Sea To Sky Highway

Laila rules

Almost a year ago, blogger Laila Yuile reported on retaining wall defects along the Sea to Sky Highway. Pictures were included:

Troubling photos spark Ministry of Transportation inspections of Sea to Sky retaining walls, creating new concerns over Kiewit construction.

Laila followed that with additional information, including:

Sea to Sky retaining wall questions continue as ministry employee emails indicate Kiewit inspected their own work.

In 2014, the transportation ministry reported the problems were merely cosmetic although correspondence uncovered by Ms. Yuile suggested government was relying on inspections conducted by the original contractor, not by ministry staff or independent engineers. It seems the ministry of transportation and infrastructure is not revealing the full extent of problems with the highway. One thing is clear, Laila Yuile has been ahead of others in reporting on financial and engineering aspects of the Sea to Sky Highway and the ministry’s responses last year to her inquiries are now proven dubious.

Today, CBC reports:

Sea-to-Sky Highway in need of repairs near Horseshoe Bay

The Sea-to-Sky Highway is to undergo repairs to a retaining wall near Horseshoe Bay — just five years after the Winter Olympics for which the B.C. government spent $600 million to widen and straighten large sections…

The depth and quality of CBC’s current reporting may be revealed by their small ($195 million) error in quoting the cost of the roadway. As a matter of fact, the Auditor General revealed in 2012, “Capital costs increased from $600 million to $795 million.” The watchdog office also reported:

…the Province (represented by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure) entered into a P3 agreement with the Sea-to-Sky Highway Investment Limited Partnership (a group of private companies) to design, build and finance about two-thirds of the highway improvements and to operate and maintain the entire highway for 25 years. The ministry is responsible for managing the remaining one-third of improvements…

Of course, the entire business deal has never been revealed. That’s a benefit of public private partnerships, if you are a private partner; it’s a disadvantage if you are a member of the public. However, we learn from public accounts about the stream of payments going from taxpayers to the private partner.

From B.C. Public Accounts (Updated for FY 2015):


Fiscal Year Payments Future Obligations Grand Total
2006 $ 7,104,157
2007 $ 25,369,209
2008 $ 36,364,125
2009 $ 53,795,523
2010 $ 58,293,523
2011 $ 63,003,619
2012 $ 66,140,676
2013 $ 58,173,389
2014 $ 53,578,713
2015 $ 55,656,106
2016 $ 51,000,000
2017 $ 50,000,000
2018 $ 50,000,000
2019 $ 49,000,000
2020 $ 48,000,000
2021 & beyond $ 451,000,000
Totals $ 477,479,040 $ 699,000,000 $ 1,176,479,040


More than three years ago, Laila Yuile wrote excellent pieces on the Sea to Sky Highway. Click HERE to begin looking at her work.

There is other information about this roadway at In-Sights:

Sea to Sky Highway subsidy $12-$15 each vehicle


14 replies »

  1. Thanks for the rerun of this saga Norm; it needs all the attention it can get as it has, for the most part, been “out of sight, out of mind.”

    I read regularly and have been following this particular (mis)adventure since she first brought it up. When you couple her material with yours on “shadow tolls” it is alarming how licentious and enmeshed the Liberal/Contractor relationships are.

    The incestuous inbreeding of the Liberals with Kiewit/ Dragados/Flatiron/Shimmick/Turner and SNC Lavilin makes a family reunion in Eastern Kentucky and Virginia seem normal. The music is always the same; they just keep swapping dance partners.

    I encourage everyone to do a simple Google search of the various players and I hope the folks on the flats below the (+/- 100 million) Ruskin Dam project are paying attention since Kiewit is quite likely in the shady background there as well.


    SNC Lavalin



  2. Next question: does Minister Stone call up the “partners” and say “Hey, we have a big repair bill that we'd like to share with you.”

    “Or, for a generous donation to the party, we'll take it on ourself and just bill the taxpayer.”


  3. This is the result of design, Engineer and build being awarded to one corporate entity. The checks and balances normally looked after by having 3 separate companies do the design, engineer and build. This construction best practice has all but disappeared in public sector contracts. The current practice of 3P projects are not much other than a sweetheart deal for the companies who build them. This current Provincial government is selling the future of BC to select companies, without any consideration for the massive mortgages they are committing our future generation to pay for. The Socreds never did this and they built far more of this province than the Liberals are doing while selling the future to their friends/political contributors.


  4. Yes, but it was just a week ago that Province columnist Michael Smyth was reminding people about fast ferries. It is so much easier to replay an old show than to do a little original work and look at billions in overruns and sweetheart deals done by the present group of fraud artists.


  5. I just read that taxpayers are “not on the hook” for this repair. Should I believe the Minister ?

    Guy in Victoria


  6. Like, when they said the problems Laila raised were merely cosmetic?

    Or, when they said the $400 million, no, $600 million, no, $795 million, no, $1,153 million project was on-time, on-budget?


  7. Oh yes, that old saw, Fast Ferries. Never the Canada Line went over budget by $1 billion, or the new stadium roof cost over $500 million, or the Sea to Sky Highway falling apart, or BC Rail being sold off for a song; all BC Governments malfeasance is boiled down to Fast Ferries and those were sold under scrap price!


  8. Ah yes, the Fast Ferries. A solid target and so easy to trot out by the “lazy-fair” government handout readers.

    Next time one of them decides to take a 25 year walk down memory lane to the Fast Ferries I would encourage them to go just a few years farther back to the Coquihalla.

    The highway that was fast tracked through the winter and by thaw time so much of it had settled and heaved, huge portions had to be rebuilt. The highway that had electric heaters installed under the asphalt. Heaters that cost a fortune, never worked properly and were soon unplugged.
    Mustn't forget Kerkhoff Construction, the Kiewits of the 80s.


  9. But the fast ferries were resold to Abu Dhabi Mar a yacht-building company based in the United Arab Emirates and even though the details of the sale are confidential you can bet that Washington State Marine Group`s profit of their 19 million “investment” would make the Burke mountain land sale pale in comparison. Neo Liberals whole game is taking public wealth and redistributing it among business with the inferred implications of future employment or benefits. Its the Rosetta Stone of the neo liberals policy and if you look at everything they do through that lens its pretty easy to see their angle.


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