Canadian Consulting Engineer

LETTERS (June 01, 2000)

June 1, 2000
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Who's Assessing the Assessments?I read with great interest the article by Rosalind Cairncross, "Stepping Out on Spadina" (January-February) describing the Spadina Light Rail Transit Line in Toronto. A...

Who’s Assessing the Assessments?

I read with great interest the article by Rosalind Cairncross, “Stepping Out on Spadina” (January-February) describing the Spadina Light Rail Transit Line in Toronto. As General Manager of Planning at the Toronto Transit Commission in the late 1980s, I was responsible for initiating the project. At the public meetings in the neighbourhood, I insisted that the streetcar tracks needed to be separated from auto traffic by 6* curbs. The activists insisted that these would “divide the community,” so I had a 6* inch curb made up from wood, had a handle put on it to carry to meetings, and painted it grey. When the discussion of the curb as an insurmountable barrier came up at the meeting, I put my “curb” down on the floor and invited them to see if they could step over it.

Unfortunately, the politicians sided with the activists and ignored our advice. We got accidents, then green bollards, and now may finally get 6* curbs. All I can say to the activists is “I told you so,” but it gives me no great pleasure.

Dr. Juri Pill, P.Eng., President and CEO

Toronto District Heating Corporation

Engineering as loss leader

Norman Ball’s very interesting article “What’s Out There” (January-February) refers to the possibility of engineering becoming a loss leader for financial organizations. Andersen Consulting is apparently the largest single employer of new engineering graduates in the U.S. The big accounting/management consulting firms in general are working to become sole source consulting providers to the largest conglomerates. To this end they are also buying or starting law firms.

Peter Halsall, P.Eng.

Halsall Associates, Toronto

End of the owner’s engineer?

The Board of Directors of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada (ACEC) and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) have recently given their approval to the new CCDC Document 14 Design-Build Stipulated Price Contract.*

This contract will now be promoted across Canada as an industry standard and will undoubtedly have significant influence.

The agreement identifies only three critical parties in a design-build project: the owner, the design-builder and the design-builder’s consultant. There is no mention of a consultant to represent the owner’s interests.

In fact, the concept of an owner’s consultant was strongly opposed by the Canadian Construction Association and the Canadian Design-Build Institute throughout the formulation of this agreement. This is not surprising given the desire of their members to eliminate any interference in the owner-contractor chain.

The acceptance of this position by ACEC and RAIC, however, is very surprising in that it is counter to the practice currently followed on many design-build building projects, and on almost all major design-build engineering projects in Canada.

The practice of having an owner’s engineer to assist the owner in defining the project requirements or scoping documents; to assist in preparing and evaluating RFQs and RFPs for design-builders; and to monitor the preparation of construction documents and the construction itself, has been invaluable in the success of design-build projects in Canada. Such projects include many buildings for Defence Canada, Confederation Bridge, Highway 407, Lion’s Gate Bridge, B.C. Skytrain and numerous others.

In contrast, the lack of an owner’s consultant, the lack of clearly defined owner’s requirements, and the conflict which ensues when the design-builder’s engineer attempts to serve both the owner and the design-builder have led to a number of problems and claims in Canada.

Our associations need to be encouraged to oppose Document 14 as it is presently written.

Barry Lester, P.Eng.

Vice President and COO, Stantec Consulting, Calgary

*See ACEC Review, “Design-Build,” page 15

Concrete Omission

Excellent article on the Edmonton International Parkade (March-April), but considering that the precast portion of a parkade is over 85% of the total project, it would have been nice if the article had mentioned our precast member LaFarge from Edmonton.

Brian J. Hall, B.A., MBA

National Marketing Director, Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, Ottawa

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