Canadian Consulting Engineer


October 1, 2000
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Skyscrapers still go upVancouver's Wall Centre Sheraton Tower is the only building in Canada featured in "Skyscrapers: the New Millennium," an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago on until Janua...

Skyscrapers still go up

Vancouver’s Wall Centre Sheraton Tower is the only building in Canada featured in “Skyscrapers: the New Millennium,” an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago on until January. However, among the 70 recent towers in the show, there are several overseas designed by Canadian consulting engineers and architects. They include the Canada Square tower in Canary Wharf, London (Yolles Partnership structural engineer/Cesar Pelli), and the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and China Insurance Building in Shanghai, China (Quinn Dressel/ WZMH). The Wall Centre (Glotman Simpson, structural engineers, Busby + Associates architects) is under construction and due to be finished next year.


Ontario takes quick action post-Walkerton

The Ontario Government has moved quickly to impose stricter regulations for water treatment and distribution following the Walkerton contamination debacle in this spring. By August, Ontario had implemented “Operation Clean Water,” imposing new disinfection and testing rules, and requiring that professional engineers review all municipal systems by next May and every three years after. The government is also allocating $240 million from its infrastructure budget for municipalities to upgrade their facilities. The funds will be administered through the SuperBuild Corporation.

There is ample proof that the water infrastructure is in a bad state of repair. Initial inspections in August found deficiencies in 169 facilities out of 294 examined.

In one of its first public statements, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers declared its support for the government’s action. A press release quoted board member Robert A. Goodings, P.Eng., formerly of Gore & Storrie, who said “Over the years we’ve seen a steady reduction in professional engineering involvement in the ongoing monitoring and assessment of waterworks infrastructure in Ontario….Municipalities relying on groundwater systems are particularly at risk from seepage of contaminated surface water into the well system due to deteriorating infrastructure. These systems cannot be neglected.”


World’s highest pipeline

A small Calgary company, Hydroconsult EN3 Services, is responsible for the world’s highest gas line, in the Andes Mountains in South America. The firm, headed by principal Vim Veldman, P.Eng., has spent four years designing, building and now helping to operate the Gas Atacama pipeline from Argentina to the Chilean coast. The line reaches an elevation of 5,032 metres as it crosses the mountains. Long stretches of the pipe are located in river beds at the bottom of deep valleys, and large gabions (wire mesh and stones) over 9 metres across and 23 kilometres long were designed to protect the pipeline from being disturbed by backhoes and other heavy equipment operated by local gravel diggers.


Covered bridge

The last historic covered bridge in Ontario has been rehabilitated by Giffels of Toronto. Crossing the Grand River in West Montrose, near Elmira, Ontario, the 120-year old bridge has been restored so that the modern materials are concealed below the roadway. The visible timbers and details are made according to the original designs. The local Mennonite community was involved, volunteering 25 people to rebuild the wooden deck and working under the supervision of Ted Brumfitt, P.Eng., Giffels’ structural engineer and project manager. The 60-metre long bridge is part of the Trans Canada Trail and was officially reopened in August to coincide with the arrival of participants in the 2000 Trans Canada Relay event.

Calatrava designs at Ryerson

The celebrated Spanish architect/engineer Santiago Calatrava is designing a new Centre for Computing and Engineering at Ryerson Polytechnic University in downtown Toronto. Calatrava is famous for his extraordinarily lyrical and complex engineering designs, including bridges, railway stations, airports, museums and alterations to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. Previous projects in Toronto include the soaring BCE Place Galleria and the Mimico Creek Bridge (with Delcan). The new engineering complex is part of a $100 million campus expansion at Ryerson.


Female support

The Canadian Council of Professional Engineers has announced a new award, “For the support of Women in the Engineering Profession.” Nominations for the 2001 Canadian Engineers’ Awards (seven categories in all) are due by January 8, 2001. Call (613) 323-2474/


New design-build document risky for engineers

Re. Design-build contract documents and ACEC’s position (letters from Barry Lester, P.Eng., p. 9 and Timothy I. Page, ACEC Review, p. 15, June-July).

What we are seeing is the evolution of ways and means to deliver complex projects by teams of skilled people and firms. Where at one time the architects saw themselves as master builders, the engineers their servants, and the builders providing the labour, this is no longer the case.

Mr. Lester wants the engineer to be the “owner’s consultant.” Is this always in the owner’s best interest? A consulting engineer may be paid by the owner, but he is not the owner’s servant. Engineers are not lawyers. CCA 14 wants the design engineers to take on risk for which they usually have no training or resources.

If there are up to 256 ways to deliver projects, and they all involve owners, architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, vendors and manufacturers, how can one contract form cover all the permutations and combinations? And, we should not forget supplementary general conditions are always added by the owner’s legal counsel.

A design-build contract format must be such that no supplementaries could ever be added. It must reflect a total project team approach. If this CCA 14 does not indeed reflect this condition, it should be revised, as stated by [ACEC President] Mr. Page.

George Suhanic P.Eng.

Suhanic Project Management, Toronto

Dark Age ahead?

I was shocked by the outgoing ACEC Chair’s Report (John Boyd, P.Eng., June-July, p.12). To imply that the primary attributes of a so-called renaissance engineer would be mastery of the web and finance is frightening to this writer.

Far from being a renaissance, this line of thinking will herald a dark age where profit and style are more important than creative and intellectual content.

Patricia Brown

John A. Charnock & Associates Consulting Engineers, Mississauga, Ont.

Write to the Editor by e-mail:, or regular mail: CCE, 1450 Don Mills Rd., Toronto, Ontario, M3B 2X7.

Young engineers look elsewhere

The article “Missing Persons, Generation X and the War for Talent” (August-September, p. 22) shows a problem we are facing right now. We have to hire young graduates but there are only a few available. Last year at the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal only six students took the electro-technical specialization.

One reason of the actual shortage of young engineers to work as designers in consulting firms is the orientation to information technologies.

I read also the article on the ground source heat pumps (by Gordon Shymko, P.Eng., p. 54). The author made a very good overview of the technology.

Laurier Nichols, ing.

Dessau-Soprin, Montreal

xx ellie – extra copy


The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is proposing a new Standard 62.2P which recommends that all residential buildings of three or less storeys have mechanical ventilation systems in order to achieve acceptable indoor air quality. Public reviews are to end this October.

Surviving on Dot.Com island

Carried away with the summer’s television bonanza series Survivor, an internet site for architects, engineers and contractors launched its own version of the game. Visitors to the site voted to kick software pr
ograms they did not like off the AEC Dot Com Island. AEC Dot Com Survivor ran for only two-and-a half weeks before it was halted mid-game. No doubt software manufacturers felt vulnerable, though the site’s instigator insisted it was “not due to any pressure.”


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