Looking out for construction in the Okanagan

The Southern Interior Construction Association has spent more than four decades providing services to the construction industry.

Work being done by Christman Plumbing and Heating Ltd to install a new geothermal plant on Princess Margaret Secondary is typical of the work done by SICA member contractors.

Work being done by Christman Plumbing and Heating Ltd to install a new geothermal plant on Princess Margaret Secondary is typical of the work done by SICA member contractors.

Growing out of two earlier groups, the Southern Interior Construction Association has spent more than four decades providing services to the construction industry over a large section of the B.C. Interior.

The South Okanagan Contractors Association was formed by J.W. Dalrymple and H.S. Kenyon in 1948. As the valley grew, so did the membership in the association, mirrored by a similar group in the northern parts of the valley, the Kamloops and District Building Exchange. By the late ‘60s, the two groups decided a single organization would be more efficient and merged in 1969 to create SICA, which, with 600 current members acts in the interests of the industrial, commercial and institutional construction industry, not only in creating variety of services and resources, but working on the legislative and political fronts as well.

“One of the things we do in this office of SICA is to meet with and have discussions with our local MLAs and MPs to help bring forward the procurement plan for that period and put it in a fashion that is conducive to our members,” said Bill Everitt, the association’s chief operating officer. He uses the concept of the government wanting to build a prison and a couple of schools.

“We attempt to try to assist them in preparing the procurement package in a manner that is conducive to our members,” said Everitt. “If it is too large, the field is limited. We try to break it up into small enough pieces, easily handled by a by a broader number of our members.”

“In addition to that, SICA has, for years, offered a huge educational component,” said Everitt. “One of our mandates is to see if we can grow the association so we are trying to encourage new members. Another is to broaden the instructional courses we offer. Our mandate is to try to see if we can’t offer more mid and upper level project management training, some of which might include how to prepare a business plan.”

One of the biggest issues currently facing the construction industry, though, is rapidly becoming an familiar complaint.

“I have to say the big buzz within the industry at the moment is people. It’s nothing new, but it is a big concern for us in regard to the construction industry,” said Everitt. “We are having difficulties finding the bodies.”

It’s also a problem that SICA is actively involved in alleviating, working in conjunction with the provincial B.C. Construction Association and the federal government.

“They’ve gone over to Ireland, because they have the same language skills and the same points of reference in regard to measurement,” said Everitt, adding that a working group from the BCCA went out and met with a large group of Irish tradespeople. “There is a group of 1,200 people from Ireland who have signed an agreement to come over to B.C. under this initiative. They were able to fast track their entry into the country because they satisfied certain of our needs.”