a new portion of the facility to the rear of the historic “castle”, then tendered a $10 million contract to restore and modify the “castle” portion to complete the project. Farmer Construction was the selected contractor. The “castle” was originally built in 1913 as a provincial insane asylum. When Farmer began selective demolition of the structure, the old building was relatively unchanged from the way it was in 1913: dungeon-like solitary confinement holding cells with plate steel doors, walls scratched with eerie messages from previous occupants, an archaic morgue. Several months prior to demolition, the prisoners had rioted and the province had decided not to spend money repairing broken windows or toilets.  Rarely does a contractor get a chance to remove the internal structure of an old masonry building while stabilizing the exterior walls, underpinning the foundations, and constructing a new concrete structure internally that will house medium security inmates. Like most modern prisons, Wilkinson Road had all the high-tech security components including cameras, security elevators and pneumatic jail cell locks. One of the unlikely challenges faced by Farmer was the pneumatic jail cell locking system. BCBC had selected a new product, still in the development stage, with ‘the bugs’ still being worked out. Half way through construction, the lock system inventor died; it was left to technicians at Farmer to finalize the development and manufacturing process and commission the locking system. Working in an environment that houses prisoners has its challenges. Although a medium security prison, it also houses criminals on remand charged with more violent and dangerous crimes. During construction, it housed several criminals that fit this category who were on trial in Nanaimo. For several weeks the worksite and entrances were shut down periodically, this was to enable a SWAT team of highly armed militia and police dogs to marshall a convoy of vehicles on their way to or from the trials. Workers were told to be still and not to make any sudden moves, or the dogs might attack. Little did the workers know that during this time, these criminals were rumored to be planning an escape! So in the darkness of night there were several armed guards lying in the ditches surrounding the prison. Who says building contractors don’t lead exciting lives? Source: Bill Johnson, Farmer Construction.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years



1992 • The Nanaimo Express passenger ferry begins service between Nanaimo and Vancouver

• Bank of Canada rate 7.08 per cent

1993 • B.C. Government passes new Heritage legislation 1994 • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) enacted 1995 • Bank of Canada rate 8.38 per cent 1996 • Census - Victoria’s population is 73,504; Saanich 101,388; Nanaimo 70,130; Courtenay 17,335; Port Alberni 18,468; Campbell River 28,851

• Snow blankets Victoria (124 cm) insurance claims $120m - largest ever for B.C.

1997 • Nanaimo Parkway opens • Duke Point Ferry Terminal opens 1998 • City passes Property Tax Incentive bylaw to promote residential conversion of downtown heritage buildings

• Port Theatre, Nanaimo opens

2000 • Bank of Canada rate 5.00 per cent 2001 • $13m Nanaimo Aquatic Centre opens French Creek Bridge, 1993. Knappett Projects


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

• Census - Victoria’s population is 74,125 Saanich 103,654; Nanaimo 73,000; Courtenay 18,304; Port Alberni 17,743; Campbell River 28,456

Photo: The Port Theatre Society

The Port Theatre Nanaimo

The 804 seat Port Theatre opened in September, 1998, on Nanaimo’s waterfront, built at a cost of $13.5 million. Campbell Construction from Victoria was the General Contractor. Funding came from a Federal/Provincial Infrastructure Works Program grant and community support of $4.5 million. More than 250 events are now held at the theatre every year, attracting over 100,000 people.

Photo: Terence Williams Architect Inc.

Terrence Williams of Victoria was the project’s architect; his objective was to design a theatre with good sight lines, excellent acoustics and a sense of intimacy. Fiftyfive different community groups were involved in the design process, refining and developing the Facility Program for the theatre. The theatre is extremely sophisticated in its complexity of mechanical, electrical and acoustical systems and innovative in its flexibility. The project has received wide recognition and applause and has been illustrated and published internationally. In 1999 it was represented in The Prague Quadrennial International Theatre Architecture Exhibition. Interesting features include: wheelchair access to the stage from the audience chamber, maple panels and articulated concrete walls to modulate a natural acoustic. The room acoustic can be tuned and modified to respond to different uses. The thrust stage, used for music and orchestral performances, can be lowered to provide an orchestra pit for 34 musicians, or additional seating. The stage has a sprung floor; there are 48 line-sets for stage draperies, lights and scenery; and the stage proscenium arch is adjustable from 42 to 48 feet wide to accommodate both dance and drama venues. The blue and green interior colour scheme is a metaphor for the coming together of the land and water, the ocean and forest, in Nanaimo’s urban waterfront. Sources: The Port Theatre Society; Terence Williams Architect Inc.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Diagnostic Treatment Centre: Royal Jubilee Hospital

The Royal Jubilee Hospital started life 150 years ago as a converted parsonage that became the first Home Hospital in the colony. It has been a continual source of work for the construction industry, both locally and further afield ever since. Today, the hospital still uses buildings that were built in the 1920s and 1930s. Until the recent construction of the $348.6 million, 409,000 square foot new Patient Care Centre, which opened in 2011, the largest construction project was the 340,000 square foot, $82 million Diagnostic Treatment Centre built in 2001. This project added 16 operating theatres, pathology laboratories, a digital imaging department, and intensive and critical care departments. The original tender was for $65 million dollars, but additional funding was made available by the B.C. Ministry of Health to add half a floor and relocate several departments. In spite of 400 changes during construction and the added $17 million in value, Farmer Construction opened the facility within three months of its original 30 month timeline. On the same site, and at the same time, Farmer constructed a $5.6 million renal dialysis facility and a 4 storey parking garage. Sources: Vancouver Island Health Authority; Farmer Construction Ltd.

Photos: Farmer Construction


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

2002 • $19m terminal building expansion at Victoria Airport • Bank of Canada rate 2.25 per cent


2003 • In November, Canadian dollar value closed at a 10 year high of $0.7695 U.S. • Victoria Memorial Arena demolished 2004 • Nanaimo voters approve borrowing money for building a downtown convention centre in a referendum

• Canadian dollar climbs above $0.78 U.S.

2005 • Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre opens 2006 • Canada Census - Victoria’s population 78,057; Saanich 108,265; Nanaimo 78,692; Courtenay 21,940; Port Alberni 17,548; Campbell River 29,572

• Nanaimo Ice Centre opens

2007 • Canadian dollar reaches parity with U.S. for first time since 1976 • Government of B.C. commits that all new government facilities must be built to LEED gold or equivalent standards for efficiency, and feature wood as a primary building material where possible

• Bank of Canada rate 4.50 per cent

2008 • A series of bank and insurance company failures in the U.S. triggers a global economic meltdown

• Port of Nanaimo Centre opens

• Morguard Investments unveils Uptown a 1.3 million square foot mixed-use, village-style, urban neighbourhood combining retail, office and residential use

2010 • Atrium, LEED Gold Certified building, completed in Victoria - estimated cost $100m

• 500,000 square feet, first phase of Uptown opens in Saanich

• Bank of Canada rate (January) 0.50 per cent

2011 • City of Langford opened City Centre Park Sportsplex at a cost of $14.1 million • Census - Victoria’s population is 80,017; Saanich 109,752; Nanaimo 83,810; Courtenay 24,099; Port Alberni 17,743; Campbell River 31,186 Uptown, Victoria, B.C.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


First Peoples House: University of Victoria

Photo: UVic Torch Alumni Magazine


The ceremonial doors of the First Peoples House, at the University of Victoria, opened on January 25, 2010. This 1,161 square metre (12,500 square foot) building was designed by Alfred Waugh and reflects the Coast Salish style in features such as rammed earth walls, cedar plank exterior cladding and a ceremonial hall.

to connect on a regular basis with the elders,” says Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi, director of UVic’s Office of Indigenous Affairs. “Although our Indigenous students, staff and faculty are from different nations across the country, we all now have a sense of home, of place and of a stronger connection to the local communities.”

It has since been recognized as one of the best Western Red Cedar architectural designs in the world by the Western Red Cedar Architectural Design Awards. The $7-million project received a $2.6 million funding contribution from the province of British Columbia, support from the Bank of Montreal and TD Bank Financial Group, as well as private donations.

The Canada Green Building Council officially recognized the building, with gold-level certification in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building program.

The building houses the Office of Indigenous Affairs, Aboriginal student counselling services, classroom space, a student lounge, an elders’ lounge, faculty offices, as well as a ceremonial hall and kitchen.

The building’s sustainability features include: recycled materials, including steel reinforcing bars and reclaimed red cedar; a green roof; natural light in 90 per cent of the building via exterior glazing; a seasonal storm retention pond fed by roof runoff; natural ventilation, including a ventilation corridor and window vents with sensors; and landscaping with native trees and vegetation.

“The house provides an important central gathering space and a place

Source: University of Victoria.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


The Atrium building is one of the most talked about buildings in Victoria in recent years. Its seven-storey central atrium offers a dynamic public space, available for receptions and other events. The space encourages people to wander in off the street to shop, have coffee, or just sit on one of the sculptured public benches and pass the time of day. The Atrium is large at 200,000 square feet, and runs the length of a city block. The building was designed to optimize energy efficiency and environmentally conscious operations. It was recently awarded LEED Gold Certification from the Canada Green Building Council. The atrium itself provides light to the curving glass-walled offices, which are accented with wood paneled slats. This reduces the need for artificial light and allows office workers with inside-facing offices to see daylight. Mountain pine beetle lumber and laminated blocks of reclaimed fir were used to build the trusses that hold up the massive skylight. Innovative green techniques abound: the roof is planted with local grasses and sedums; rain gardens catch and clean run-off; modular walls make demolishing and rebuilding interior walls to meet the needs of new tenants, a thing of the past. It is truly a building of the twenty-first century striving as it does to fit the urban environment around it, while seeking sustainability at every turn. At the same time it has a human scale and considers the health and well-being of the people who occupy it every day. Victoria’s construction industry has come a long way since building the Royal Theatre in 1912, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the people who use the buildings we construct. Sources: Jawl Properties Ltd.; D’Ambrosio architecture + urbanism; Campbell Construction Ltd.

Photo: Jawl Properties Ltd.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Chapter 3 - VICA Members Introduction An association that has lasted for 100 years can only have done so through the dedication of its members and in particular those who have chaired and stood on boards, committees, and led the organization. It is an impossible task to mention every person who contributed to the success of this association, or even start to thank them for the endless hours of volunteer work; and financial commitment that have made this centennial celebration possible; the list runs into the thousands. However, it would be remiss not to mention a few of those who were integral to ensuring the survival and growth of the association. For instance, Walter Luney, of Luney Bros. Ltd. who was a charter member of the Victoria Builders Exchange in 1911, before it incorporated, and William Alfred Luney who was president in 1943 around the time it became Victoria Building Industries Exchange Ltd. In some cases, generation after generation of family business members have supported the association; as in the case of Farmer Construction Ltd., where five members of the family have chaired the association over the years. VICA today continues to enjoy the support of a third generation of the family and its employees. Another family business that offered long-term support was Wheaton Construction; George and Bob Wheaton both chaired the association, some 15 years apart, at important moments in its history. In the days of the Construction Association of Victoria (CAV), the names Ken Cambell, John Chew, Ken Farey, Ray Farmer, Al Graham, Ed Phillips, Cec Prowse, Mike Rogers, Brian Scroggs, Laurel Smith, Dave Weller, and Bob Wheaton all feature strongly when looking at the history of both the association and the construction industry as a whole. Now that VICA represents the entire Island, many more names come to mind when talking about the success and strength of the construction community; Gerry Bischoff, Chris Erb, Larry Rintala and honorary members of the former Mid-Island Construction Association such as Ted Barsby, Jim Beaman, Gene Beaudry, Robert Bollinger, Louis Dubyna, and Stefan Marinow. Today the Young Construction Leaders’ committee, chaired by Gerrit Vink, demonstrates that the future of the association and the construction industry itself is in very good hands. Members help the community by donating time and materials for community building projects and fundraise several times a year for a wide variety of causes including inner city kids, the Prostate Centre and many others.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


VICA Boardroom, Victoria, B.C.



For the last six years Greg Baynton has led the association, the longest serving president-CEO in recent history. Baynton played a vital strategic leadership role in supporting the Merger Task Team (Chris Erb, Angus Macpherson, Sheldon Saywell, Don Cameron) the MICA and VICA Boards of Directors and the members in considering and executing/implementing the amalgamation, in a one association solution.




Ed Phillips


Dave Weller


Ken Campbell


Cecil Prowse

The future looks bright for the association; as Baynton says when talking about the members spanning the last 100 years, “Their dedication to the craft, their vision and their hard work has created a beautiful and safe world to live in. We’re excited about the future and look forward to the innovations members today will contribute over their lifetimes.”


Al Graham


Brenda Hardy


Blaine Lewis


Greg Baynton

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Board Chairs 1960 - Present Year







Bill Dillabough

Dillabough & Luney


Greg Baynton

Frenette Plastering


George Farmer

Farmer Construction


Bill Campbell

C & W Campbell Homes


George Wheaton

Wheaton Construction


John Knappett

Knappett Construction


Don Smith

Ocean Construction Supplies


John Newton

Homewood Constructors


Mike Griffin

M Griffin Mechanical


Collin Smith

C & R Plumbing


Wayne Farmer

Farmer Construction


Norm Houle

Houle Electric


Alex Rawlings

Rawlings Plumbing and Heating


Chris Chown



Bill Campbell

W. Campbell Construction


Don Logue

Logue & Bridges Stucco


John Chew

Chew Excavating


Scott Jacob

JJM Contracting


Fred Bartlett

Cana Construction


Jay Clark

Starline Windows


Ray Farmer

Associated Sheet Metal


Richard Green

Wescor Contracting


Cec Prowse

Ocean Cement


Barry Scroggs

Farmer Construction


Bob Wheaton

Wheaton Construction


Len Chilibeck

Westburne Electric


Mike Peddlesden

Peddlesden Masonry


John deGoey

Emery Electric


Brian Scroggs

Farmer Construction


Wayne Pye

Pye Construction


Peter Bridge

Bridge Systems


Terry Siklenka

Accutemp Refrigeration


Alan Wright

Ocean Ready Mix


Russ Fanucchi

Namdor Reinforcing


Ken Farey

Campbell Construction


Carole Bissett

Jardine Lloyd Thompson


Mike Rogers

Rogers Mechanical


Ross McLean

Houle Electric


Murray Farmer

Mutal Equipment


Peter White

Kinetic Construction

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Board Chairs - Mid-Island Construction Association


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years





Vic Jones

Ocean Cement


Louis Dubyna

Dubyna Steel


Tom Simpson

A&B Construction


Louis Dubyna

Dubyna Steel


Clive Plumpton

A & B Construction


Ken Inch

Inlaid Floors


Jim Phillips

CanPac Electrical


George Yelle

Butler Lafarge


Bill Whyte

Pro Mac Mfg.


Bob Comer

Enviro West


James Watson

Aurora Roofing Ltd.


Gerry Bischoff

Miranda Construction Ltd.


Jim Beaman

Nanaimo Sheet Metal


Robert Bollinger

Bollinger Installations


Stefan Marinow

SIM Construction


Peter Hughes

Pace-West Mechanical Ltd.


Lawrence White

Lake Construction Ltd.


Duane Fournier

Fournier Excavating Ltd.


Gerry Kermode

LTD Services Ltd.


Paul Blondal

Steels Industrial Products


Duane Fournier

Fournier Excavating Ltd.


Larry Rintala

Harbour City Drywall Ltd.


Chris Erb

C & M Developments

Honorary Members Category

Year Honoured



HLM (Nanaimo)

Louis Dubyna

Dubyna & Sons

HLM (Nanaimo)

Ted Barsby

Barsby & Sons

HLM (Victoria)


John Chew

Chew Excavating

HLM (Victoria)


Mike Rogers

Rogers Mechanical

HLM (Victoria)


Brian Scroggs

Farmer Management

HLM (Nanaimo)


Stefan Marinow

SIM Construction

HLM (Nanaimo)


Bob Bollinger

Bollinger Installations Ltd.

HLM (Nanaimo)


Jim Beaman

Nanaimo Sheet Metal

HLM (Nanaimo)


Gene Beaudry

Beaudry Bros. Glass

HLM (Victoria)


Ken Farey

Campbell Construction

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Honorary Members Ted Barsby (Deceased) - J Barsby and Sons Ted owned and operated J Barsby and Sons, a plastering company he took over from his father when he retired. He had worked on many projects in Nanaimo including a number of schools - John Barsby, Woodlands and Brannen Lake. He was involved in many aspects in the then named Nanaimo Construction Association (NCA), as a director. Ted was well-known in Nanaimo for his lifetime commitment to community service. A war hero, former Nanaimo school trustee and columnist for the Free Press, he also helped found the B.C. Wildlife Federation and was past president of the Nanaimo Fish & Game Club. In 2006, he was awarded the B.C. Community Achievement Award for his participation on civic, education and healthcare boards.

Louis Dubyna (Deceased) - Dubyna & Son Steel Contractors Ltd. Louis served in both the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Navy during WWII. He was also very involved in local youth sports coaching and managing many teams including baseball, soccer, hockey, football and lacrosse. He started Dubyna & Son Steel Contractors Ltd., a reinforcing company, in Nanaimo and was one of the co-founders of the Nanaimo Builders Exchange (NBE). He served as Chairman of the board of directors for two terms 1970-71 and 1974-75.

Jim Beaman (Retired) - Nanaimo Sheet Metal Ltd Jim’s journey in the construction industry began in Alberta in 1960. As a journeyman sheet metal mechanic, he moved to Vancouver Island in 1966 and began working out of Victoria and Nanaimo. While managing a Campbell River roofing company in 1976, he joined the North Vancouver Island Construction Association (NVICA), and began to use their services, in particular the planroom and bidding system. He continued to contribute to NVICA as an active member and social director. In 1979, he opened Nanaimo Sheet Metal Ltd. and joined the Nanaimo Construction Association (NCA). This gave him the opportunity to use the facilities and systems for his business.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

At that time interest rates were high, things were slow in the industry and membership was falling, but the resilience and work ethic of the active members kept the association going. The island associations met four times a year; and with the new technology of the fax machine, bidding work was easier. Slowly, more owners and general contractors began to use the island offices. Jim feels fortunate to have been active in the NCA. Today, 12 years retired, he’s happy to see VICA centered in Nanaimo as a result of the effort and dedication of past directors.

Bob Bollinger, GSC - Bollinger Installations Ltd. Bob’s life in the construction industry started when he was 17, committing to serving a four year carpenter’s apprenticeship with Quinney and Fuller Construction, working mostly on Vancouver Island. Some interesting projects included a school at Ahousat and residences for lighthouse keepers at both Polier Pass and the Ballenas Islands. This was well before the days of portable batch plants; concrete was mixed by hand! After finishing his apprenticeship, he took time off to travel. He joined the RCAF; a posting in Ontario followed but wasn’t his cup of tea. In 1963, he moved back to the Island, and worked for various contractors, mostly as a superintendent. In 1975, Bob and his wife Dorothy established their own general contracting business and shortly thereafter, joined the Nanaimo Construction Association (NCA). Members for 30 Years, at first Bob served as part of the executive board, then as chairman in 1993 and 94. Their business evolved around involvement in many projects, all over the island and B.C.; they were part of the grand openings of both Rutherford Mall and Woodgrove Centre (1980 and 1981). Bob received Gold Seal certification in 1995; in 1999 he was nominated as a lifetime member of NCA, later the Mid Island Construction Association. He sat on both the VICA and BCCA boards and various other organizations.

Gene Beaudry (Retired) - Beaudry Bros. Glass Ltd. After spending five years on Vancouver Island with the Navy, Gene decided to make it his permanent home. He started his construction career in 1963 installing aluminum windows for Westcraft Windows. In 1976, he and his wife Ida started their own company called Beaudry Bros. Glass Ltd. For the next 33 years they worked on projects throughout Vancouver Island. One of Gene’s last projects was the Black Rock Resort in Ucluelet. Gene served on the NCA Board from 1985 to 1995 in a variety of positions. He started his tenure as a director, moving into the treasurer position, and then served as vice chairman in 1991-92. Gene is very proud to see the association in such a strong and vibrant position within the construction community.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Gene retired from the industry in 2010, and spends his time traveling with his wife Ida. They also enjoy spending hours out on their boat, fishing and prawning. They have three daughters Sheila, Brenda and Sandra and six grandchildren.

John Chew (Retired) - Chew Excavating Ltd. John Chew brought the first backhoe to the Island in 1951, when everything was still done by hand. More than 60 years later, the company he founded is still going strong. John proudly displays a room full of paraphernalia, pictures and souvenirs attesting to his long service to the community. He is a past chair of VICA (1976-77), the Vancouver Island Construction Association, as well as a past president of the Island Equipment Owners Association. He has always had a strong belief that strong industry associations benefit the industry and all member companies.

Ken Farey - Campbell Construction Ltd. Ken’s career in the construction industry began in 1953, as an apprentice carpenter, the day after his 16th birthday. After completing his apprenticeship four years later, he was almost immediately placed in charge of a large Luney Bros. and Hamilton Ltd. project as site supervisor. He completed numerous projects with them over the next seven years. In 1964, Bill Campbell’s son, Archie, and Ken formed the general contracting firm, W. Campbell Ltd. When Bill retired in 1976, Ken formed Campbell Construction Ltd. and took on both roles of president and general manager. Over the years, the firm has completed some of the larger and higher profile projects on lower Vancouver Island and the Greater Victoria area. Although Ken is no longer directly involved with day to day operations, he does take part in major decision-making for the company. Ken is a long time Board member of the B.C. Construction Employees Association. Since its inception, he has also been a Board member of the Council of Construction Associations (COCA), now serving as Board Chair. Ken sums up his feelings about the industry as follows: “The construction industry has been good to me over the years. When I started in our industry those many years ago, it was the right decision for me. Although we’ve had challenges over the years, I’ve looked forward to work each and every day, if some days more than others!”


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Stefan Marinow - Casman Developments Stefan was born in Austria and immigrated with his parents to Winnipeg in 1954. He started his career in construction as a labourer with W. Kurtz Masonry and became a journeyman in 1972. He continued working in the masonry trade in Winnipeg and British Columbia, but changed paths when he moved to Edmonton, Alberta to work for a home builder as an estimator/project manager. He eventually made his way back to B.C. and moved to Vancouver Island where he owned and operated Casman Developments, a general contractor in the commercial-industrial sector. Stefan joined NCA in 1989 and became a director his first year of membership. He later became Chairman for one term from 1995-96. Stefan moved back to Winnipeg in 1998, where he works for Red Lake Construction. He is an avid gardener.

Brian Scroggs - GSC Superintendent | GSC Project Management With a young family to support, hard work was familiar to Brian. Construction seemed a natural fit. Work was plentiful in the flourishing Victoria area where he was born and began to craft a highly successful 60 year career, while making significant contributions to his chosen industry.  Brian apprenticed under his uncle George Farmer’s mentoring eye, becoming an accomplished Red Seal Carpenter. He gained valuable experience on projects like the Pt. Ellice Bridge, eventually managing crews on the campus of the rapidly growing University of Victoria. As Superintendent, most memorable were the challenges presented by the construction of the Royal B.C. Museum. Brian fondly recalls bringing sons Barry and Lyle on site to watch the Carillon tower and its very complex staircase take shape. After 25 years in the field, Brian transitioned into the operations side of Farmer Construction and began developing strategies to bring stability to labour relations and contractor security to the unionized sector.  As his industry knowledge grew, Brian pledged many hours chairing various boards including two terms with VICA, the Construction Labour Relations Association of B.C. as well as the influential Industry Training Authority. The Robert Stollery Award for “leadership and excellence” brought Canada-wide industry recognition of his contributions while serving two terms as Chairman, Board of Directors of the CCA. Brian’s “commitment and dedication in support of the industry” also earned him the Robert Saunders Award. In 1997, under Brian’s leadership, Farmer Construction was presented with the Amalgamated Construction Association’s “Coles Hewitt Award of Excellence.” More recently, VICA recognized his years of service and made him a lifetime member, as did CCA and CLRA.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Brian acted as President at Farmer Construction Ltd. for a number of years and remains today a valued consultant to his sons, the current owners. Humbled by the recognition imparted by his peers through the course of his career, he continues to enjoy their company in retirement. 

Mike Rogers - Rogers Mechanical Mike started his career in the trades, at the age of 19, with Rogers Plumbing and Heating in Calgary. (no relation). In 1953, Mike and his wife Margaret moved to Victoria where W.R. Menzies & Co. Ltd. hired him as a Steamfitters helper. Menzies, a long-standing Victoria firm with a great reputation, worked in mechanical contracting. Mike worked there for 15 years, before starting his own business – M. Rogers Mechanical Contractors Ltd. During his years with Menzies, he became very active with his union, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 324; he is a lifetime member. He served on the executive committee, and as Chairman of both the Trade Promotion and Mechanical Relations committees. For the Construction Association of Victoria, he served on the executive committee as well as Chairman of the Board, and was recognized as a lifetime member. For the Mechanical Contractors Association of B.C., he served as President of the Board, and Chairman, Western Canada’s Provincial Committee and then became a Director at the association’s National level. Mike is also a lifetime member of the Mechanical Contractors Association. When Mike retired in 1994, he and Margaret moved to Arbutus Ridge in Cobble Hill. Mike coached baseball for many years – Little League up to Senior Babe Ruth. Mike and Margaret both became avid golfers and although Mike has not played for a couple of years, he has great hopes to get back to it in the future. Mike is thankful for a great life and the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people in the various associations of the construction industry on the Island.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Chapter 4 Building The Construction Industry VICA serves the construction community across Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Its nearly 600 members represent the institutional, commercial, industrial, civil and multi-residential construction sectors. The association’s founding principles are integrity and leadership, and its four pillars are: Advocacy; Professional and Business Development Services; Governance and Operations. The future of the association will be built on service, leadership and representation. VICAs primary role in building the construction industry is to:

Be the unified voice of the construction industry and advocate on its behalf

Build the knowledge, skills and expertise of the construction community

Provide project services and best practice tools

Establish and maintain relationships with other sectors of the construction community

Assist with issue resolution

Provide mentorship

The association encourages members to make use of a broad range of the project services on offer, and plans to increase coverage of opportunities, while also becoming the primary source for best practice tools. It will actively strengthen its relationships within the construction community, at all levels of government and with affiliated organizations and industries. The future of the industry, will be the future of VICAs members, and the association will do all it can to actively and enthusiastically help build the next generation of construction leaders. This chapter outlines some of the many services VICA offers members, and highlights the strength of the affiliations the association has built over the years.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Planroom and BidCentral VICA started life as the Victoria Builders Exchange and today, after 100 years, it continues to track and report project bidding opportunities to its members and provide access to tender documents such as plans and specs in one of its two planrooms on the island, or via the internet. Back in 1912, large format drawings and specifications had to be delivered to the association at the centralized repository and member bidders had to wade through the documents to determine if there was a business opportunity for them. This was extremely time consuming and remained so until the Internet age. BidCentral is the construction association’s preeminent online project opportunity solution. BidCentral is a suite of products and services that provides a centralized online destination for the complete construction bidding process. Rooted in industry standards and expertise, it offers a set of user-friendly, accessible tools to help construction owners, general contractors, trade contractors and other stakeholders save time and money and reduce risk in the bidding process. Launched in 2009, bidders can now submit their bids online via BidCentral and the Internet. Digital plans and specifications save money and time and can be accessed from anywhere, including the job site. Archived projects can be retrieved, providing valuable historical data on past projects. Bid results can be viewed along with awarded tender information. Information can be exported to an MS Excel spreadsheet to make estimating easier and simpler; online tools allow users to annotate plans and save them for viewing later, and also provide powerful and accurate measuring. Members can also access current projects in the more traditional way by visiting one of VICAs two planrooms, where the association continues to play a vital hands-on link for the industry. The planrooms are part of a network of 19 planrooms across B.C., managed in partnership with VICAs three regional partners making up the B.C. Construction Association. This partnership provides province-wide project opportunity reporting and access, to help members sustain and grow their businesses. In many ways, not a lot has changed since the early 1920s, members still receive support and help when bidding on contracts, they still have somewhere to go to access the information they need. However, after several name changes and mergers, VICA is using 21st century technology to help members track information through design development, permitting, bidding and construction phases. This service saves members time, reduces costs, increases accountability, and contributes to environmentally sustainable practices.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


VICA takes its advocacy role seriously and is the unified voice for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands’ construction community. It continues to build and maintain relationships with government and the public sector at the local and regional levels. The association also works with affiliated professional and industry associations to better understand their perspectives, and to share and collaborate as appropriate. The association’s staff and board, recognize the importance of consulting with members and the construction community at large to identify issues that affect, and concern, the industry. Extensive, and all encompassing knowledge of the construction community is of paramount importance and the association is the primary source of information on the industry in the region. In this way it both represents members, and can offer advice on construction issues. VICA is a conduit for information and perspectives on the construction industry, and has developed and will maintain, a healthy relationship with all major media in the areas it serves. Members, and the construction community in general, can rely on VICA to:

Speak and make recommendations on their behalf

Raise issues that affect them

• Provide input on legislative, regulatory and policy requirements at both national and provincial levels

• Provide input on requirements that impact the construction community at the local and regional government levels

VICAs overarching goal in terms of advocacy is to be consulted by all decision-makers on any major issue that could affect the construction community, and for them to seek Vancouver Island’s industry perspective by actively consulting VICA.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Professional Development One of VICAs four pillars is professional and business development - its goal is to build knowledge, skills and expertise in the construction community. To this end the association provides professional development opportunities to members by delivering a wide range of programs and courses, many in partnership with other industry organizations. All programs are of the highest quality and some provide educational credits with other organizations such as the AIBC (Architectural Institute of B.C.).

Justine Simons, Rosie Manhas and Wayne Pye at VICAs offices

The construction industry has evolved through education, and VICA through courses on topics such as tendering, health and safety, debt collection, builder’s rights, estimating, and blueprint reading is helping to build a more sophisticated industry workforce. VICA is planning to introduce a mentorship program that will match members requiring assistance and advice, with experienced members who have been trained as mentors. Association members can also take advantage of advisory services across a broad spectrum of industry issues and challenges and access advice on best practices. All this ensures a transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next, and from specialists across all sectors of the construction industry. VICAs specific educational objectives are to ensure it meets the needs of its members, encourage more members to become involved in professional development, and motivate a greater percentage of members to become certified, and/or qualified in a broader range of relevant skills.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


In Conversation with Richard Brown, Manager, Design and Construction at Vancouver Island Health Authority. Tell me about your relationship with VICA. “By profession, I am an architect; at VIHA I manage all major design projects, except those in the P3 realm. We have an excellent working relationship with VICA. We now run our major projects utilizing the association’s BidCentral and the planroom network. VICAs collaborative approach is hugely important to the construction industry here on the Island, and in all aspects of our business.” How does VICA support and serve you? “VICAs educational offerings are key. Technology is the proverbial freight train coming at the construction industry, especially Building Information Management (B.I.M) software that allows a 3D virtual model of a building to be created prior to construction starting. It’s revolutionizing our industry; VICA has presented a seminar on the subject for us and will continue to provide leadership on the topic. VICA also offers important networking opportunities to members with a few ‘social’ events each year. The face-to-face contact provided is so valuable, there is no substitute for it.” What has the experience been like?  “We appreciate the CEO’s enthusiasm and energy. He’s open to innovative ideas and highlights new approaches to the membership. What would you say is the most valuable thing VICA does for your organization, and the construction community at large?   “VICA was the first B.C. association to implement BidCentral - a tremendous productivity improvement. It set a great example as to the benefit of continually seeking productivity advances.”

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


In Conversation with Rick Gudz, Manager Site Operations, Defence Construction Canada (DCC)

Tell me about your relationship with VICA. DCC is a Crown Corp., our mandate is to support DND and our military forces for their building infrastructure needs land use for example. Our three defining values are Dedication, Competency, Fairness. VICA helps us meet all three. BidCentral has improved fairness in tendering, reduced inaccuracies and in turn raised competency. Rick Gudz (left) with LCol Thornton

How does VICA support and serve you? VICA is our link to the construction industry in Victoria. We are the only office supporting naval infrastructure in the West, so our projects are unique. We have great confidence in BidCentral and use it for selected projects. In some cases the military mandates special requirements, especially in terms of security needs; BidCentral isn’t always a good fit for us in this regard. However, VICA is an overall leader in promoting technology that enables higher productivity. The planroom is also a major asset. Training is offered by VICA on topics that are of interest to us for instance: safety, health, and security. It has helped us educate some smaller companies in the use of technology and how it facilitates access to our work; they have reduced the ‘intimidation factor’ and helped us present ourselves as an organization where real people want to do business in a very positive way. What has the experience been like?  All positive! We work closely with VICA (and with BCCA and with CCA for documents). The CEO and his staff are accommodating and efficient. They work very hard at building solid relationships with people, and with other organizations, in the industry. The industry is in good hands. What would you say is the most valuable thing VICA does for your organization & the construction community at large?   We have a huge roster of upcoming projects, many exceeding $20m; rigorous procurement processes are essential for success. VICA offers easy access to the technology it provides in its office such as: tender openings, a certified clock, and media coverage for large public projects. Late bids, partial bids and other such issues are managed extremely well by VICA, often through BidCentral, with the added bonus of well-trained staff, all of whom contribute to fairness for everyone involved! While lack of drama around procurement is welcome, there’s value to DCC in the good publicity generated by the ‘suspense’ of bid opening/closing in a central location using VICAs well-orchestrated process! VICA offers a couple of outstanding events each year, the golf tournament and Christmas reception are both really valuable. These events bring in new members, which helps everyone in the industry.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

In Conversation with Kim Millburn, Director Facilities, Saanich School District (SD63)

Tell me about your relationship with VICA. “VICA is a valuable resource to us. It has expertise we can access on education and on procurement.” How does VICA support and serve you? “It offers seminars on best practices in the industry; construction management for example. It provides us access to industry documents (from CCA etc.) as required, similar to a software licensing process. The new tendering system it manages, BidCentral, was implemented very smoothly and efficiently. The electronic planroom system is similarly efficient.” What has the experience been like?  “ALL good! VICA is a great resource; supportive and innovative. The members of the VICA team are good listeners, and ask for input on specific topics for seminars. They also participate in other organizations we work with. In addition, the CEO offers his services as a speaker to conferences for our affiliates, which is always appreciated.” What would you say is the most valuable thing VICA does for your organization, and the construction community at large?   Simple, four things: Communication, Education, BidCentral, Planroom.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


In Conversation with Don Gillingham, Dean, Trades & Technology, North Island College Tell me about your relationship with VICA.   North Island College has been a member of VICA for just over a year, so we are just beginning to develop our relationship. There needs to be ongoing, two-way communication between industry and education to ensure apprentices are acquiring the initial skills required in the workplace, and journeypersons are accessing timely and relevant upgrading. Through our VICA membership, we look forward to continuing to support such initiatives and to respond effectively for industry, especially on the Central and North Island. Photo: North Island College

How does VICA support and serve you? We are especially grateful for the scholarships VICA has initiated to encourage new entrants to the construction trades. This acknowledgement and assistance provides a strong and effective indication of support that encourages youth to seek careers in the construction trades. VICA provides an immediate and effective link to the industry. What has the experience been like?  VICAs CEO and staff have all been very welcoming and informative. I immediately recognized VICA as a very well-run and well-focused association, committed to assisting builders on the Island. It’s easy to understand why VICA has existed for 100 years - it is relevant. What would you say is the most valuable thing VICA does for your organization?    VICA provides an effective local link between education and industry. With our campuses across the Central and North Island, we want to explore new ways to link members in our communities with activities originating in Victoria, or Nanaimo.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Affiliations Vancouver Island Construction Association is pleased to work closely with the following organizations for the greater good of the construction industry.

Architectural Institute of B.C. – Vancouver Island Chapter

Council of Construction Associations (COCA)

B.C. Common Ground Alliance

North Island College

B.C. Construction Association – North (BCCA-N)

Regional School Districts

B.C. Construction Association (BCCA)

Southern Interior Construction Association (SICA)

B.C. Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA)

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance

BCCA Employee Benefits Trust (BCCA EBT)

Vancouver Island Secondary Schools

BCCA Skilled Trades Employment Programs (BCCA STEP)

Vancouver Island University (VIU)

Camosun College

Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA)

Canadian Construction Documents Committee (CCDC)

Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce

Construction Industry Training Organization (CITO)

WorkSafe B.C. (WSBC)

Construction Sector Council (CSC)

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Affiliates In Conversation with Manley McLachlan, President, B.C. Construction Association. How does VICA benefit the construction industry in your opinion?  A huge benefit to the industry has been the recent adoption of the BidCentral system. VICAs leadership, through Greg Baynton, in the project was significant. There are cost savings to every company from the efficiencies of the system. The process has offered a template for other technical changes that are underway. The level of volunteerism VICA members offer to our industry organizations is outstanding. The time commitment is significant, but support is strong from employers who support our work.

In Conversation with Grant McMillan, President, Council of Construction Associations. How do VICA members benefit from their association with VICA? The thoughtful research and analysis they do is an efficient way to create a consensus on industry matters for individual contractors. They coordinate actions, provide a lot of education, both hands-on and classroom. Individual contractors couldn’t act on many important issues on their own. The benefit of VICA is huge! In addition to ‘business’ matters, they present networking events each year, a golf tournament and a Christmas reception - always first-class by the way. How has your organization benefited from its membership of VICA? VICA adds its support to COCA when we are discussing complex issues with the provincial government, or WorkSafe B.C. VICA is a strong contributor to the BCCA and COCA; its members contribute as Board members for example.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

In Conversation with Michael Atkinson, President, Canadian Construction Association. How has your organization benefited from its membership of VICA? VICA has provided incredibly talented people to the CCA. Two recent chairs for the Board of Directors, for example Brian Scroggs and Murray Farmer, are leaders whose contributions have been enormous. Their level of volunteerism and their dedication has been amazing and a great example for emerging leaders in the industry. Other CCA Board members originally from VICA have also been great contributors to our organization. It’s much more than luck that VICA is celebrating 100 years of existence. Longevity is an absolute measure of success.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Chapter 5 - Having Fun and Giving Back The construction community in general, and VICA members in particular, work hard and play hard, but they also actively find ways to give back to the communities they help to build. One of the most popular events of the year is the Christmas Party which raises around $10,000 a year for inner city school kids. For several weeks leading up to the party, members fundraise so that grocery store gift certificates can be handed out through island schools to ensure children don’t go hungry over the holidays. “The gift certificates allow these families to buy fruit and vegetables and bread for over the holidays. As importantly, they give these families the ability to choose foods to meet their family’s individual needs.” - Katrin van Leeden, Ruth King Elementary School As Greg Baynton commented last year, “VICA members know all about building houses - this Christmas they’re building healthy kids.” In 2011, VICA held a benefit for the Prostate Centre at Victoria’s historic Union Club prior to holding its 98th Annual General Meeting. The event raised over $10,000. “It’s a really good opportunity for the Prostate Centre and the Vancouver Island Construction Association to partner not only from a fundraising prospective, but also from an awareness prospective as well. We feel quite honored to have an organization like VICA choose us as a charity of choice.” - Leanne Kopp, Executive Director of the Prostate Centre As mentioned on page 74 the Young Construction Leaders also actively support the community; during 2011 they donated approximately $62,000 worth of labour and supplies to the Garth Homer Society. Other events throughout the year include an annual north island golf tournament, a gala dinner and regular networking events.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Community Building Projects

Every year VICA undertakes a community building project that has value to a broad spectrum of the community. These projects offer VICA member companies an opportunity to support the community through service projects, and to invest in their employees’ individual development as the next generation of construction executives. Over the years members have undertaken a wide range of projects. In 2001, they undertook a $50,000 renovation project for the NEED Crisis and Info Line, creating new offices that were wheelchair accessible and also allowed for future expansion of their operation. The following year, washrooms were constructed at the Hartland Mountain Bike Park, valued at approximately $20,000. In 2004-05 members renovated a downtown clinic that dealt with street youth, and young people experiencing high risk health issues like drug use, or prostitution. The $40,000 renovation project for


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

the Victoria Youth Empowerment Society took place during a very busy period in the construction industry, but the volunteers’ commitment never faltered. A completely different community project saw members building a $65,000 wetland viewing platform at Viaduct Flats for the Victoria Natural History Society. In 2010, the Young Construction Leaders Network (YCLN) committee was formed and took over handling the community projects. In 2011, the committee received four applications for community projects and based on the scope of the work, and the impact it would make, chose to work with the Garth Homer Society, a not-for-profit organization that assists adults with developmental disabilities. Seven different companies, worked on eleven projects including building dozens of cupboards, repairing asphalt, installing a kitchen-like area, and repairing cracks in a balcony. The work allowed Garth

Homer’s clients better utilization of, and access to program areas, which was vital to those with mobility issues. The total project would have cost the Society in excess of $60,000, money which instead was put into direct programming for clients. As Gerrit Vink, Chair of YCLN, said at the time, “When we gathered for our first meeting just last December, I couldn’t have imagined that a mere seven months later we would be gathering to celebrate our first community project. I’m so impressed with the way YCL members stepped up to help the Garth Homer Society and can’t wait to start planning our next project!” Looking ahead, the YCLN committee is excited at the prospect of working with the World Fisheries Trust (a non-profit organization) to renovate the Gorge Waterway Nature House, on its Centennial Legacy Project. Over 9,000 people (including 2,700 program participants) have visited

the nature house for community celebrations, educational programs and environmental conversation. However, the house requires substantial renovations, including enlarging the learning facilities. As this is VICAs centennial year the industry’s young construction leaders are going all out to make this project one to remember with a budget in materials and labour of up to $100,000. YCL Mandate: to develop an informal communication network among young (under 40) future executives in order to promote network relationships within the construction industry; develop a forum to establish industry contacts and leads; provide information and industry activities and opportunities that will enhance and profit the individual and their respective companies; provide an opportunity for members to invest in their employees’ development as the next generation of construction executives.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


VICA Scholarships Secondary School Awards

Post Secondary School Awards

The VICA Apprentice Scholarship

VICA Construction Trades Training Scholarship

VICA is proud to offer six scholarships to the top level one construction apprentices on Vancouver Island, who have completed a training program through the South, Central and North Island Secondary School Partnerships. Working with these partnerships, VICA awards the following six scholarships to the highest achieving student in each of the six construction trades.

These post secondary school awards are given to students recommended by the Deans of the Schools of Trades and Technology at the partnership’s educational institutions. Winners will have successfully completed more than one level of apprenticeship technical training, including the 1st, 2nd or 3rd year of a 4-year apprenticeship at high standard. Students are judged on a combination of final grade, attitude and work ethic.

VICA Carpentry Apprenticeship Tuition Scholarship Award - $500

Camosun College Student – $500

VICA Electrical Apprenticeship Tuition Scholarship Award - $500

North Island College Student – $500

VICA Joinery/Cabinet Making Apprenticeship Tuition Scholarship Award - $500

Vancouver Island University Student - $500

VICA Plumbing Apprenticeship Tuition Scholarship Award - $500

Vancouver Island Post Secondary Student VICA Scholarship Award – $500

VICA Sheet Metal Apprenticeship Tuition Scholarship Award - $500 VICA Welding Level C Training Tuition Scholarship Award - $500 The VICA Super Star Apprentice Scholarship This special award is made to a construction apprentice that has completed any level of technical training on Vancouver Island, who has had to overcome obstacles and adversity to successfully complete technical training. VICA Super Star Apprentice Scholarship award - $500


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years



Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Chapter 6 - Looking Forward

In 2011-12, Vancouver Island construction associations amalgamated to better serve the construction community. As the ‘new’ VICA, we are excited about the challenges and opportunities ahead, and look forward to serving the construction community for the next 100 years. In thinking of the future, we see the association facing similar challenges to our members: demographic changes; economic cycles and events; technological changes; changes in government policy; and succession and sustainability issues. At the same time we are looking forward to: serving the entire construction community; building on regional and local strengths; enhancing our members’ and VICAs reputations and profiles; playing a key role at the provincial level, and through that the national level; broadening and strengthening relationships in the community; and building the next generation of construction leaders. The association’s immediate goals and objectives are to: increase membership breadth and depth; retain members and grow membership; ensure VICAs long-term financial health and invest in the future; develop a succession plan; identify opportunities to increase skills and abilities of the Board and staff; increase Board and staff satisfaction; maximize the use of our present technology; adopt new technologies where they are cost-beneficial; and practise sound governance. With the ongoing support of our membership, the direction of members of the board, and the loyalty of our staff, we are confident that VICAs future is in excellent hands.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Technology and Innovation

“The construction industry is under pressure to improve cost efficiency and sustainability and is innovating at a pace not seen since the industrial revolution, but there are opportunities to do more.” This was the key message of a recent meeting held by The Royal Academy of Engineering on Innovation in Construction at the University of Cambridge, England. This quote can either be seen as a warning, or as an opportunity. VICA members have enthusiastically embraced new technology and VICA will continue to work with industry leaders and academia to ensure the Island remains at the forefront of new construction techniques. The following areas are seen as being key to the future of the industry:

• Building closer relationship between the industry and academia, and purchasers of construction services and their consultants. The goal being to promote innovation, and thereby reduce building costs through the sharing of innovative ideas and research.

• Offsite, modular construction in house building (some industry leaders in Europe are predicting 90 per cent of construction will be completed offsite in the future).

• Robotic technology - bricklaying machines, and other robotic construction equipment already exists, and is being used by Japanese, Korean and European civil contractors. As barriers to trade services reduce, and these countries target Canada, the use of robotics may well become increasingly common in large civil and ICI projects.

• New materials such as self-compacting concrete and hot-in-place asphalt (HIPAR).

• Sensor technologies (including wireless sensor networks) such as building envelope monitors and early warning systems that can monitor infrastructure during and after construction.

• ‘Virtual’ construction - Building Information Modeling (B.I.M.) software will revolutionize the building sites of tomorrow. The construction industry is learning from the aeronautical and automotive industries how to use 3D imaging of new buildings, prior to launching on-site work. Seeing the entire ‘virtual’ building eliminates the far-too-frequent ‘repeat’ work, so common to the industry in the past.   

New technology will help the industry optimize efficiency, lower costs and carbon footprint, alleviate some of the upcoming skilled workforce shortages, while at the same time increasing service quality.


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


The commercial building sector in Canada spends $17.6 billion annually, while generating 65.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately 35 per cent of all greenhouse gases are generated by buildings; a further 35 per cent originates from demolition and construction activities. The construction community is increasingly under pressure to use green building methods from all levels of government, and especially from commercial clients responding to a general public becoming more and more concerned about environmental sustainability. Local municipalities are becoming increasingly active in driving green building standards. Victoria can be proud to be home to the first project in Canada certified with LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council: the University of Victoria’s Vancouver Island Technology Park.  Vancouver now has 176 LEED certified projects; its Greenest City Plan regulates redevelopment permits for buildings over 500 square feet must be built to LEED Gold Standard. Since introducing this policy in January, 2011, the city has seen a 46 per cent increase in the number of LEED buildings under construction. The construction community faces several challenges in dealing with this relatively new trend. Many clients hesitate to spend money on being “greener” and this uncertainty makes for challenging times. Although there is confusion over the general idea of green construction, many people identify energy efficiency as epitomizing green building; both in the structural design and sealing of buildings, and the efficiency of the internal systems: heating, cooling, lighting, appliances. These are the areas easiest for the public and clients to understand. Water reduction, although not strictly speaking energy efficiency, is often included in this category. Companies in the construction community who embrace green building standards, will undoubtedly have an advantage in tomorrow’s marketplace and should look to solid marketing of their green credentials. Note: customers are becoming increasingly alert to “greenwashing” where companies market themselves as green, but are not actually building green.

Dockside Green. Photo: Busby, Perkins + Will

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


The Workforce

A vibrant apprenticeship system is essential for growth in the construction sector. Today, there are double the number of apprentices registered compared to when the Industry Training Authority was created in 2004. Over the next decade, 18,000 job openings are projected for the sector. That’s what makes the apprenticeships program so important – a key to guaranteeing there are skilled, prepared workers to meet the industry’s demands.

- The Honourable Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Government of B.C.

The construction industry is facing an unprecedented skilled workforce shortage, due to the numbers of “baby boomers” heading toward retirement. Make no mistake, this challenge is imminent; in fact Vancouver Island will likely feel the impact within six to twelve months. Some people say it is already here, and certainly Northern B.C. is currently starting to feel the effects. The baby-boomer issue has been raised so many times recently, people are becoming desensitized to it. In Canada, the first boomer turned 65 this year - so we are just getting started with this demographic group, yet we are already feeling the impact. 


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Another issue, caused by the same aging demographic is the looming retirement of large numbers of construction company owners, not all of whom have a succession plan in place. We are currently in economic recovery and will soon enter a period of sustained economic growth. We are already seeing healthy investment in construction projects from both private and public sectors, so demand for skilled workers will grow at a fast pace. More challenging than the effect on labour of a growing economy, will be the pressure from a rapidly aging workforce. The result could be a perfect storm, with the effect being felt across all sectors of the construction industry. One factor which could ameliorate this scenario, is how badly the downturn in financial markets has impacted retirement plans over the last several years. Companies may well look to hiring older tradespeople, if the labour shortage pans out as expected. Canada will need an estimated 319,000 new construction workers from 2012 to 2020 to keep pace with increased demand and to compensate for the rising number of expected retirements, according to the Construction Sector Council (CSC). The Conference Board of Canada predicts, across all industries, a skilled labour shortage of approximately 160,000 by 2015. This equates to some 40,000 in the construction industry over the next seven to nine years. On Vancouver Island, our labour demands translate to around 20 per cent of total demand for British Columbia. Some say the number of new entrants to the trades is overstated and that high schools and colleges will not be able to produce enough apprentices

to meet the need. B.C. labour will be dependent not only on new entrants to the trades but also on immigrants. B.C. employers will be competing with those in other provinces for these people. It is not only tradespeople who will be in short supply, but estimators, project managers, and those in mid-level management. Apprenticeship programs offer a progressive way to help solve the skill shortages the construction industry will face, and encourage the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next. There are more than 100 apprentice trade programs and over 40 Red Seal trades in British Columbia.  Three of the top five training programs across all industries, by number of participants, are electricians, carpenters and plumbers, and the occupation predicted to be second most in demand by 2020 (right behind chefs and cooks) is carpenters and cabinetmakers. Surprisingly, in Canada, only 18 per cent of employers in the skilled trades employ apprentices. The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum says there is a strong business case for employers to set up apprenticeship programs. The organization’s research into the return on investment for every dollar invested in an apprentice, is $1.47. Another tangible benefit is the opportunity for a company to develop an up-to-date workforce, with the specific skills they require. Just as vital is the fact that having an apprenticeship program is an important part of succession planning for companies, as increasing numbers of skilled trades employees reach retirement age. As mentioned earlier, construction companies on Vancouver Island will, in the very near future, be dependent on both new entrants to the industry and foreign skilled workers to offset the impending labour shortage. The

Skilled Trades Employment Program (STEP), originally launched by the British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) in 2006, assists foreign trained skilled workers to obtain employment in the construction industry where there is a lack of available workers. BCCA operates numerous programs to deal with the pending labour shortage and business succession issues; STEP is only one. To help employers, STEP works with under-utilized and under-represented labour pools to support those interested in pursuing a career in the trades (every year, the STEP program helps almost 1000 individuals in these categories). As a unique, demand-side employment program, STEP works with every level of the apprentice to Red Seal trade system. Coming from an employerbased association, its Trades Employment Specialists (TESs) understand what it takes to craft rewarding careers in the trades, and deploy their knowledge to assess, encourage, and support the right individuals to pursue careers in the Skilled Trades sector. A support-based program, rather than service-based, STEP uses the “Connector Model” to get results. The “Connector Model” utilizes the connection between TES, the participant, and all relevant supports a client may need to choose, enter, and succeed in the trades. STEP interacts with all levels of the apprenticeship system, as well as credential and certificate recognition for the journeyperson. VICA members obtain great benefit from BCCA’s expertise with programs such as STEP.  Sources: Construction Sector Council (CSC); Statistics Canada; British Columbia Construction Association; The Skilled Trades Employment Program (STEP); The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Humboldt Valley, Victoria, B.C.

Chapter 7 - Champions

This centennial book, recording as it does the building of Vancouver Island over the last 100 years, would not have been possible without the support of a great number of VICA members. It is a privilege to have so many committed individuals and companies willing to support our commemorative book. The association especially recognizes the valuable corporate support of the member companies whose profiles we are pleased to feature in this chapter.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Centennial Champion Jardine Lloyd Thompson Canada Inc. The story of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Canada Inc. (JLT) begins in Vancouver in the early 1900’s. JLT became an integral part of the Construction industry in 1917, when we provided the first Construction Bond ever issued in the province of British Columbia. Since then, we have grown and expanded across the country, operating in all Provinces and Territories with offices in Vancouver, Victoria, Surrey, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montréal. We are part of the Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group of Companies, an international group of Risk Specialists and Employee Benefits Consultants and one of the largest insurance broking groups in the world. JLT operates in specialized sectors with teams of professionals in the Construction, Natural Resources, Public Sector, Corporate, Employee Benefits, Insurance for Professionals, and Sport, Hospitality & Leisure sectors. Operating in specialty divisions – and with access to a world-wide network of professionals – allows us to provide the expertise to meet our clients needs. We have been providing Construction Insurance and Surety Bonds for Vancouver Island Contractors for over 50 years. To maintain our priority of local support, the JLT Victoria office was established in 1971. Our Construction group offers expertise in Construction Insurance and Surety Bonds for General Contractors, Subcontractors, Owners and Developers. We provide operational coverage and specific project insurance, including Course of Construction, Wrap-up Liability,


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Pollution and Delayed Start-up. We have maintained strong, long-term relationships with all major Surety Companies in Canada, issuing surety bonds in B.C. for over 100 years.   For over 15 years, the JLT Victoria office has been heavily involved with the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA). Our Construction experts have sat on the Association Board and Executive, participated in numerous Special Committees and provided educational seminars to members on Insurance and Bonding. Carole Bissett, Managing Director and JLT’s National Construction Specialty Leader, is a past Chair of the Association and was part of the initial team that worked toward amalgamation of the three Island Associations. Belonging to and being active in VICA is important to us as it provides a greater insight into issues affecting our clients and allows us to work more closely with the Association, to identify onerous contract language and ensure fair tendering practices for Contractors. We look forward to continuing to provide service and solutions to our clients for many years to come whether it is through our expertise as leading Construction Insurance Brokers or our close involvement with VICA. Congratulations to the Vancouver Island Construction Association on their 100 year anniversary. It is an amazing milestone and gives us all a chance to reflect on the significant impact you’ve made in improving the lives of your members.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Congratulations to the Vancouver Island Construction Association on 100 Years of Helping to Build Excellence in our Community. Houle Electric is proud to be a member of your organization and is happy to celebrate your success!


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Book Champion - Houle Electric Top row from left: Company founder, Lionel Houle, Vancouver Island Visitors Centre - main entrance, 2nd row from left: (first two photos from left) Victoria General Hospital (VRCA Gold Award) - main entrance and lobby, Vancouver Island Visitors Centre - main lobby, 3rd from left: B.C. Hydro Operations Facility, Port Alberni (VRCA Gold Award) - main entrance, 4000 Seymour Place - UPS room, 4th row from left: Royal Jubilee Hospital (VRCA Award of Merit), Dockside Green Residential Buildings (last two on right) - building outside and close-up of DDC (Direct Digital Controls) panel, 5th row from left: Millstream Village Shopping Centre, Nanaimo Regional Hospital & Perinatal Centre (VRCA Gold Award)

A Proud Tradition of Building Excellence The story of Houle Electric began when Grandpa Joe moved to Port Alberni with his children. One of his children, Lionel Houle, was particularly enterprising and started a small, successful electrical company. The year was 1944 when Lionel built the business with the help of his brothers and brothers-in-law, and so family values were instilled early on. Even in its initial stages, Houle Electric started to build a reputation as a very reliable contractor. Now around this time one of the challenges that arose was a shortage of copper, but Lionel did not let this obstacle stand in his way. He became part of the earliest chapter of ECA to protect the electrical contractors on the Island. For Houle, the 1950’s were an exciting time of expansion and unprecedented growth through the move to Kitimat which coincided with the construction of a large aluminum smelter. The 50’s were a time of great progress, but they were also a time when many contractors, including Houle, faced low cash flow and collections, which were essential for supporting their businesses. Lionel pressed on with company expansion on his mind, traveling to the North West Territories in the days of radar installation, searching for new opportunities. He also moved job trailers and buses down to Burnaby, and operated the business out of buses and basements while it grew in the Lower Mainland.

From then on, Lionel hardly looked back. Houle Electric had gone from a Houle family dream to a hugely successful reality. Today, Houle is the largest electrical contractor on the Island, with branches in Nanaimo and Victoria. Houle continues to be a strong supporter of the construction industry through VICA and ECA. Giving back to the industry ensures Lionel’s values from the early Port Alberni days continue. Lionel was an early member of the Construction Association and helped to deal with peddling practices in the industry. Houle continues to serve on boards, task forces and committees with the firm belief that in giving back to the industry, both Houle and the industry benefit directly. Houle Electric has now grown to provide its electrical contracting services for projects in every sector of the Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional construction markets. But that doesn’t mean their roots have been forgotten. The Houle family culture remains strong from its Port Alberni base as they have developed a leadership position within the industry as a brand that represents quality, reliability and strong ethical values. Learn more on the web at: or call our Victoria office at (250) 544-0099

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Book Champion - Farmer Construction Ltd.

George Farmer incorporated his construction company in 1951. As the company worked hard to gain a foothold in the industry, he valued his business relationship with Victoria’s emergent Construction Association. So much so, ten years later, he became its President! During a four year tenure, he led the board of the association in maintaining and managing policies that would earn the respect of new and existing members alike. As the cityscape evolved, Farmer Construction Ltd. became a fixture at the ground breaking of many Victoria landmarks. The Construction Association remained a valuable ally, providing support services and


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

networking opportunities in a professional and welcoming extension to our own Construction Management and General Contracting teams. Farmer Construction Ltd. is a company well-established, dependable and progressive. We want to acknowledge the Vancouver Island Construction Association as an integral part of our team. Ours is a storied, productive and prosperous history, proud of our ties to VICA. The association’s longevity speaks to the commonalities we share, dedication and commitment to craft, with an appreciation of a job well done.

As ownership of our privately owned, family operated business changed hands, each of Wayne Farmer, Murray Farmer, Brian Scroggs and our current President, Barry Scroggs, has taken their turn to contribute time and knowledge to serve as Chairman of the Board of VICA. Farmer Construction Ltd. recognises the importance of our continued relationship with the association and their commitment to building and maintaining the very personal relationships necessary to realize success. We appreciate all that VICA has afforded us. We recognize their important contributions to our industry and wish them continued success, as the next chapter in our mutually eventful futures are built.

We are a company of people and relationships, of dedicated employees and their families, and of relationships with our clients, subcontractors and suppliers building community for over 60 years. Find us on the web at

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Photo: Linden Loughridge

Book Champion Kinetic Construction 92

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Together, building better. By building together, Kinetic believes it builds better. This concept is woven through everything Kinetic does. No project can be completed by a single person, a single company; only by working together, do we get the best outcome. With highly qualified

employees in our offices in Victoria, Courtenay and Vancouver, Kinetic works together to address any challenge. Kinetic has worked hard over the past 28 years to build a company culture where employees are empowered, clients are valued and subcontractors are respected. Since its founding in 1984, Bill Gyles has led Kinetic to become what it is today: a company focused on building relationships. “We have superintendents and foremen, like Corey, Ron and Bob who have been with us for 20 years and longer. This is not an accident. They’ve chosen to stay with Kinetic.” Dedicated employees are Kinetic’s foundation. A great example of this is told through the crew working at the Victoria Airport in 1986; Kinetic was working on a new air traffic control tower. The crew on site included Chris Chalecki, superintendent and Mark Liudzius, carpenter. This same crew is still at Kinetic, even though Chris and Mark have traded in their toolbelts for an office. (Victoria Branch Manager and Contracts Manager, respectively).

Kinetic would not be where we are today without the skills of our subcontractors. The Kinetic sign may be front and centre on hoarding, but there is a team behind it, making it possible to achieve great results. “We make every attempt to look after the best interests of local trades and those of the client; we go ‘above and beyond’ during the tendering stage to resolve potential design issues,” says Pete White, Chief Estimator. Through our professionalism, dedication, humour, and attention to detail, Kinetic builds projects by working together to share each one of these qualities with all involved. In the process we exceed our clients’ expectations. From our long term relationships with employees, clients, consultants and subcontractors, Kinetic is dedicated to achieving longterm success, together.

Around this same time, Kinetic needed to hire an accountant. Pauline came into the Alpha Terrace office for an interview; she’s worked in the accounting department ever since. Kinetic is made better by its employees. When you spend 40 hours a week at work (and in construction it’s usually more), you’d better like what you do and who you do it with. “Employees are given guidance, trust, opportunity, and the connections they need to succeed,” says Tom Plumb, Courtenay Branch Manager.

Photo: Dirk Heydemann

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


List of Champions and Contributors Champions and Contributors We would like to thank the following companies for making this centennial publication possible.

Champions •

Jardine Lloyd Thompson Canada Inc. (JLT) - - 250.413.2719

Houle Electric Limited - - 250.544.0099

Farmer Construction Ltd. - - 250.388.5121

Kinetic Construction Ltd. - - 250.381.6331



Aral Construction - - 250.384.1425

Connect Hearing - - 250.413.2100

Starline Windows - - 250.475.1441

Playsted Sheet Metal - - 250.382.2164

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Michael Wicks, of Blue Beetle Books, and the VICA management team would like to thank the following people for all their help and support with this book. Without their commitment, dedication and good memories, we would never have been able to produce this testament to the construction community of Vancouver Island. Our thanks go to the VICA Centennial Committee for their commitment to the year-long celebration and especially to the book committee for their brainstorming on the themes and content of this book. Special thank-you’s to Lesley Patten for tirelessly tracking down photographs and permissions, and acting as the liaison between the publisher and VICA; to Marilyn Harris for her amazing interview skills and assistance with editing and writing; to Brenda Hardy and Wayne Pye for their eagle-eyed editing and proofing; and to Tom Spetter for his exceptional design talent. Many other individuals were instrumental in making this book a success; our apologies if we have missed anyone, but our heartfelt thanks go out to everyone involved, including: Michael Atkinson; Sarah Bartfai; Greg Baynton; Jim Beaman; Gene Beaudry; the Honourable Pat Bell; Carole Bissett; Bob Bollinger; Sharon Boyce; Diana Brooks; Richard Brown; Dawn Charity; Nicole Charity; Bruce Dyck; Ken Farey; Don Gillingham; Rick Gudz; Jason Guldin; Brenda Hardy; Sybil Harrison; Mike Herold; Nancy Hughes; Bill Johnson; Sarah Leslie, Scott MacNeill; Rosie Manhas; Deborah Marshall; Manley McLachlan; Ross Mclean; Grant McMillan; Kim Millburn; Lesley Patten; John Pettigrew; Ed Phillips; The Honourable Steven L. Point; Wayne Pye; Brian Scroggs; Barry Scroggs; Martin Segger; Laurel Smith; Dennis Truss; Gerrit Vink; Andrew Waveryn; Dave Wellar; Bob Wheaton; Peter White; Terry Willliams; Lara Wilson; Wendie Yaremus. We would also like to extend our thanks to the following companies and organizations who supplied information, or photographs, for this book. BC Ferries; BCCA (BC Construction Association); Camosun College; Canadian Construction Association (CCA); Chew Excavating; Council of Construction Associations (COCA); Crystal Garden; DCC (Defence Construction Canada); Farmer Construction; Herold Engineering; Jawl Properties; KMP Architecture; Nanaimo Community Archives; North Island College; RJC; Saanich Archives; SD 63; Stantec; University of Victoria Archives; UVic Photo Services; Vancouver Island Convention Centre; Victoria Heritage Foundation; Vancouver island Health Authority (VIHA); Woodgrove Centre.

Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years


Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years

Vancouver Island Construction Association: Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years  
Vancouver Island Construction Association: Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years  

The Blue Beetle Books team was proud to work with Vancouver Island Construction Association on this beautiful book, which they used to promo...