Canadian Consulting Engineer

INFRASTRUCTURE: Montreal subway expands

March 1, 2001
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Results are due out this month on who wins the commission to extend Line 2 of the Montreal subway to Laval. The $378.8 million expansion, financed entirely by the Quebec Ministry of Transport, will ad...

Results are due out this month on who wins the commission to extend Line 2 of the Montreal subway to Laval. The $378.8 million expansion, financed entirely by the Quebec Ministry of Transport, will add three new stations north of the Henri-Bourassa station by 2006. The ministry also plans to call for proposals to develop two more stations at Anjou and Longueuil by the end of this year. The Association of Consulting Engineers of Quebec (AICQ) is praising the government’s decision to assign the work as an engineering/procurement/construction management (EPCM) package on the grounds that it will allow the teams to come up with innovative and economic solutions.

MAILBOX: Engineering undermined by administrators

Re. Comment, “Guidelines just don’t cut it,” and “What Happened in Walkerton?” (January-February, 2001, pp. 4 & 40).

It is interesting to note that in Nova Scotia we have similar problems with our Department of Environment. In fact, as Chairman of the Act Enforcement Committee for the Association of Professional Engineers of Nova Scotia, I have been involved in a detailed investigation of guidelines/regulations created by technocrats of the Department of Environment that appear to contravene the Engineering Profession Act for the province. It appears from first glance that the downsizing of the department has led to a private individual being considered as a qualified person for the selection, construction and inspection of on-site sewage systems. It is obvious to me that this process is a conflict of interest, as to select, construct and inspect could obviously lead to greater problems that could result in risks to human health.

With the typical government downsizing there has been an erosion of engineering positions, which could seriously undermine the credibility of a regulatory agency. In fact, many of the engineer’s bosses are administrators who can lack the technical experience for the decisions they make and/or encounter from the department engineer. I have seen time and again engineering decisions by non-engineers that just do not make sense passed through engineers. Therefore it is only a matter of time with respect to on-site sewage that some of the technical decisions could be flawed and result in a lack of public health protection like the situation in Walkerton.

It is unfortunate that through the chain of command in a typical government department many non-engineers may be wagging the tails of the engineers, who, as employees of the department, in turn may be unwilling to rock the boat on many issues.

Perhaps, then, in being shortsighted engineers have “dropped the ball” by allowing non-engineers to dictate their professional mandate, to the point where the engineers have been practising engineering with one hand tied behind their backs. This situation will most likely continue until the government establishes guidelines and regulations for the practice of Professional Regulatory Engineering that are in line with the Engineering Profession Act.

Thomas F. Giovannetti, P. Eng.

President Civtech Engineering & Surveying, Dartmouth, N.S.

Tobin should address sustainability

ACEC’s message by president Timothy Page on recommending FIDIC’s “sustainability impact assessments” (January-February 2000, p. 19) is precisely what the team of the recently appointed Minister for Industry Canada, Brian Tobin, should be advocating as Canada’s position. The reasons are as follows:

Within the process of worldwide transformation and the adjustments to decreasing natural resources, the outdated concepts of acquisitive competition will have to make way for a charted, more secure set of rules.

In planning for economic and societal needs of the future, leading scientists and engineers of the 21st century will have to communicate an increased sense of responsibility for the entire globe.

It is very likely that the conversion or demilitarization of science cultures and institutions will stimulate our knowledge systems to have different content and to take different directions.

Recognizing that we live today in a world in which biological, environmental, psychological, social and economic phenomena are all interdependent is crucial in the education of every person in order to assure the vitality of our civilization.

For FIDIC/ACEC to advocate sustainable development through new technologies and quality engineering that yield greater proficiency and benefit future generations is an essential and far-sighted step to meet the global direction of the future: convergence, co-operation and stabilization.

Hans F. Schweinsberg, President

Canadian International Institute of the Sciences, Humanities and Global Bioethics, Toronto

COMPANIES: Canadian-U.S. links increase

Earth Tech of Long Beach, California has bought another well-established Canadian consulting engineering firm. It took over Reid Crowther of Calgary late last year. Reid Crowther was founded in 1906, and had 700 staff at the time of its acquisition. The company now reports to Earth Tech’s Long Beach head office and has assumed the Earth Tech name. Earth Tech, itself part of the Tyco Group, acquired Procter & Redfern of Toronto almost two years ago and now has around 1,100 employees in Canada.

CH2M Gore & Storrie of Toronto has adopted the name of its U.S. parent company, and from now on will be known as CH2M HILL Canada.

Hatch Mott Macdonald, infrastructure and transportation engineers of Mississauga, Ontario, has bought Killam Group of the U.S. Killam has 450 employees and offices in New York, Florida, Alabama, New Jersey and other eastern U.S. states. Killam will continue to operate under its own name. Hatch had already bought part of the company’s transportation business last year.

Calgary based Amec (formerly Agra) is buying the assets of Ogden Environmental and Energy Services of the U.S. The purchase of the firm (for $17.5 million) provides Amec with 650 professional employees, annual revenues of U.S. $80 million, and 27 more offices in the U.S. Currently Amec has 19 Earth & Environmental offices in the western U.S. and 41 in Canada.

NOTES: Avoid the “C” word?

The American Consulting Engineers Council has found that the word “consulting” detracts from its members’ ability to influence prime audiences. They found that “with changing public perceptions, the self-limiting nature of the name causes confusion among several audiences about ACEC being a business-oriented organization.” The conclusions were based on independent researchers questioning hundreds of member firms, clients and government staff.

Engineering on T.V.

The Discovery Channel has been airing the second in its series, Frontiers of Construction this spring. Each episode exposes the public to some of the incredible possibilities of engineering, beginning with “Movers and Shakers,” aired on January 8. Viewers watched crews labour to move, inch by inch, an entire historic theatre weighing 3,000 tonnes to a new location several miles down the road. The last two episodes which air in April are “Engineering Life” (April 2) on the construction of an enclosed “Eden” the size of 30 football pitches in southern England, and “Engineering an Oasis” (April 9) on carving out a 24-square kilometre vacation city for businessmen and European tourists out of the desert on the shores of Dubai.

IN PROCESS: Technology roadmap

IBI Group of Toronto is head of a project for CABA to develop a roadmap of new technology for the intelligent buildings industry. It will examine new technologies ranging from sensors, to automated controls, to artificial reason. Funding for the $100,000, six-month research project was provided by Industry Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Natural Resources Canada and CMHC. Those knowledgeable in the field are invited to complete a survey questionnaire at

Waste handled in the Ottawa Valley

J.L. Richards & Associates and Golder Associates (Ottawa office) are the consultants for a $10 million long-term waste management system being
implemented in the Ottawa Valley. New facilities will be under construction next month to divert 65% of the solid waste from the Alice and Fraser Landfill in Laurentian Township. Four other local municipalities are partners in the project: Petawawa, Pembroke, North Algona-Wilberforce and Bonnechere Valley.

The new facilities include a composting building, material recovery building and a construction and demolition waste recycling area.

In the composting facility, 11 modular containers process 4,500 tonnes per year of source separated organic waste. The waste is pre-mixed into a biomass with wood chips, water, etc., left in the containers for 14 days, then cured to become Class A compost. Odours are controlled with a biofilter, and methane gases from the landfill itself are expected to be reduced considerably because of the prior removal of organic waste.

HUMOUR: Bureaucracy balloon

Joke: Once upon a time the Canadian government had a vast scrap yard in the middle of the desert. Parliament said, “Someone may steal from it at night,” so they created a night watchman position and hired a person to do the job. Then Parliament said, “How can the watchman do his job without proper instruction?” So they created a Planning Department and hired two people –one person to write the instructions, and one person to do proper “time studies.” Then Parliament said, “How will we know the night watchman is doing his tasks correctly?” So they created a Quality Control Department and hired two people — one to do the studies and one to write the reports. Then Parliament said, “How are these people going to get paid?” So they created a Time Keeper and a Payroll Officer. Then Parliament said, “Who will be accountable for all these people?” So they created an Administrative Section and hired three people — an Administrative Officer, an Assistant Administrative Officer, and a Legal Secretary. Then Parliament said, “We have had this command in operation for one year and we are $18,000 over budget. We must cut back our overall costs.” So they laid off the night watchman.


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