Canadian Consulting Engineer

News (July 01, 2003)

July 1, 2003
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

AWARDSQuebec celebrates consulting firms and clientsFor the first time ever, consulting engineers in Quebec and Ontario held their own awards programs this spring. Consulting engineering associations ...


Quebec celebrates consulting firms and clients

For the first time ever, consulting engineers in Quebec and Ontario held their own awards programs this spring. Consulting engineering associations in the western provinces have had awards programs for several years.

The Association des ingnieurs-conseils du Qubec (AICQ) celebrated their winners at the Montreal Science Centre on March 27. The awards were given to the client and engineering firm jointly, recognizing the value of these partnerships. The jury, led by Paul Saint-Jacques, president of the Montreal Convention Centre, chose eight winners from 27 entries.

The winners were: Pasquin St-Jean & associs and Ivanhoe Cambridge, for the Eaton Centre-Ville renovations (buildings); Cegertec Experts-conseils and Alcan Primary Metals for the Centrale Isle-Maligne et poste 161 kV modification (energy); SNC-Lavalin and Public Works and Government Services Canada for the St. Ours migratory pass (environment); AMEC E & C Services and Solvay Paperboard for the Solvay Paperboard Machine and Paper No. 3 (industry); SNC-Lavalin and Les ponts Jacques-Cartier et Champlain, for the replacement of the Jacques Cartier Bridge deck (transportation); CIMA + and City of Longueuil for the Vincent-d’Indy Park, (urban infrastructure); SNC-Lavalin and Mozal S.A.R.L. for the Mozal Aluminum Smelter I (international); Genivar and the Ministry of Transport of Quebec for the Information Evaluation of the Montreal Region Road Network (telecommunications and new technologies).

The “Lonard Hommage” personal award was given to Bernard Lamarre, ing. in recognition of his contribution to consulting engineering and the profession.

Size matters in Ontario

Consulting Engineers of Ontario chose to take an unusual approach in their first annual awards. They divided the entries into categories according to the size of the firm. Don Ingram, P.Eng., former president of CEO, led the judging panel, which had 26 entries to consider. Though CEO had hoped to encourage small firms to enter, the majority of entries came in the large firm category.

The winners were celebrated during the association’s annual meeting held at the Nottawasaga Inn, near Alliston, Ontario on May 23.

Winner of the top award, named the Willis Chipman Award after a 19th-century water systems engineer, was Acres International for the Decomissioning of the Distress and Finlayson Dams on the Big East River near Algonquin Park. The project is the first documented case of a Canadian dam decomissioned according to a planned process that included giving attention to environmental impacts.

In the small firm category (1-16 employees), an award of excellence went to Cyril J. Demeyere for site improvements at the Lake Margaret Estates in St. Thomas, Ontario. A merit award went to Eramosa Engineering for the SCADA system at W.A. Bill Johnson Biosolids Management Centre, Halton Region.

In the medium-sized firm category (16-50 employees) an award of excellence went to Keen Engineering for the Microsoft Canadian Headquarters. Another award of excellence went to MTE Consultants for the Waterloo Region Emergency Services Training & Research Complex.

In the large firm category (more than 50 employees) an award of excellence went to CH2M Hill Canada for the Tony Agnello Water Filtration Plant in Parry Sound. A merit award went to Earth Tech Canada for the Ashbridges Bay Biosolids Loading and Odour Control Facility in Toronto.


What’s under there?

Giffels, an Ingenium Group company, is consulting engineer on the remediation of the 260-hectare Downsview site at the north of Toronto.

The former World War II Canadian Forces Base is being transformed by Public Works and Government Services Canada into a park. The government has determined the land will be held in perpetuity for all Canadians as recreational space. The site north of Sheppard Avenue West was the main gathering space during World Youth Day and the Pope’s visit last summer.

Cleaning up the large brownfield site has been a massive undertaking. Like many air force bases in operation over the past 60 years, Downsview had allowed contaminants to reach soil and groundwater. Working in the record cold winter just past, with the ground frozen sometimes one metre deep, Giffels field staff collected over 500 soil samples. Excavations were conducted around five buildings, former incinerators, a central heating plant, petroleum storage areas, demolished buildings and a residential park.

The biggest surprise was the discovery of a completely intact wastewater treatment plant buried two metres underground. The wastewater treatment plant was complete with a pump house, concrete aeration tanks and clarifiers with heavily reinforced concrete walls.

In total over 27,000 tonnes of impacted soils had to be removed from the former base. Another 10,000 tonnes of backfill was saved for reshaping into a skating rink and ponds.

The last contaminated load was removed in February, making way for the development of the park over the next 15 years. Eventually the site will have meadows, playing fields, gardens and a forest.


The Fast and the Furious

By Paul H. Boge, P. Eng.

In March the British Columbia government finally auctioned off its infamous fleet of three fast ferries.

Instead of successfully carrying passengers to and from Vancouver Island, the PacifiCats have instead sunk in an ocean of cost overruns. The initial cost of each catamaran was estimated at $70 million, but the final capital cost ballooned to $467 million for the three. They were sold for a total of $20 million — representing a dismal tax payer return on investment of –95%.

Conceptually, the fast ferries were a good idea. But there was just one problem.

They didn’t work.

In his 1999 review of the Fast Ferry Program to the Crown Corporations Secretariat, Hugh A Gordon cited key reasons for the financial debacle. “The original budget was significantly flawed in that it was completed without adequate information … detailed engineering drawings were not complete at the outset of production.” Gordon also remarked on one of the constructability issues: “The midsection of the vessel was assembled first with the bow and stern following as opposed to the more efficient approach of constructing the vessel from one end to the other.”

While the ferries were originally heralded as being a viable solution to shorten travel time between the mainland and the island, doubts were raised before and after construction about their performance capabilities. There were questions about their higher consumption of fuel per passenger-trip compared to the operating ferries; their water jet propulsion intakes being susceptible to logs; their wake causing damage to marinas; their incapacity to transport large trucks; and their inability to operate effectively at higher speeds.

But the fast ferry project did not capsize because of technical questions. According to the B.C. Auditor General, it was also an example of mismanagement. In his 2000 review of the Fast Ferry Project, British Columbia Auditor General George L. Morfitt pointed out two key problems. First, “The governance structure was complex, with many people and groups involved. The decision to undertake the fast ferry project was not properly supported, and people were not informed when things began to go wrong.”

The second problem concerned project management. “Construction of the fast ferries started before the scope, schedule and budget for the ships was firmly established,” Morfitt wrote. “Indeed, these critical elements of ship construction were not managed in a disciplined way throughout the project… Having to carry out a project in a hurry is not an excuse to ignore good project management.”

BC Ferries is now being replaced with a new, independent organization called BC Ferry Services. It is hoped that the new company will borrow the $2 billion required to upgrade facilities and replace an ageing fleet of ships.

Paul H. Boge is an engineer with Boge & Boge in W

Footnote: The ferries were sold to Washington Marine Group, a U.S.-based company that built them.


Posh digs for A.D. Williams

A.D. Williams Engineering has moved into new headquarters to mark its 25th Anniversary. The firm’s new offices are in the renovated Edmonton Club, which has expansive views over the city’s river valley. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein was at the opening festivities in May. A.D. Williams is a multi-disciplinary firm with offices in Edmonton, Calgary and Yellowknife. Current projects include the Tiffany & Co. diamond polishing facility in Yellowknife, and the Bell West Alberta Supernet telecommunications project.

Stantec buys Guelph environmental firm

Stantec of Edmonton bought ESG International of Guelph, Ontario at the end of May. ESG has 90 employees and has been working internationally since the mid-1970s. It specializes in impact assessment, ecotoxicity testing and other environmental technologies. Erven Mackintosh, chairman and chief executive officer at ESG, continues as a vice president of Stantec.

Stantec now has 350 of its total 3,500 employees in the environmental sector in the U.S. and Canada. It recently announced record first quarter earnings of $108.4 million compared to $84.6 million in the same quarter of 2002.


Provincial associations unite on discipline

The professional engineering associations across Canada have united to enforce discipline actions and uphold their regulations. The 12 engineering licensing bodies from the provinces and territories signed a memorandum of agreement at the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers’ (CCPE) annual general meeting in Calgary on May 24.

“Increasingly in Canada, engineers are licensed and practising in more than one province or territory,” said Marie Lemay, P.Eng., chief executive officer of CCPE. “This agreement addresses the need for consistent discipline and enforcement activities among the engineering licensing bodies and will foster cooperation when they see the need to take joint action.”

Though the CCPE press release does not mention Microsoft, the decision of the provincial associations to join forces could well relate to their dispute with the computer giant. Microsoft has refused to back down on its practice of issuing graduates from the company’s training courses a certificate as “Microsoft Engineers.” The professional associations protect the title “engineer” by law as designating individuals licensed and qualified with the requisite university training and experience. By presenting a united front they will most likely be in a better position to take legal action and successfully prosecute individuals who hold themselves out as Microsoft “engineers.”


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