Canadian Consulting Engineer

News (May 01, 2008)

May 1, 2008
By Canadian Consulting Engineer


Big opportunities at Defence Construction Canada

At the Construct Canada trade show and conference last November, officials from Defence Construction Canada (DCC) were out to recruit potential suppliers for their many construction and environmental projects. It seems there’s a gold mine of work for consultants in a diverse range of fields.

Defence Construction Canada is a crown corporation that provides infrastructure and construction services to the Department of National Defence. The corporation covers everything from cleaning up contaminated military sites in the far north (such as the DEW line), to building embassies (including the new one in Afghanistan), to building roads, airfields, and military housing.

Randy McGee, Regional Director of DCC’s Ontario Region, said the organization is currently awarding approximately 1,800 contracts a year, and last year spent about $52 million on consultants fees.

One major area for which Defence Construction Canada seeks consultant help is in fire and life safety upgrades. “Lots of DND facilities need bringing up to code,” said McGee. He said his organization typically relies on consultants to identify the deficiencies and recommend upgrades, which involve sprinklers, alarms, fire escapes, etc.

The corporation’s contracts are advertised through MERX, SELECT and newspaper advertisements. Companies have to have security clearance, and since this can take months and sometimes years, companies are advised to start the application process as soon as possible. There are two levels: first a designated organization screening, followed by a facility security clearance.

Forms are available at


Hatch and Genivar expand

Hatch is expanding its base in Saskatchewan, opening an office in Saskatoon that will employ 200 people. Tom Reid of the Hatch said the company already works in Saskatchewan in the booming uranium, potash and oil and gas industries. Clients had asked them to establish a permanent base in the province.

GENIVAR of Montreal has acquired EXH Engineering Services of Alberta. Founded in 1991, EXH has 275 employees based in 14 offices across the province. It provides municipal, environmental and material testing services.


Toronto’s subway to reach York University

MMM Group has been awarded a seven year, $100-million contract to perform project management on the Spadina Line subway extension in Toronto. With an estimated cost of $2.63 billion, the project will add six more stations, including one at York University. The project should start in April 2008.


On Guard for Water

The American Society of Civil Engineers has developed a new standard, “Guidelines for the Physical Security of Water Utilities.” Public comments are invited from May 20 through to August 20.


Ontario comes on board over sprinklers

This spring, the Ontario government has been hosting public information sessions and inviting comments on proposals to require sprinklers in new high-rise condominiums and apartment blocks.

Ontario’s move is considered long overdue by many fire protection specialists. The National Building Code of Canada has required sprinklers in new high-rise residences for more than a decade, and most provincial building have followed the NBC’s example. Those in favour believe it’s at least as important to have sprinklers in residential buildings as in commercial buildings, since, for example, fires can occur at night when people are asleep. Between 1997 and 2006, 103 people have died in multi-unit residential building fires in Ontario. Once it has taken into account the public comments, which closed May 1, the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will prepare amendments to the building code. The proposed rules require sprinklers in residential buildings over three stories high, including suites, service areas and common areas like corridors. The rules do not apply to retrofits of existing buildings, only to new buildings. The Ontario Fire Marshal’s website notes that sprinkler systems cost 1-1 1 /2% of the cost of a new home. It also notes that the odds of an accidental discharge causing property damage due to a manufacturing defect are 1 in 16 million.


Let dead cables lie?

The piling up of old, unused cable in HVAC air plenums in buildings can be a fire hazard. Consequently, in 2005, the National Fire Code of Canada began requiring that abandoned optical fibre cables and electrical wires and cables be removed — at least, those with combustible jack-ets and non-metallic raceways. Late last year, Ontario adopted the same rule, and Alberta, B. C. and several other provinces also have the requirement. There are, however, several escape clauses. The cables do not have to be removed “if they are permanently closed by the structure or finish of the building, or if their removal would disturb the structure or finish.” Effectively, then, it seems that “dead” cables could sit until a building has a major retrofit and the walls are ripped down.


Armoury goes up in flames

Fire destroyed two of Canada’s historic structures in the first days of April. In Quebec City, the massive 124-year old Quebec City Armoury was gutted by fire on the night of April 4, despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters. The building was undergoing renovations at the time. The armoury’s suspended wooden ceiling — the oldest of its kind in North America — soon collapsed. However, most of the artifacts, which included the Voltigeurs Regimental flag and documents dating back to the Louis Riel rebellion, were rescued from the building in time. The federal government has pledged to rebuild the armoury, which is located just outside Quebec’s fortified walls. Two days later, fire levelled a 104-year old railway water tower in Glenboro, Manitoba. It was a provincial heritage site and considered the best example of such water towers in the province.


UBC building a living laboratory A $20-million building on the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver is a living laboratory for green technologies. The National Research Council of Canada’s Institute for Fuel Cell Innocodes vation has photovoltaic cells installed in its skylights, roofs and walls.

These PV cells in turn power an electrolyzer, which produces hydrogen that is being tested for use in a fuel cell back-up power system.

The 5-KW solid-oxide fuel cell in the building already provides heat and electricity, and it works in tandem with ground source heat pumps.

Along the entire length of the building is an external distribution piping system that delivers combustible gases to the labs. The external system is safer than an internal system, and it is flexible, allowing for the addition of piping and equipment as required.

The IFCI building is not only a testing ground for integrating new technologies, but also will help in developing appropriate codes and standards.


LEED changes on agenda in June

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is holding its first national summit in Toronto on June 11-12. The council oversees the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system in Canada and certifies 3,000 LEED practitioners.

The summit, to be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, is entitled “Shifting into the Mainstream.” It will include information on how LEED Canada is developing from being a one-time certification given to buildings upon completion, into a tool for assessing a building’s operating performance over its lifetime. There are also moves afoot to streamline and shorten the LEED building certification process.

Speakers at the Tor
onto event include Dr. David Suzuki and Thomas Mueller, president and CEO of the Canada Green Building Council.

Several engineering companies, as well as Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine, are sponsors. They include Morrison Hershfield, Halsall Associates, Jacques Whitford and SNCLavalin. See


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