Modular Home Company gets thumbs up from 2010 Olympic Committee

Published: Friday, January 18, 2008

Vancouver Olympic organizers announced Thursday they have awarded Langley-based Britco Structures a $32-million contract to provide modular homes in Whistler, and also unveiled the firm as an official-supplier sponsor of the 2010 Games.

The housing will be part of the $46-million athletes' centre that the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games (Vanoc) is building at Whistler Creekside. It will remain as a training centre when the Games are over.

One element of the contract, a 100-room, dormitory-style lodge capable of housing 200 athletes, was revealed last August.

Two other elements were announced Thursday -- a permanent 20-unit townhouse complex and temporary rooms for 690 team officials that will only be used during the Games.

Chris Gardner, Britco's development manager, said his company initially approached Vanoc about the possibility of providing modular offices, similar to the construction trailers that are probably the most visible part of Britco's business.

However, Gardner said their discussions evolved into talking about Vanoc's needs for other accommodation. He added that over the last year, Britco put a lot of work into designing the lodge and townhouse units that Olympic organizers wanted.

"To be honest, when we first started, nobody knew on either side that we were going to end up where we did today," Gardner said about the contract.

Gardner added that along the way, Britco expressed interest in signing on as an official sponsor so it could use Olympic trademarks in its marketing. That is a separate contract, he said, that will see Britco pay Vanoc. Official supplier status in Vanoc's sponsorship scheme requires a contribution between $3 million and $15 million, though Gardner said he couldn't say exactly how much Britco is paying.

Dan Doyle, Vanoc's executive vice-president of construction, said Vanoc did not put the contract for athlete centre housing up for bids, but it did ask a third-party quantity surveyor to establish a market rate for what it should cost to provide what Vanoc wanted to build.

Doyle used that cost estimate to negotiate the $32-million price with Britco.

"It is a single-supplier contract," Doyle said, "with due diligence in terms of getting that estimate verified."

Doyle added that the Britco contract was approved by Vanoc's board of directors, which includes representatives from the provincial and federal governments.

"What we've done here, I think, is bring great value to [the Games]," Doyle added. "And I think the auditors, in time, will tell me that."

Doyle said Vanoc also faced a tight time frame to build the housing. It wants to have the athletes' centre finished by the end of 2008, while the rest of the athletes' village doesn't have to be finished until late 2009, so modular construction was the best option.

He said that in taking Britco on as an official supplier, Vanoc assumed an obligation to look to Britco first to provide modular buildings. There are other potential suppliers, such as Alberta-based Atco, but Doyle said he doubts that company could have beaten Britco's price.


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