Close to $6 billion in major construction projects underway in British Columbia

Condos, tourism trump resource-, energy-sector construction

Donald Trump, daughter Ivanka and son Donald Jr. at the site of the new $360 million Trump International Hotel & Tower in downtown Vancouver | Photo: Edelman

Condominiums and tourist accommodation currently dominate B.C.’s construction activity, according to a recent Association of Consulting Engineering Companies British Columbia profile of major construction projects.

In fact, building homes and hotels beat out liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects by a spending factor of four when projects under construction are tallied.

The top 20 construction projects now underway in B.C. total $5.6 billion, and more than half of that – $2.94 billion – has a residential or hotel component.

But the executive director of BC Building Trades is not worried about a perception that lightweight construction trumps big resource or energy projects.

“All construction is cyclical,” said Tom Sigurdson.

The biggest construction project in the province is Concord Pacific’s $1 billion central condominium development on the north shore of Vancouver’s False Creek. The mixed-use project includes 1,300 homes in eight towers, an expanded casino, 90,000 square feet of community amenities and retail space.

Tied as B.C.’s largest project is the $1 billion behemoth known as the Tsawwassen First Nation mixed-use development, which will include 1,600 homes in South Delta.

With its $360 million project underway, the Trump International Hotel & Tower on West Georgia Street in Vancouver is the sixth-biggest active construction site in B.C. The project includes 147 hotel rooms and 218 luxury condominiums, a spa and restaurants. The Holborn Group of Vancouver is the developer; New York-based Trump Entertainment Resorts is providing branding and design input and will manage the hotel.

As a comparison, the largest resource project underway in B.C. is the $400 million Tilbury LNG facility expansion in Delta, where a new storage tank is being added.

In the Okanagan, the $200 million, 600-home Skaha Hills residential development near Osoyoos and the $100 million expansion of the Manteo Resort in Kelowna are ranked in the top 20 construction projects currently underway.

Also on the list are 3 Civic Plaza in Surrey, where 353 condominiums and 144 hotel rooms are being built; and Richmond’s River Park Place project, which will include 500 condos next to the Richmond Oval community centre.

Sigurdson noted that members of the BC and Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades Council are confident that financial investment decisions on “billions of dollars’ worth” of major resource projects will soon put condo construction in the shade.

He added that “it’s fortunate” BC Hydro’s $8.8 billion Site C dam project or a large LNG plant is not being built now.

“We wouldn’t have the skilled labour available to handle it all.”

Still, Sigurdson added that “we’re keenly looking toward the first FID [final investment decision] on an LNG facility.”