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BCSSGA president shares thoughts on COVID-19 and industry concerns

The BCSSGA knows how important the aggregate industry is to all levels of construction and is thankful the government is paying attention to the industry’s needs


May 15, 2020
By Jay Koblun

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The BC Stone Sand and Gravel Association (BCSSGA) has been busy developing new safety procedures, advocating for its members, and wondering what the economy will look like once the pandemic is over. In general, the association continues to operate business as usual.

“We find the aggregate industry is tailored well to working in times like this,” said Tyson Craiggs, BCSSGA president and aggregate resource and lands manager at Terus Construction. “We’re running under the guidance of Herman Henning, chief inspector of mines. He’s doing an excellent job providing the industry with information and guidance on how to operate during these times.”

Tyson Craiggs, BCSSGA president and aggregate resource and lands manager at Terus Construction.

Craiggs said in a B.C. gravel pit the average number of workers is two to six and in a pit you are either in a loader, in a tower, on the ground, or on the scales. Gravel pits are large areas and every person has a specific role so he said it is easier to isolate in a pit than other areas.

“With distancing we’ve seen a few challenges on the scale, with people coming in and out. We’re having companies set up policies where your wash your hands and sanitize before you go in to the scale shacks because that’s where the most interactions from outside are coming from,” he said. “But overall we’re finding it relatively easy to operate and we appreciate the government backing us and continuing on with road building in the aggregate sector.”

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BCSSGA’s president said it’s been encouraging to see companies work together throughout the pandemic.

“Here at Terus Construction where I work we ordered a bunch of N95 masks and we’ll be donating a lot back to the communities we work in to make sure they’re available for those people that can’t get them. Also, every week we’re holding a call with Bruce Ralston, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources; major mines association, equipment distributors, all on one call. So, we’re all there with the Minister talking about issues so they can take that information back to the cabinet table,” he said. “It’s a positive vibe. We feel very fortunate that we are working in this type of environment.”

Craiggs said the BCSSGA would like to see a more attention to private sector and housing sector investments.

“We’re definitely advocating for infrastructure spending and continue to do that as a group. The road builders of B.C. have a campaign with the Ministry of Transportation and we’re working with them and concrete B.C. to make sure the government hears us so we don’t run into the problem where we go from a position of functioning OK to a situation where we’re functioning at a level that’s a lot lower than it is now.”

Craiggs said there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the current economy and how it may look down the road too.

“The downturn in the world economy makes us wonder what will happen next year. What will happen with next year’s budget? That’s a concern many of our members have,” he said. “I would love to know how far down the road the B.C. Government is looking and have they thought through the overall affects of the changes in the economy that this is causing. I think the economy will change forever from this. What is the forecast? What is it going to look like in the future? Have they put much thought into that?”

The BCSSGA knows how important the aggregate industry is to all levels of construction and is thankful the government is paying attention to the industry’s needs.

“I feel he [Ralston] is really listening to. It’s one thing to engage, it’s another to listen, and I feel like we’re getting good reception from his office and we are also seeing some results from some of our conversations—it’s very positive,” said Craiggs.

“Aggregate is the foundation of all construction in British Columbia and the world,” said Craiggs.

“You can’t do any construction projects without aggregate so we’ve just got to stress that importance. A strong aggregate sector means a strong economy.”