Strike could cost housing developers $30,000 per day

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Costs from delays will be passed on to buyers

David Carrigg and Laura Payton

With the HSBC Celebration of Light fireworks competition starting Wednesday in English Bay, organizers are asking people attending the event to take their garbage away with them. Photograph by : Les Bazso, The Province

Developers of big housing projects could face losses as high as $30,000 a day as a result of today’s strike by Vancouver‘s inside civic workers, says the Urban Development Institute.

“That’s the daily holding cost for a major downtown project,” said executive director Maureen Enser, referring to delays in planning and inspection approvals due to a strike. “For a townhouse project [outside the downtown], it could be $2,500 a day.”

Paul Faoro, president of CUPE Local 15 representing 2,500 inside workers, said last night the workers will go on strike this morning.

In a slow economy, developers could afford to lay off contractors while they waited for a resolution, Enser said. But, in B.C.’s hot economy, developers must continue to pay their contractors during a strike.

“If the strike goes more than a week, it’s going to have a really serious impact,” Enser said. “Developers can’t let their teams go — they will have to hold them.”

Those holding costs will ultimately be passed on to homebuyers, she said.

Enser said the city’s planners and building inspectors were already working flat out dealing with projects related to the 2010 Olympics and Canada Line.

“When they do go back to work, there’s going to be a backlog. [A strike] will aggravate their workload,” she said.

The inside workers will be joining about 2,000 outside workers who went on strike Friday. The outside workers are responsible for collecting garbage and running parks, daycares and community centres.

The city’s 600 non-union management staff will try to maintain priority services such as parking enforcement and repairing broken traffic signals.

Organizers of the HSBC Celebration of Light fireworks competition, which starts Wednesday, called on people attending the event not to leave garbage behind.

Police and firefighters will not be on strike and will still be monitoring the four-night event.

“This is the opportunity for the public to show their support of the event by honouring the beach and the community that they’re going into. Take your garbage with you,” said fireworks spokeswoman Alicia Maluta.

Vancouver Pride organizers also depend on city garbage workers to pick up trash following their annual parade. But they say they’re more worried about garbage left behind from the fireworks finale than they are about the garbage their revellers leave behind. The competition ends the night before the Aug. 5 Pride Parade.

“Our event tends to be a much more community-spirited event,” said Ken Coolen, parade director. “We’ve never had any vandalism or violence, or anything of that sort, whereas you know the [fireworks are] always troubled with lots of commotions of various degrees.”

© The Vancouver Province 2007

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