city ahead on a road at night

Civil Engineering & Infrastructure

modern concrete structure


design build drawing with construction tools

Design Build | CM | GC

multiple excavators parked in a row


green tree outside office building

Green Building

thumbs up

Positive News

toolbelt construction tools

Specialty Contracting


We Need To Be The Champions Of Our Own Industry

View in E-mag
View Brochure

The British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) is a provincial association, serving the industrial, commercial, institutional, and multi-unit residential sectors in British Columbia (BC). The association has four regional partners across the province (North, Southern Interior, Vancouver Island, and Vancouver/Lower Mainland), delivering value to its members, who, through an integrated model, are also members of BCCA.

Chris Atchison, President of BCCA explains that the association works “very closely with that network of regional associations in BC to represent the priorities of the membership and the construction industry.” According to Atchison, the relationship is beneficial for all stakeholders. “Through the partnership, the aim is to make it a better place for contractors to do work for owners, both public and private, to succeed in their infrastructure and development projects and also to be a steward for the taxpayer dollars that are being invested into public infrastructure.”

BCCA’s strategic plan is built on three pillars – building the workforce, supporting construction delivery, and reinforcing communities. These core tenets drive BCCA in all the legislative and advocacy work that it does.

Currently at the top of the list of priorities for the association is working with stakeholder groups and the provincial government to bring forward prompt payment legislation. For Atchison, this move would be of huge benefit to the industry. “This would provide certainty for work that has been completed on projects in BC.” The legislation exists in other parts of Canada, and BCCA is hopeful that it will soon be brought into BC.
Atchison explains, “what we’ve been saying to the province is that our construction community, both the contractors that are building and delivering on services and the owners who are tendering those projects could all benefit from having not just fair, open and transparent procurement processes, but certainty around payment on jobs and work that has been completed.”

Continuing, he says: “we really believe this is a fundamental issue of fairness that can be delivered quite easily to the construction community.” The association has been working hard to make this a reality for workers in the construction industry in BC, with Atchison explaining that the association wants to ensure there is the political will to bring this legislation forward and make sure people in the industry are “being treated fairly on the projects that they’re working so hard on.” He anticipates a “positive momentum” on the prompt payment front in 2023.

Another important aspect of the association’s work is centered around workforce development. Workplace shortages have impacted industries around the world and the construction industry in BC is no different, experiencing both skilled worker shortages and worker shortages in general. In order to address this, the association is partnering with other stakeholders and the provincial government to “try to deliver on things that are going to attract and retain more people to our industry.” For Atchison, this will allow for potential workers to “take advantage of the high opportunity occupations that exist here in BC in the construction industry.”

On this note, BCCA has started many initiatives to focus on attracting and retaining a skilled workforce. One of these is the Construction and Skilled Trades Month in April, with 2023 being the sixth time it has taken place. The aim is to “bring a positive awareness to the opportunities that exist within the construction industry from a workforce perspective and also just to shine a positive light on the projects and the legacies that are being built every day.”

The initiative came about as the members of the association thought that it should proudly share the successes of the industry on a wider scale. “We thought, let’s go and create a month-long campaign of awareness about our industry and how much it gives to every community that we work in across the province.” Focusing on topics such as safety, leadership, and apprenticeship, the month also spotlights the different programs and services that BCCA offers. “BCCA is very proud to be able to have initiated that but also continue to perpetuate it. We need to be the champions of our own industry.”

“BCCA’s strategic plan is built on three pillars – building the workforce, supporting construction delivery, and reinforcing communities.”

Another initiative the association amplified over the pandemic was The Lunchbox Challenge – encouraging construction job sites that were still working to patronize a local establishment during construction month, buy lunch for the crew from one of the local restaurants offering takeout service and then challenge another job site to do the same in their locality. This not only gave back to the workers but also gave business to the restaurant and hospitality sector that suffered due to closures during the pandemic.

Roughly 95 per cent of the construction industry is male, with Atchison explaining that over time there have been some “natural barriers in place that are preventing diversity from flourishing on job sites.” Through research, the association found that there is a lot of attention paid towards attracting people into the workforce, such as good pay, opportunities for mobility and growth – but not as much on retention. He explains “so many people coming into the industry were deciding to leave after a short-term involvement.” The association started to look at flipping the question, with Atchison explaining, “it’s not just about attracting people, it’s about what do we need to do to keep people in the industry.” What BCCA found was that a change in culture on worksites in large part was the way to go. He said, “some of the cultures were fantastic – they had great policies in place, they had good leadership and mentorship programs.” However, overall, the industry is made up of small to medium-sized employers “without a large number of them having any human resources department.”

BCCA team at the Builders Code awards

BCCA determined that these companies may need some help in changing this and developed a suite of tools with the Builder’s Code that “put a lens on safety and productivity of worksites.” In the industry, Atchison explains that there is both a “universal respect for safety” and a “drive for productivity.” When the Builders Code is considered, with a message of safe worksites being considerate to every person on it, the conversation developed further. This started discussions about respect on worksites “and embracing the principles of diversity and equity and inclusion without naming it and really bringing in the emphasis on safety and the importance of third-party safety in conversations and a zero tolerance for bullying, hazing and harassment.”

This is just a small selection of the work that BCCA has done and is doing for the construction industry in BC, with more information to be found on the association’s website including its mentorship program Building Builders the Integrating Newcomer Program and the Employees Benefit Trust.

Atchison states that the outlook for the industry going into 2023 is “very busy,” despite the issues surrounding prompt payment, workforce shortages and supply chain issues – all of which remain of paramount importance to BCCA and most of the members. He explains that “we’ve done an economic analysis in recent months, and it doesn’t paint that rosy a picture for the construction industry.”

Anticipating a slowdown at some point in 2023, Atchison is encouraging all contractors to be “hypervigilant” about what level of risk they accept on projects. He says the association is “trying to remind owners and contractors and sub-contractors to continue having open and realistic dialogues in the face of rising costs such as inflation, interest rates, supply chain disruptions and workforce shortages. All of these things are still present and they’re putting pressure on the industry both for projects coming and those underway.”

More Stories

A Foundation of Value-Driven Action

ABC Delaware — By Christopher Carter

As any professional knows, a successful project is greater than the sum of its parts. This is nowhere truer than in the construction industry, (…)

Facilitating, Educating and Communicating

Florida Prestressed Concrete Association — By Luke Sheehan

In an industry doing its level best to reduce its carbon emissions, alongside omnipresent labor shortages and an aging infrastructure that requires upgrading, it (…)

The Right Way for the Highway

Long Island Contractors' Association — By Eric O'Callaghan

While the infrastructure network across North America needs modernization, it is not advancing quickly enough in many cases. While energy sources and underground cable (…)

A Rising Tide for the Precast Industry

PCI Mountain States — By Christopher Carter

In the world of construction, there are probably as many different ways to put up a building as there are buildings themselves. But creating (…)

Where Prosperity leads to Progression

BTEA — By Eric O'Callaghan

New York has become a progressive state, striving to represent the interests of every person within its vicinity. Leaders on the city council are (…)

By Members, For Members

ABC Empire State — By Emma Kilcawley Hemani

ABC Empire State is the New York branch of Associated Builders and Contractors – a construction trade association representing contractors across the United States. (…)

Supporting the Precast Industry Through Education

PCI Mid-Atlantic — By David O'Neill

While the debate rages on regarding the viability and sustainable use of concrete, it is undoubtedly a challenging landscape for those within the sector. (…)

abc florida apprenticeship program

Keep on Climbing

ABC Florida East Coast Chapter — By Eric O'Callaghan

When starting at the bottom of the career ladder, the only way to move is up. It may not seem like it, but this (…)

Bridging Academia and the Precast Concrete Industry

PCI Gulf South — By Manuela Armini

There is often a disconnect between the skills students learn in college and those they need as they enter the workforce. Architects, designers, and (…)