Getting to the Starting Line
The BC Construction Association (BCCA) was first incorporated on March 25, 1970 after a nearly decade-long incubation period.
Today BCCA is the largest and most diverse construction association in the province, serving over 10,000 employers of all labour affiliations through a network of four Regional Construction Associations and a broad suite of direct services to the industry.
It’s as true for organizations as it is for people: if you want to understand who you are today, understand where you came from. A trip down memory lane to the roots of BCCA shows that throughout the 1960’s there were several organizations vying to be “the single voice” of BC’s construction industry, including a number of “mixed” associations. All were either jockeying for the pole position or aligning with those who were.
In 1965 then-President Howard Hume of the Vancouver Construction Association (today VRCA), said that a strong province-wide organization was the only solution to the many problems facing the industry.
VCA Vice President Bert Shore proposed a study of potential integration pathways.
A bit later that year, the Vice President of the General Contractor’s Committee at VCA acknowledged that “many meetings had been had about strong provincial representation”, including meetings with the Heavy Construction Association and the Victoria Builders Exchange.
But there was still a long way to go – five years of meeting and wrangling and voting down motions and proposing new ones, exploring new alliances and possibilities for amalgamation.
For example, in 1966 a motion was made that VCA, Heavy Construction Association of BC, Vancouver General Contractors Association, Victoria Building Industries Exchange, Prince George Construction Association and Dawson Creek Construction amalgamate to form a new Association to be known as the BC Construction Association. The motion was defeated due to concerns about the make-up of the Board and clauses affecting labour relations and too much representation from Vancouver.
In that same year the Prince George Construction Association registered the name BCCA to protect it until agreement would be reached on what that organization would be.
VCA President Howard Hume lamented that “no matter how rational an argument you put up in favour of amalgamation, there was always plenty of discussion after you left.” Meetings were described as “stormy”.
The history can get confusing at times, with so many associations proposing different motions to different configurations of partners. But one thing is clear: the existence of BCCA is a significant achievement for the construction industry in our province.
In 1967 a “BC Construction Committee” was struck because it was widely recognized that the Amalgamated Construction Association (ACA), which had been formed the prior year, was not going to fulfil the provincial role.
Finally in 1968 the formation of BCCA was approved in principal. The first offices were in Construction House, on 11th Avenue and Oak street in Vancouver. The members were only the mixed associations. The trade contractors associations could participate through membership in the mixed associations.
In 1969 the first officers were elected: Henry Cruezot from PG, Herb Fritz from Vancouver, KA Kenyon from Kelowna, and Don Mott from Vancouver. The Executive Director was Joe Bishop.
In 1970 incorporation was granted and things were finally underway for BCCA as the single provincial representative for BC’s construction industry.
In 1972 BC elected its first socialist government and there are many parallels to the issues today: in the 70’s the NDP put forward initiatives including a new labour code, the Agricultural Land Reserve Act, a revised Lien Act, a scheme for licensing contractors, and government car insurance. They were in power for three years.
Integrated membership between the regional association, the provincial association, and the national association was introduced in 1973, at which time it was also agreed that BCCA would not represent Yukon or Northwest Territories. This is also the year that BCCA moved into the Board of Trade Tower at 1177 West Hastings Street. The offices would stay in Vancouver until 1981 when BCCA moved to Victoria.
Broader economic conditions during this period included “Stagflation”, “profitless prosperity”, and soaring oil prices.
Everyone grappled with the switch from Imperial to Metric measurements (some of us are still grappling with that today!).
And that’s the story of our beginning. Come back soon to learn about BCCA in the 1980s.
References for this article: “A Single Voice” the Story of the Vancouver Construction Association, Building Vancouver Island for 100 Years by Michael Wicks, Fifty Years of Building B.C. by the B.C. Road Builders, and City of Vancouver Archives.