In 1974, the Chairman of the BC Construction Association, Wayne Farmer, of Farmer Construction Ltd., approached the then Deputy Minister of Public Works, Government of BC, and those public Works officials responsible for the calling of BC Government construction tenders, and the administration and payment of contracts once they were awarded.

At that time, Public Works was responsible under the Public Works Act for the provision of facilities for all Ministries, and difficulties were being experienced, in a time of a high volume of construction work, in obtaining bids from contractors, particularly in certain areas of the Province.

The BCCA, for their part, were also concerned that such a major purchaser of construction was experiencing difficulty in getting bids, and in addition, felt that their contractors were not receiving prompt payment for work done, as well as experiencing frustrations in the current tendering procedures, and in dealing with the Province’s many Ministries and Agencies, which had many differing ways of purchasing construction.

With the approval of the Minister, a committee was formed, comprising George Giles, Deputy Minister, Wayne Farmer, Chairman, BCCA, Stan Edgcombe, Contracts Administrator, and Doug Grey, Director of Construction.This committee was known as the Joint Technical Planning Committee (JTPC), and its objectives were to even out the peaks and valleys in the government construction programme, to achieve better communication with the industry, and to reduce problems in the system of dealing with contracts once awarded.

Although the Provincial Ministry of Public Works was responsible for the space requirements of all Ministries, including vocational schools, the BCIT, and mental hospitals, government was also involved indirectly in the purchase of construction through School and Hospital Boards. It therefore became obvious that the Ministries of Education and Health should be brought into the JTPC.

Because Government-funded construction in the Province could not be considered in isolation from the private sector, or the rest of the country, and Southam Press were at that time providing regular reports on upcoming projects and awards nationwide, they, through the Journal of Commerce, were invited to join the JTPC.

As time passed, and construction volume decreased, it became less necessary to even out the peaks and valleys by timing and distribution of tender calls, and attention began to focus on improving the way in which publicly-funded construction was administered.

As word spread that the JTPC was achieving some success, more organizations with a major stake in public construction joined the group, and have remained. These include the AIBC, Consulting Engineers, QSSBC, Electrical, and Mechanical Contractors Associations, Public Works Canada, UBC, SFU, BC Transit, BC Hydro, Ministries of Forests and Labour and BCBC.

The next venture was the creation of a free mediation service for disputes in publicly funded projects, which was well received, as very little was available to disputants at that time. The option of arbitration was added at a later date. Mediation and Arbitration services have since been discontinued by the Public Construction Council.

In 1979, with the advent of BCBC as the principal purchaser of Government construction, it was decided to put the committee on a more formal basis, and to change its name to the Public Construction Council, which reflected its function more accurately.

In spite of the name-change, and the introduction of a constitution and by-laws, it still operates by consensus, not majority vote. The fact that it does so is a tribute to the caliber of its members, and the enlightened approach that they bring to the issues that are addressed. The Council’s declared main function is still to provide a forum where issues may be discussed freely and constructively for the benefit of the public owner and the construction industry.

In accordance with the very earliest of its aims — that of consistency in tendering, a Documents Committee was established, which in a major volunteer effort produced the “Procedures and Guidelines” book, which has been widely accepted by tendering agencies throughout the Province. As the Public Construction Council has ended its second decade of activity, the membership continues to address the issues of the day, and strives to reduce, if not eliminate, major problems in the public construction sector.