Friday, October 11, 2013

Four big Massey Bridge contracts up for grabs.

Preparations to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel with a bridge are rapidly underway.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure issued requests for proposals on Oct. 1 for four major, long-term contracts, just a week-and-a-half after Premier Christy Clark’s Sept. 20 announcement. 
Massey Tunnel (Highways B.C.) 

Clark revealed construction of the Richmond-to-Delta bridge would start in 2017, but she did not say in her Union of B.C. Municipalities convention speech what the budget would be or how it would be financed. Does government know all the answers and is it just too afraid to give us all sticker shock? 

Companies hoping to win contracts for community relations and consultation, technical advisory, environmental management and owner’s engineer services have until Oct. 24 to file their bids. A rather short three-week window for something so complex. (UPDATE - Oct. 22): On Oct. 21, just three days before the bid deadline, the government extended the closing date for submissions by a week to Oct. 31. 

Contract values were not disclosed in the tendering documents, but the terms run November 2013 to March 2022. The government has an option to extend each contract until 2024. 

The George Massey Tunnel, opened in 1959, carries 80,000 vehicles a day and is Metro Vancouver's third busiest crossing. 

“The existing four-lane tunnel is congested for 12 hours a day in both directions, with significant impacts for commuters, goods movers and tourists,” according to the RFP documents. “It is the only major Fraser River crossing in Metro Vancouver with a single lane of traffic in the off-peak direction during the daily commute.”

The owner’s engineer contract is the most complex, estimated to be 160,000 person hours for structural, traffic, geotechnical, seismic and electrical engineering. 

“The contractor shall have extensive engineering experience in the development and delivery of large transportation infrastructure projects, including major bridge structures, in an urban environment,” said the RFP.

A two-year seismic upgrade costing $19 million finished in 2006. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Exclusive: Liquor for lieutenants, suds for sergeants: booze is legal at B.C. RCMP HQ

It took longer than they wanted, but the Mounties finally got their can.

Bottle, tap and keg, too. 

Hops and grapes can legally flow at the RCMP’s new, billion-dollar British Columbia headquarters tucked amid Surrey’s Green Timbers forest (and its mighty redwood, the larch, the fir, the mighty Scots pine). 
RCMP's $1 billion new B.C. digs (

In June 2012, I revealed how the federal force applied for a liquor licence for a private, on-site bar. The public reaction stemming from the blog post was no surprise. There had been too much bad publicity about cops and booze, from the justice-obstructing ex-Cpl. Benjamin “Monty” Robinson to the detachment-drinking, subordinate-seducing Sgt. Don Ray

Surrey City Council gave thumbs down to the full-time bar, but recommended the RCMP be eligible for special events permits only. In April 2013, the RCMP said it filed a new application directly to the provincial government. 

Last week, I confirmed that B.C.'s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch issued licence number 305469 to the Mounties on June 17. 

“The RCMP followed the same process as anyone else, and had to apply for a new licence because their new HQ is in a different community (i.e., from Vancouver to Surrey),” said an LCLB representative on the condition of anonymity. “Minors, other than professional entertainers, are not permitted within the licensed area(s) unless approved by the LCLB.”

The licence allows liquor service from noon to midnight for a maximum capacity of 535. The original application was for a maximum 1,198 from 11 a.m. to midnight, Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 

Spokesman Sgt. Rob Vermeulen claims the RCMP will use it sparingly. 

“The RCMP has made it clear that there will be no general usage or regular hours in the facility – it will only be used for pre-approved private special functions, such as formal Regimental Dinners, memorial services, levees, and veteran functions and other traditional events,” Vermeulen said. “In the absence of special events or functions, the facility will be used for general meetings, gatherings and ceremonies and alcohol will be prohibited during these instances.”

Vermeulen said liquor has been served just four times since June 17 at a Vancouver Vets Fall Dinner meeting, an Officers’ Cops Against Cancer fundraising dinner and two bartender training sessions. 

“The room has also been used 65 times for scheduled meetings, training sessions, town halls, etc. where a large room was required (no liquor service whatsoever),” Vermeulen said. “The room has also been used numerous times (unscheduled) by groups looking for a meeting room on an impromptu basis (again, no liquor service).”

Vermeulen said RCMP members’ dues fund the mess, not government. 

Const. Laughing Leadfoot

Meanwhile, the RCMP has confirmed that the cop found guilty of speeding through a North Vancouver speed trap was on-duty at the time of the Valentine's Day infraction. 

Const. Michael Milo Arbulic drove his personal vehicle 60 km-h above the posted 80 km-h speed limit on the Upper Levels Highway around 1 a.m. on Feb. 14. Police chased him for five kilometres and caught up with him in West Vancouver. He wasn’t ticketed nor was his car impounded, on-the-spot penalties for those found speeding 40 km-h above the limit. 

Judge Steven Merrick imposed a $483 excessive speed fine plus $210, what he would’ve been charged for the impound. Arbulic was a no-show in North Vancouver Provincial Court on Sept. 17; defence lawyer David Butcher appeared on his behalf but refused outside the court to say whether the RCMP paid the legal bill. 

Besides confirming Arbulic was in his own vehicle, Insp. Ed Boettcher told me that the RCMP did not pay his legal bill. “Members have options to contribute to a legal fund and access that fund when necessary,” Boettcher said. 

Arbulic, 38, is subject to a Code of Conduct investigation. “Internal discipline is subject to the Privacy Act and is only a matter of public record if it goes to a formal disciplinary hearing," Boettcher said.

Arbulic’s driving record includes speeding tickets from July 1998, January 2000 and July 2004. The latter was for excessive speed. Arbulic was one of several cops around B.C. recognized by BCAA, ICBC and the parents of Alexa Middlaer for citing a dozen or more drivers for impaired driving

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