Canadian Consulting Engineer

Chair’s Comments: 35th Annual Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards

October 1, 2003
By Mike Murray, P.Eng.

As I chaired the selection committee for this year's Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards, I was reminded once again how significantly the consulting engineering profession touches all aspects of ou...

As I chaired the selection committee for this year’s Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards, I was reminded once again how significantly the consulting engineering profession touches all aspects of our lives. Some of the projects we reviewed addressed basic needs like water supply and sanitation — from source to tap, to treatment, and back to the aquatic environment. Other projects addressed our needs for energy, including conventional and innovative power generation, as well as transmission systems. Many projects focused on mobility: roads, bridges, airports, railways, including a number of very progressive public transit initiatives. Some projects provided shelter: new and renovated buildings for living, working and entertainment purposes. Still others concentrated on manufacturing operations, from the extraction of raw materials to the production of finished products.

The nominations demonstrated excellence in all aspects of the profession. The engineers’ achievements ranged from finding creative solutions to daunting problems, to paying attention to essential details in complex situations. Some of the projects will improve the lives of millions of people; others will ensure our ongoing enjoyment of local landmarks and the natural environment. All the winning entries met or surpassed their clients’ expectations, and they demonstrated originality and innovation, and were attentive to their social and economic impacts.

The expertise of Canadian consulting engineers is sought across the country and around the globe. This geographic diversity is reflected in the nominees and the winners, which include projects from coast to coast in Canada, and from such widespread international locations as China, Mozambique and the Caribbean.

A strong commitment to environmental responsibility was evident among the submitted projects. Almost every project recognized and mitigated its environmental impacts, and many projects produced significant enhancements. Clearly, the profession is leading the way in environmental sensitivity and innovation.

Finally, I would like to thank the members of the jury panel, whose insight and thoughtful deliberations helped us deal with the challenging task of selecting the winners from the 50 high calibre submissions. On behalf of the panel, congratulations to all the participants in the 2003 Awards program, and particularly to the winning entries!


Mike Murray, P.Eng. – Chair

Mr. Murray is commissioner of transportation and environmental services with the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Ontario. He has overall responsibility for the region’s water supply, wastewater treatment, solid waste management, transportation and transit services. A graduate in chemical engineering from McMaster University, he also has a Master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Toronto. After graduating, he worked as a consulting engineer, mainly in northern and western Canada.

Michael A. Butt, P.Eng.

Mr. Butt is president and chief executive officer of Buttcon in Concord, Ontario and of Somers Construction in Bermuda. He is also a director of Aecon Group, Canada’s largest publicly traded construction and infrastructure development company. Having obtained a degree in civil engineering from the University of Toronto, he managed construction companies in Barbados and South Africa until 1973. He is a director of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and has been its chair since 1997. In 2001, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario appointed him to the Council of Professional Engineers of Ontario.

Rosalind Cairncross, P.Eng.

Ms. Cairncross is a contributing editor to Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine. A graduate in chemical engineering and environmental studies from York University in Toronto, she has worked in research in the chemical industry and in the environmental and education fields for government and non-governmental organizations. She was a consultant in Canada, Kenya, South Africa and Cuba for several years. She is past-president of Women in Science and Engineering, has been a board member of the Ontario Science Centre, and is a past member of the Ontario Round Table on the Environment and Economy. She teaches and dances in Toronto.

Alan G. Davenport, P.Eng.

Professor Davenport founded the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory at the University of Western Ontario in London in 1965 and has been its director ever since. He is also a professor emeritus and former chairman of the civil engineering group at the university. Dr. Davenport has acted as engineering consultant on many structures, including the World Trade Center in New York City, the Sears Building in Chicago, the CN Tower in Toronto, and most recently the Messina Straits Crossing in Italy. He has served on numerous professional and government committees and boards, has contributed to many journals and was the founding editor of the Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering. He has advanced degrees in mechanical sciences from Cambridge University, England and in civil engineering from the University of Toronto and the University of Bristol, England.

Peter M. DeVita, P.Eng.

Mr. DeVita is president of DeVita Associates of Richmond Hill, Ontario, which custom-makes computers for high performance and industrial systems with harsh environments. With a masters degree in engineering specializing in computer and environmental studies from the University of Toronto, he also has an MBA from York University. He served as the president of Professional Engineers Ontario in 2000-2001 and was instrumental in the creation of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers. Earlier this year he was invested as a Companion of the Professional Engineers Ontario Order of Honour.

Lawrence Ferchoff, P.Eng.

Mr. Ferchoff is president of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba and is currently involved in developing power generation projects with Manitoba Hydro. He graduated with the gold medal in electrical engineering from the University of Manitoba in 1973. His work experience is in the areas of project and business unit management, electrical systems engineering, power generation and distribution, automation and control systems and information technology. He has been active in several professional and community organizations, including the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE), the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society, the United Way and Toastmasters.

Emery P. LeBlanc, ing.

Mr. LeBlanc retired in 2002 as president of Alcan Primary metal group and executive vice president of Alcan Inc. At that time he had responsibilities for the company’s 16 aluminum smelters, including related bauxite mines and alumina refineries, in 12 countries around the world. He joined Alcan in 1964, and held various engineering and management positions with the company in Canada and the U.K., including vice-president for research, technology and the environment. He a director of Bechtel Canada. He was appointed by the Prime Minister as a member of the National Roundtable on the Economy and Environment from 1998 to 2001. He has an engineering degree from the University of New Brunswick.

Bruce Lorimer

Mr. Lorimer is the director general, professional and technical programs of the Real Property Program Branch of Public Works and Government Services Canada. The branch provides direction on all matters relating to the delivery of property in the federal government. Mr. Lorimer is responsible for developing policies, standards, guidelines and processes for facilities, including asset and facilities management, project delivery, architectural, engineering and environmental services. He is a member of the Order of Architects of Quebec and a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

Sheri Plewes, P.Eng.

Ms. Plewes has been vice president, contracts and acquisitions with TransLink, the transport authority for the Greater Vancouver Regional District, since September 1999. She oversees engineering de
sign, construction and maintenance of capital assets for the system, including the major road network, bridges, bus and seabus, rail and ferries. Previously she was assistant city engineer for the city of Vancouver, managing staff and responsible for planning, designing, constructing and maintaining the water and sewer systems and managing projects such as the Cassiar Connector project. She has also worked in the private sector in energy. She has a degree in civil engineering from the University of Alberta.


The Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards are given annually and are now in their 35th year. They are given to recognize outstanding work by consulting engineers on completed projects.

This year 50 entries were received (compared to a record 63 last year). The jury met at the Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine offices in Toronto at the beginning of June.

Technical awards are given to projects that demonstrate a high quality of engineering, having due regard for imagination and innovation. Consideration is given to the application of existing or new techniques, to the social, economic and environmental impact, to the complexity of the project, and to how well the result met the client’s needs.

Entries received in the technical categories were (Buildings 7, Transportation 9, Water Resources & Energy 5, Environmental Remediation 3, Natural Resources, Mining & Industry 5, Studies, Software & Special Services 11. Entries per non-technical categories: Project Management 4, International 4, Community Outreach & In-House Initiatives 2. Note, awards are given by merit, not one per category.

Geographical distribution of entering firms: Maritimes 2, Quebec 10, Ontario 11, Manitoba 6, Alberta 10, B.C. 11.

The awards were presented to the consulting engineers and their clients at a gala evening on October 25 at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg.


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