Shipbuilding Contracts: Premier Christy Clark Confident Rich Deal Will Float To B.C.

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VICTORIA - B.C. Premier Christy Clark is confident at least part of a lucrative federal shipbuilding contract will find its way to the West Coast.

The $35-billion contract is expected to be awarded this week, and could be awarded as early as Wednesday. Clark said Tuesday she believes Seaspan Shipyards of North Vancouver will be one of the successful bidders.

Twenty-five-billion is earmarked for construction of 20 navy warships while a second contract, worth about $8-billion, will build Coast Guard vessels and supply ships.

Clark held weekend discussions with the prime minister and said she was assured politics will not be a factor when selecting between the B.C. shipyard and two competitors in Nova Scotia and Quebec.

The chief executive officer of Seaspan Shipyards estimates B.C. will reap an economic windfall of about $15 billion if his firm gets the nod.

Jonathan Whitworth said the financial impact of a successful bid would be similar to the province winning the Winter Olympics every two or three years.

Jobs Minister Pat Bell said the anticipation of the shipbuilding announcement is similar to that of an expectant parent.

"It feels a bit like having our first child," he said. "I'm not sure whether it's going to be a boy or a girl, but it's going to be exciting either way."

Bell said the B.C. bid is top-notch and the West Coast shipbuilding industry is more than capable of handling a $25-billion warship contract, but there's no shame in the $8-billion contract.

The $8-billion contract to build Coast Guard and other vessels includes dedicated shipbuilding work, while the larger navy contract involves shipping out work to design and build the systems to help run warships, he said.

"The benefits to British Columbia in terms of the non-combat (contract) are significant as well," said Bell.

"A lot of the $25 billion in the combat portion of the contract relates to outfitting the actual ships, so that's the guns and so on associated with it, so that may or may not create as much incremental benefit to the province."

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