$70M temporary camp for Hydro workers in Manitoba being constructed in New Brunswick
Manitoba Hydro is spending $70 million on housing for a temporary camp for workers near Gillam, where crews will be working on the Bipole III project.
Hydro says a New Brunswick company submitted the cheapest and best bid, even though it will require shipping items from out of province to Manitoba.
That has some questioning Hydro’s tendering process and whether work could have been handed out here.
“I think it's very unfortunate that someone could do it cheaper in New Brunswick - ship it - considering the prices of fuel today, and they can still do it cheaper than anyone in Manitoba. I don't believe that,” said Ron Schuler, PC Hydro critic.
Hydro said that despite the travel costs, of the three bids submitted, the New Brunswick firm was the cheapest and that no Manitoba firms could handle the scope of the project.
“There is not a Manitoba supplier for it in terms of the volume that we need. There are certainly modular home builders in Manitoba, but not for the size of camp that we need," said Glenn Schneider, Hydro spokesperson.
Hydro said it needs a place to house up to 600 workers over the next five years near Gillam in order to construct Bipole III.
The camp will be the size of two football fields.
Maritime-based Kent Homes has been awarded the contract by Hydro to build the 100 dorm rooms and dining and recreation facilities.
"Each module gets manufactured at our facility, complete with electrical, all the furnishings. Basically, everything is ready to go,” said David Saucy from Kent Homes.
"It's the site of the construction camp for the new converter station which will be at the northern end of the Bipole III line, so it's really a construction camp,” said Schneider.
Sections of the homes and other buildings will have to be shipped to Manitoba starting this summer and then assembled in the province.
The camp is expected to open in September and then grow from there.
Some modular homebuilders in Manitoba who spoke to CTV News Thursday said they don’t build similar types of homes, or it is outside of their scope. A couple others, however, said they do think there is a problem with the tendering process and they said they could supply homes for a project this size.