Dear Ward 7 Neighbours,
Hamilton Chamber of Commerce President Keanin Loomis has been busy recently, promoting the business case for Hamilton’s LRT (read “Business Group Intends to Counter Negative Voices on LRT”) and when necessary, bringing a voice of reason to City Hall(read “LRT Planning: Motion Before Council is a Block On Progress”).
In addition to the business case for Hamilton’s LRT, at the Hamilton Citizens’ Jury on Transit public meetings last month, I was excited to learn that a key social benefit of building the LRT is a promise of many new local jobs for Union labour and trades workers.
As a structural engineer who works daily with skilled labour, general labour, iron workers, welders, concrete finishers, carpenters, electricians, pipe layers, equipment operators, and technicians in the field, the inclusion of local labour requirements as part of the Metrolinx LRT construction contract is very encouraging news for Hamilton.
Continue reading for my thoughts on some of the opportunities and issues involved with specifying local labour requirements for a construction contract of this magnitude.
Hamilton LRT Construction Jobs – Opportunities and Issues
With 14 year’s experience designing and building large public infrastructure projects across Ontario, I have a deep respect for the work construction workers provide.
That is why I found it to be such encouraging news to learn that local labour will be a Metrolinx contract requirement for successful LRT Contractors.
With $1.2 billion in construction projected to start with shovels in the ground in 2019 and completion scheduled for 2024 – there will be a lot of work available across all facets of the construction industry.
This is great news for Hamilton!
However, there are two issues commonly associated with local labour requirements that will have to be addressed by Metrolinx before tendering.
Hiring Reliable Local Labour Can Be A Challenge
First, it is often difficult for Contractors to find and hire reliable, qualified short term local construction workers.
Construction work is one of the most physically demanding jobs there is and many new hires don’t last longer than a few days. This leaves Contractors scrambling with a steady cycle of unproductive labour as they try to satisfy local labour requirements.
In Hamilton, I don’t see this as a problem at all.
Our City is a well know source of qualified, hard working, productive construction labour and there are several years worth of work available – so Contractors should have no problems satisfying local labour requirements.
Workers Need Long Term Employment
The second challenge is to make sure that the local labour requirements included with the Metrolinx LRT contract are structured to ensure long term employment – not just short term contract positions.
With a five year construction schedule, the Hamilton LRT project is longer than most contracts, so there should be opportunities for Contractors to maintain a consistent work force throughout the project.
Looking beyond 2024, if Hamilton remains committed to the long term implementation of the BLAST public transit network, there will be enough work available to keep local construction workers employed long term.
Leadership With Experience Is Important!
Infrastructure is the backbone of every City and I believe that it is critical to have representation at Hamilton City Council that understands construction – now more than ever.
If we want to make sure that the opportunities promised to local labour during LRT construction are actually realized, we need to make sure that both Metrolinx and the successful LRT Contractors hold up their end of the bargain.
John-Paul Danko – Hamilton City Council Candidate
Ward 7 Hamilton Central Mountain