Canadian Consulting Engineer

Low profits hamper progress in construction

A committee of eminent people from the construction industry's public and private sectors is charged with finding w...

February 20, 2003   Canadian Consulting Engineer

A committee of eminent people from the construction industry’s public and private sectors is charged with finding ways to stimulate innovation and spearhead a national strategic plan for the 21st century.
The National Steering Committee for Innovation in Construction was formed in 2001 and will meet again in late May at a forum in Calgary to present a proposal. The committee — which is transitional and will be superceded by a permanent body — is co-chaired by Dev Fraser, president of PCL in Edmonton and John Westeinde, president of the Westeinde Group of Ottawa.

Representing the consulting engineering sector on the committee are, Dale Craig, P.Eng. president of J.L. Richards of Ottawa, and Ali Ettehadieh, president of Genivar of Montreal.

A report of the committee’s preliminary findings pointed out that the productivity of the construction industry in Canada was lagging behind the rest of the country’s business sectors by more than 50% since 1960, with the greatest lag happening in the past two decades. It also noted that low profit margins, poor dissemination of knowledge and a lack of cohesion hamper construction’s effectiveness in world markets.

However, the committee’s preliminary findings also noted several new opportunities opening up for the industry. Notable are new contracting practices such as public-private partnerships and design build, and especially the trend towards sustainable development which requires new technologies, energy efficiency and an increasing focus on the importance of building and infrastructure longevity.


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