The B.C. government has announced the winning company to build a new centre for wood innovation in Prince George, despite ongoing controversy and allegations surrounding the bidding process.
Jobs Minister Pat Bell says PCL Constructors Westcoast will design and build the $25 million Wood Innovation and Design Centre, which will rise six storeys above downtown Prince George.
The government says that the 27.5 metre-high structure will be North America's tallest wood structure, housing both academic and research programs focused on advancing B.C.'s expertise in wood-related products.
But NDP Forests Critic Norm Macdonald says serious questions remain about the project, including allegations that Jobs Minister Pat Bell tried to influence the bidding process for a Liberal Party friendly developer.
"We have to see a business plan, we have to get the details, we have to see what the government has signed onto," said Macdonald.
"As for the other issues that sit out there around the bid process and how that's been allegedly compromised, we've been calling for an independent investigation about what went on there," he added.
Bell denies any wrongdoing.
Last week, B.C. Premier Christy Clark brushed off criticism from former finance minister Kevin Falcon when he said Clark overstepped the limits of what the province was willing to pay for the new building.
The centre is expected to showcase the use of wood for tall building construction. The design proposed by PCL Constructors Westcoast includes the use of douglas-fir, cedar, hemlock, pine and spruce.
Construction is expected to begin immediately and finish by fall 2014.