Canadian Consulting Engineer

News (January 01, 2003)

January 1, 2003
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

BRIDGES: Toronto's island and city to be linkedAt the end of November, Toronto City Council approved the construction of a fixed link between the downtown core and the Toronto Island airport. The brid...

BRIDGES: Toronto’s island and city to be linked

At the end of November, Toronto City Council approved the construction of a fixed link between the downtown core and the Toronto Island airport. The bridge had been subject to fierce public debate for years because it will allow the tiny airport to expand its operations. Presently access to the airport is by shuttle ferry.

The airport has indicated it will increase flights to cities in a 900-mile radius, but will not use jet planes. A regional airline planning to operate from the new terminal is ordering 15 turboprop planes from Bombardier that are said to be “quiet.”

The new bridge, estimated to cost $20 million, will be located at the foot of Bathurst Street, on the western waterfront. Dillon Consulting (Don S. McKinnon, P.Eng.) is the prime consultant. Subconsultants are Montgomery & Sisam architects and M.R. Byrne of Oakville, which is engineering the bridge’s moveable parts. Construction is expected to begin in the spring.

The structural steel crossing will be 145 metres long in total, with a 50-metre moveable twin leaf Bascule centre span that lifts like a drawbridge. Two large rectangular concrete piers support the spans in the water and contain the counterweights and associated mechanical and electrical works. The bridge will be raised and lowered at set intervals by an operator in a control tower.

AIRPORTS: Calgary Airport expands

Calgary opened a major addition to its airport in December. The $160 million Concourse D north of the original terminal is 27,000-square metres (300,000 s.f.) with 11 aircraft bridges, 23 airline check-in counters, retail areas and a 1,000 stall parkade. The design team under architects Cohos Evamy included structural engineers Read Jones Christoffersen (John Charrett, P.Eng.), mechanical engineers Earth Tech/ Keen (Chris Himsl, P.Eng.), and electrical engineers Stebnicki Robertson (Ravi Abraham, P.Eng.).

The terminal is just part of a massive overhaul and expansion of the airport’s facilities that was done under the supervision of Canadian engineering firm UMA and Parsons Brinckerhoff of the U.S. Currently Canada’s fourth busiest airport, Calgary handled 8.3 million passengers in 2001.

ENVIRONMENT: Raw sewage relief at St. John’s

St. John’s, Newfoundland is finally set to have cleaner water in its picturesque harbour. Presently the untreated sewage of about 100,000 people pours into the harbour from St. John’s, Mount Pearl and the town of Paradise. In November, the federal government committed its third share of the $93 million necessary to build a sewage treatment plant and new trunk sewer. The municipality and the province will provide the other two-thirds of the money.

Newfoundland Design Associates (Jim Aylward, P.Eng.) of St. John’s together with CH2M Hill of Toronto (Bob Hook, P.Eng.) are the consulting engineers who have been working on the plans for a number of years. The plant will be built on the south side of the harbour on a steep, rocky shore. City engineer John Barry says that for every metre of flat site they need, they have to blast away 40 metres of rock. Plans are to build a conventional primary treatment plant with provision to add on secondary treatment in the future.

A new trunk sewer collection system will also be constructed around the harbour. It will be under water for 1 1/2 kilometres, and is being designed by the same firms. After the federal government completes its environmental assessment, the trunk sewer will go out to tender in 2003. The sewage treatment plant is slated for completion around 2008.

MILITARY: In the army now

SNC-Lavalin has won a $200-million contract to provide support to the Canadian military on international operations. The five-year contract is with Public Works and Government Services Canada for the Canadian Armed Forces Contractor Augmentation Program (CANCAP). It provides technical assistance in areas ranging from communications, to transportation, construction, power supply and roads.

MAILBOX: CAD and the artiste

Geoff McDonell’s “Laptop Blues” (October-November, p. 66) certainly rang true with the staff here at Smith and Andersen Consulting Engineering in Ottawa. Our staff have a range of between 30 years to one year of experience in this industry, but all could relate to the article. The more experienced staff all agree with Geoff that the big thing is the loss of artistry. People are no longer trained on how to present a drawing.

David Eastwood, P.Eng.

Smith and Andersen Consulting Engineering, Ottawa

I have just finished reading Geoff McDonell’s article “Laptop Blues” and I agree with many of his comments.

I don’t, however, remember a time when drafting was “simple.” And to suggest that changes should not be made to a design because we have run out of time might be viewed as unprofessional. If changes are being made for the sake of change, then they should be avoided. If they are being made so that the end result is a better project, then they should be made.

What the author suggests is a “loss of artistry” is really just sloppy work habits. It is hardly the fault of the software, which McDonell suggests has provision to control all these aspects of the drawings. I work with many architects and I have no trouble identifying the computer drawings of particular designers based on the artistry of their distinctive computer drafting styles.

To suggest that we “spend one year on the boards” is like suggesting that we should ride to work for a year on a horse. I see little point in acquiring knowledge that will be of no future use. If you suggest that designers should spend one year on a job site so that they would have some understanding of what they were actually designing, I would agree.

Allen Dunsmore, P.Eng.

Dauphin, Manitoba

Tons not tonnes

The article about the Abu Dhabi Trade Center (“Climatic Extremes,” December p. 22) says the chiller plant has “an installed total cooling load of 39 MW (11,200 tonnes).”

Metric cooling capacity is correctly quoted in MW. The inch pound units commonly used in the industry for cooling is “tons,” not tonnes,” and tons are the units most commonly used by the HVAC industry in Canada. A ton of cooling (12,000 Btuh) is the rate of cooling provided by melting one ton (not tonne) of ice over a 24 hour period. 39 MW of cooling is equivalent to 11,200 tons of cooling.

Even in technical publications, metric to inch-pound units and conversions are screwed up. A common conversion problem in American HVAC publications is converting temperature differences. For example, a temperature difference of 10C, i.e. 18F, is often erroneously presented as 50F i.e. it is converted as a temperature rather than as a temperature difference.

I sometimes think technical publications would be better off to use the author’s preferred units and leave the conversions to the reader for two reasons. First, it would ease the life of obsessive-compulsive people like me who must check all units and unit conversion calculations in articles they read. Second, it would prevent less obsessed (or lazy) readers from accepting erroneous conversions.

Bert Phillips, P.Eng

UNIES, Winnipeg

Letters to the editor are welcome. Fax 416.442-2214, e-mail

IN MEMORIUM: Remembering Bob Halsall

By Gerry Granek

I have nostalgic memories of first being introduced to Bob Halsall P.Eng.: his warm handshake, his twinkling eyes, his ever-ready camaraderie.

We didn’t know it then, but we were about to be engulfed by the rising boom — building and tearing down to build higher and bigger, and hopefully even better. With our slide-rules surreptitiously peeking out of their scabbards, we, the musketeers, were ready and eager for action. We didn’t realize our professional midlife happened to coincide with the Romantic Age of the Construction Industry, which was blushingly acknowledged to be “the Engine that drives our Economy!”

Bob’s holistic approach bridged gaps and eliminated obstructions between his discipli
ne and the others in the team. Structure and architecture have a symbiotic bond. This natural affinity does not (yet) easily extend to host the dynamic elements that make the modern building support occupants’ functions. Bob’s visioning extended beyond the specifics of his contractual mandate. He put in the extra effort and foresight to make his structures barrier-free.

Working with Bob on a design team, sitting on a panel, or schmoozing with him at a party, was being at ease and enjoying a memorable experience. He made it easy to eagerly want to be his friend.

Bob, I know I speak for the many clients, your colleagues and co-workers who became your friends: we will miss you.

Gerry Granek, P Eng. (Mechanical)


Robert Halsall, P.Eng., who founded Halsall Engineering of Toronto in 1956, died in November. He was a graduate of the University of Glasgow in civil engineering and served in the Royal Engineers Survey Regiment between 1947-1949. One of Canada’s most respected structural engineers, he won the Sons of Martha Medal from Professional Engineers Ontario and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal. Gerry Granek, P.Eng. was formerly a partner in ECE Group.

BOOKS: First Among Equals: How to Manage a Group of Professionals

By Patrick J. McKenna and David H. Maister, Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 2002.

Review by Barry Lester, P.Eng.

If any of these statements sounds true to you, then buy this book:

“Certain characteristics of professionals…create barriers to them being successful in a group setting.” “Most professionals are trained to be skeptical.” “Professional people are notoriously averse to being managed.”

“The group head (does not have)… ‘position power’ or recognized authority.”

“Highly educated, autonomous, energetic people may respond to being influenced … but resist being managed.”

The underlying concept of McKenna and Maister’s book is that professionals will accept leadership or management, and may even be encouraged to welcome it, provided that it adds value.

The trick then is simple: how to deliver management to a group of professionals in a value-added way? This is the subject of the book.

Each of the first 21 chapters provides simple advice dealing with subjects such as value, relationships, inspiration, coaching, listening, trust, recognition, and so on.

Sounds mushy doesn’t it? But the book ends with some hard-performance indicators that even the best control freaks, and I am one, will enjoy. Measuring performance is also a “value-add” mechanism; and even the most hard-to-manage professional finds value in keeping score.

The final chapter is titled “Why Bother?” A question which many of us have asked repeatedly when faced with the seemingly insurmountable task of managing other professionals. And as the authors state: “Nowhere along the way does anyone emphasize the importance of social, interpersonal and emotional skills in determining our success in professional life. Then the day arrives when we make a terrifying discovery: the world is filled with people.”

This book will help you deal with that discovery. I liked it so much that I bought 26 copies.

Barry Lester, P.Eng. is Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Stantec. He is based in Calgary.

La Closerie starts construction in Montreal

La Closerie, a 16-storey luxury condominium building under construction, is said to be a “linchpin” in the rejuvenation of one of Montreal’s oldest downtown sectors at the corner of Ren Lvesque Boulevard and St-Mathieu Street. Engineers for the $41-million project are L’cuyer D’Aoust (mechanical), Schector Barbacki Shemi (structural), M. Sabban (electrical) and MJM (acoustics). The architect is DCYSM, and the owner is the Tidan Group.

ENVIRONMENT: Cool sounds for HVAC engineers

Researchers at Penn State University’s applied science laboratory have announced proof of concept for a technology that substitutes sound waves for chemical refrigerants like CFCs and HCFCs. Steven Garrett and Matthew Poese developed a compact thermoacoustic chiller that achieved eight degrees below zero. The test system uses a souped-up loudspeaker to generate high amplitude sound energy in air that is converted directly into useful cooling.


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