Canadian Consulting Engineer

News (August 01, 2003)

August 1, 2003
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

WORKWinter Olympics 2010Consulting firms are "very, very happy," that the province won the bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, says Kate Cockerill, executive director of Consulting Engineers of...


Winter Olympics 2010

Consulting firms are “very, very happy,” that the province won the bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, says Kate Cockerill, executive director of Consulting Engineers of British Columbia.

The announcement that the Olympic and Paralympic games will be held in Vancouver and Whistler was made to an ecstatic crowd on July 2 at GM Place, which will be the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies.

An estimated $700 million is slated for building projects, besides multi-million investment in transportation infrastructure, such as improving the narrow “Sea to Sky” highway through the mountains to Whistler.

The Olympic village for the 5,000 athletes is the biggest building project, estimated to cost $167 million and located in the heart of Vancouver on the waterfront at False Creek. Another Olympic village will be constructed for $98 million at Whistler, and there will be $102 million for a Nordic Centre to accommodate the ski events, plus $68 million for a speed skating oval at Simon Fraser University. The long-awaited expansion of the Vancouver Convention Centre on the waterfront is also likely to go ahead. The Bid Corporation promised that sustainability would be a “cornerstone” of the building program.

An Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games “OCOG” will be set up by the fall and put in charge of planning and operating the games.

Cockerill says her organization has made presentations to the Olympic organizers emphasizing that they don’t need to look outside the province to find engineering firms. Many B.C. engineers have experienced in designing alpine Olympic facilities for the Salt Lake City and Calgary Winter Games.


Taking the wind out of Canada’s sails

Dutch engineers and environmentalists braved the SARS crisis June 24 for a conference on Building Sustainability and Energy Efficiency at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto. The conference was sponsored by Environment Canada.

Jan Hesseling, consul general of the Netherlands, explained that the Netherlands is so far ahead in green technologies because they have to be — energy and resources are scarce and expensive, and they are often subject to high government taxes.

Aart Snijders, director of IF Technology of Arnhem, described one renewable energy technology that is making headway in the Netherlands: underground thermal storage systems. The country has many aquifers not far below the ground surface which serve to store the heat or cold energy. About 100 systems have been installed in the Netherlands to date. Snijders said they can save 80% cooling energy and 20% on heat energy. He gave buildings such as the IBM Zoetemeer and Nike offices as examples, as well as the Eindhoven university campus, which is on a utility scale and has 16 cold wells and 16 warm wells.

Jos Beurskens, an electrical engineer with the Netherlands Wind Energy Association, expressed disappointment at Canada’s record with wind energy, noting that we lag behind Europe and the U.S. “That’s a shame,” said Beurskens, “because you have so much space.” Worldwide there is 33,000 MW of wind generation installed, and the industry is expected to grow by 33% in the next six years. Among the latest developments is a Dutch program for the manufacture of small turbines to be installed on top of buildings.


Nukes for Peace

I read your interesting editorial Comment opposing nuclear power (March-April 2003). Although I agree completely with your sentiment, I didnot see you offer an alternative. Even if the alternative is to carry out more research, you should take the issue beyond merely complaining.

I do not have any personal interest in this issue, other than an interest in engineering ethics, but I have always considered the CANDU system, (which was designed with entirely peaceful uses in mind), to be far safer than the U.S. and Russian nuclear plants (which were designed partly to provide nuclear bomb materials as a by-product).

Dr. Gordon C. Andrews, P.Eng.

Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Waterloo, Ont.

Please add my name to the list of engineers against nuclear power. It’s a bad idea for all the reasons stated in your column of the March/April 2003 edition.

Marcel Delph, P.Eng.

Ottawa, Ont.

Editor’s note. See an extensive response to the same editorial written by Morgan Brown posted June 13 at


Niagara Falls tower rising

By George Peers, P.Eng.

Construction is nearing completion at the $800-million Niagara Falls Casino/Gateway project in Ontario. The complex includes a casino, exhibition space and a 1,500 seat live show theatre. It also has a 30-storey hotel tower that was constructed using vertical post-tensioning in the elevator core.

The decision to use that structural method relates to the building’s unusual shape and the location of the elevator core. The architects recommended that the building be L-shaped, a striking departure from the conventional box or rectangular configuration.

Pierre Desautel, P.Eng., senior associate with Yolles, the structural engineering consultant, says the L-shape floor plate was adopted to give views of the falls from both wings of the hotel. Secondly, he says the client wanted to minimize the visual obstruction that the hotel would present to existing or future buildings in the area.

The elevator core — the building spine — is near where the 44 metre long building wings intersect. While the core’s location made sense from a space planning point of view, structurally, its location posed challenges. Gravity loads imposed on the core were unbalanced, causing it to “lean” from the vertical as much as 100 mm if corrective measures were not adopted.

Yolles opted to post-tension the core vertically in order to balance the compressive forces along its axis. Vertical post-tensioning is rare in buildings. “We are not aware of other building cores in Canada being prestressed in this way,” Desautels says.

The hotel, which required 16,000 cubic metres of concrete, is scheduled to open in April 2004. The project team includes architects Zeidler Roberts and Bregman + Hamann. Hidi Rae Associates and The Mitchell Partnership (mechanical) and Mulvey + Banani (electrical).


Diamond dike hailed

Nishi-Khon Engineering and Environmental Services and SNC-Lavalin won the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers’ National Award for Engineering Achievement. The award was given for the construction and design of the Diavik Diamond Mine Dike A154 at Lac de Gras, Northwest Territories.

Ontario steel

Structural engineers whose projects were premiated in Ontario’s Canadian Steel Institute of Steel Construction 2003 awards were Halsall Associates for the Canadore College of Applied Arts and Technology, and Yolles Partnership for the Prince Edward Viaduct Safety Barrier in Toronto. UMA and Holmes/ Narver’s design of the NTB departures level bridge 205 at Pearson Airport received an honourable mention.


Architects embrace engineering technologists

There is a new professional program for authorizing building designers in Ontario. Engineering technologists and architects have collaborated to set up the Ontario Association for Applied Architectural Sciences, known as OAAAS (pronounced “O-tripleA-S”).

Launched in April, the program recognizes three categories of building designer. Two — Associate OAAAS and Technologist OAAAS — are licensed by the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists (OACETT).

The third category is a Technologist licensed by the Ontario Architects Association (OAA). He or she will be able to design and provide general review for projects such as restaurants with up to 100 seats and residential buildings up to four storeys in height.


Explosion detection systems at 90 airports

Marshall Macklin Monaghan of Toronto and a team of consulting engineering firms hav
e been managing the introduction of explosive detection systems at Canadian airports. Besides MMM, the team includes Acres International, BPR Group Conseil, J.L. Richards, api Architect and Pelican Woodcliff.

Run by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), the program was allocated $55.7 million as part of a much larger airport security program that the Canadian government announced shortly after 9/11.

The team of consulting engineers had to prepare the technical guidance materials and specific solutions for pre-board and hold-bag explosives screening. They also helped to coordinate the commissioning process and managed the capital cost and implementation schedules. CATSA is now hiring and training security personnel to manage the systems.

ASHRAE works to make BACNet networks secure

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ BACnet committee has agreed to use a shared-key technology to create “secure networks” within BACnet.

The agreement was made at ASHRAE’s 2003 annual meeting held June 28-July 2. Guidance on creating secure networks would be included through addenda to ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 135-2001, BACnet — a Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks.

The committee’s Network Security Working Group first studied a number of network threats and vulnerabilities, and conducted a survey of standard network security technologies.


The Canadian Water and Wastewater Association has recommended that a national working committee be established to report on how rainwater and grey water could be used in Canada to ensure adequate access to water. It wants the committee to consider modifications to plumbing and building codes, as well as standards.

The Erosion Control Technology Council in the U.S. has announced a standard specification for installing rolled erosion products used to stabilize earth slopes and enhance vegetation. The document can be downloaded from

The compatibility of systems and equipment with BACnet can now be tested with a standard approved for publication by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Its Standard 135.1, Method of Test for Conformance to BACnet, defines the steps to test whether a product or application conforms to the BACnet standard and provides the features claimed by the supplier. The standard was approved for publication at ASHRAE’s 2003 annual meeting in late June.

The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) has released an online learning tool entitled Discover Lighting. The interactive module serves as an introductory course. Visit


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