The B.C. government is calling on the federal government to award one of two lucrative shipbuilding contracts to the West Coast.

Premier Christy Clark has pledged her support for a multi-billion-dollar bid, calling it a "once in a generation" opportunity.

"This will mean jobs today, not just a job where you work for three months and get laid off, but long-term career jobs," Clark said while touring Seaspan Marine Corporation's North Vancouver shipyard Tuesday. "Not just for this generation, but for our kids too."

Last year, the federal government announced  one of the largest military shipbuilding projects since the Second World War, with plans to spend $35 billion in the next 30 years on new fleets for the Navy and Coast Guard.

It's one issue that has the opposition B.C. NDP on side with the government.

"We have to send a strong message to Ottawa and let them know the province is behind the bid," said NDP MLA Mike Farnworth. "The potential for B.C. is enormous. It's bigger than Olympics."

The contract would create thousands of jobs and draw billions of dollars into the province.

One West Coast bidder

For workers, it means a future they can count on.

 "It means long, steady employment," said pipefitter Frank Antonio. "We can improve on our work skills and keep a steady job."

The contract could open other doors. For years, B.C. Ferries has built its ships in Germany, but a revitalized shipbuilding industry could change all that, said Victoria's shipyards general manager Malcolm Barker.

"With a long term project like this, we would get an investment in infrastructure that's both [in] people and capital," Barker said. "That gives us a much better advantage."

Four Canadian shipyards, including Seaspan, are competing for the business. The three other competitors are all on the East Coast.

Clark will be in Ottawa later this month to promote B.C.'s bid.

The final decision is expected in September.

With files from the CBC's Leah Hendry