Canada's Shipbuilding history repeats itself on the North Shore.
Seaspan's shipbuilding contract is now at the double jeopardy phase after the announcement of an unsolicited bid from Quebec's Davie (again, more voters).
An unsolicited bid — potentially worth up to $1 billion — to provide icebreakers and multi-purpose ships for the coast guard was submitted to the Trudeau government late last month, The Canadian Press has learned.
The proposal by Quebec-based Chantier Davie Canada Inc. has the potential to undercut one pillar of the national shipbuilding strategy, which delegates the construction of civilian ships to Vancouver's Seaspan shipyard. CBC
The North Shore News prophetic headline for late 1987:
Versatile Pacific awarded $700 million contract; Quebec shipyard awarded $1 Billion contract for icebergsBackgrounder:
CCGS Polar Class 8 Icebreaker
As the project progressed and the costs rose, the government's commitment to the project weakened. On 20 February 1990 the Minister of Finance Michael Wilson announced its cancellation. The Canadian government's cancellation of the Polar 8 icebreaker project was a severe blow to British Columbia's shipbuilding industry. "The cancellation of Polar 8 means B.C. probably suffers a $450 million economic development program loss," said Finance Minister Mel Couvelier. The project to build the world's biggest icebreaker was canceled despite three years of government promises that it would be built in British Columbia. Cancellation meant the loss of 1,000 promised shipyard jobs in North Vancouver and Victoria over a four-year construction period - and millions of dollars worth of contracts to marine-related industries. Versatile Pacific Shipyards Inc. spokesmen said Canadian content in the half-billion dollar ship would have been 75 percent, mostly from British Columbia contractors. It has already cost $7.5 million to design.
The massive 1989 federal budget cuts saw funding for the Polar 8 Project reduced and eventually it was cancelled in 1990, only two months before construction was scheduled to begin. The ship was to have been built at Versatile Pacific Shipyards in British Columbia at a cost of $700 million CAD. Versatile's delays in construction start up were cited as a contributing factor, while political shifts in Eastern Europe to detente and Canada to continentalism diminished the needs for the defense and sovereignty protection an icebreaker would provide. A perceived problem of overcapacity in Canadian shipyards also diminished the government's interest in providing support. The loss of the contract was the last rivet in the coffin for Versatile Pacific Shipyard, which closed in 1992.