First, we should all be very happy that Seaspan won the lucrative $8 billion contract for non-combat ship building.
The magnitude of this investment dwarfs other recent major projects in B.C. including, the Port Mann Bridge, investment for the Olympics, BC Place and so on.
In order to increase the efficacy of the shipbuilding project we need to ensure that we have adequate transportation systems to accommodate the labour supply, and goods and service required for completing the project on time and on budget.
We have an opportunity to not only make this shipbuilding project more effective, but more sustainable for subsequent projects afterwards.
The chairman of Dofasco addressed a group of Grade 13 students, of which I was one, at Dofasco’s steel mill about 30 years ago at a management ground level training program.
He indicated as per a European model, a lower operating and transportation cost for individuals is good business for Dofasco.
This is why Dofasco encouraged higher density in Hamilton, Ont. “It prevents transportation headaches, creates punctuality and makes their pay go farther.”
Labour accessibility is good for manufacturing, but is also good for all segments of the economy.
Density and cost-effective transit is not a panacea, but it helps make workers pay go further in the face of cheaper production costs globally.
In transportation planning there is the concept of origin-destination. In the ship building case we know the destination. Therefore we need to ensure we free up road capacity for the necessary delivery of goods and services, use rail for commercial needs if appropriate, we need to encourage the use of the E&N and LRT for people movement (labour supply), we need to encourage greater residential urban density in proximity of the shipyards so that workers can walk to work.
We have a few years to plan for this shipbuilding activity, so there is no excuse for traffic headaches.