VICTORIA—BC Transit has approved the purchase of 17 Vicinity buses from Canadian Supplier Grande West Transportation, but Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector labour union, says the $6-million price tag will create no jobs in Canada.
Grande West bills itself as a company that designs, engineers and builds heavy duty mid-sized buses. It outsources the manufacture of its Vicinity buses to Yangzhou City, China-based manufacturer Yangzhou Asiastar Bus Co., Ltd.
“It’s disgraceful when Canada has world-class transit vehicle manufacturers but the Premier would rather send that work and funding overseas,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s B.C. Area Director. “We can’t have a green economy without creating green jobs at home.”
According to a 2013 story by The Globe and Mail, Grande West was rejected by North American bus manufacturers when it was shopping for a supplier to build the buses designed by Grande West.
And William Trainer, president and CEO of Langley, B.C.-based Grande West, bristles at the idea that his company’s products are Chinese-made.
“We are a Canadian manufacturer with a Canadian manufacturing license who won a fair tender for the buses,” said Trainer in a telephone interview.
He said Grande West employs 22 people who perform final assembly of the bus, with “some parts” shipped from Yangzhou Asiastar.
“We put up our own capital to design these buses and bring them to life to meet a need for heavy duty, mid-size buses that weren’t being built by other manufacturers,” Trainer said.
Unifor says that BC Transit’s fleet enhancement should have relied on models that are already in use in Metro Vancouver made by New Flyer Industries or Nova Bus. New Flyer employs more than 1,350 workers Winnipeg and Nova Bus employs more than 750 workers in Québec.