Canadian Consulting Engineer

Up Front

May 1, 2012
By Canadian Consulting Engineer



VanDusen Botanical Garden Centre tops in B.C.

“The greenest building in Vancouver,” also known as the new VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre, won the B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Engineering Excellence from the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – British Columbia (ACEC-BC).

Structural engineers Fast + Epp won the award for their role on the project, which is targeting Living Building Challenge and LEED Platinum status. Its sustainable features include a green roof, rammed earth walls and natural ventilation. (Cobalt Engineering were the mechanical-electrical engineers, Perkins + Will are the architects.)

The ACEC-BC awards were presented at the Westin Bayshore hotel in Vancouver at the end of March.

Four awards of excellence were given: No. 4 Road Drainage Pump Station, Richmond by Aplin & Martin (municipal category); Harbourside West Pedestrian Overpass, North Vancouver by Hatch Mott MacDonald (transportation); Capilano Cliffwalk, North Vancouver by Morrison Hershfield (natural resources, energy, industry); and Partington Creek, New Watershed Development Planning, Coquitlam by Kerr Wood Leidal (soft engineering).

Awards of merit went to projects by MCW, Asssociated Engineering, CH2M HILL, Golder Associates and McElhanney Consulting.

Chris Newcomb, P.Eng. of McElhanney won the Meritorious Achievement Award for his contributions to engineering, the consulting industry, academia and the community. The Young Consulting Engineer Award went to Mike Homenuke, P.Eng. of Kerr Wood Leidal.


New regime for

Ontario practitioners

Professional Engineers Ontario is preparing to introduce a revamped system of licensing for professional engineers who offer their services to the public.

Under the proposals — which are currently being reviewed by a legislation committee — PEO is introducing engineering seals that will be specific to the engineer’s scope of expertise. There will also be a new standard for delegating work to others and supervising it.

In addition, changes are coming to the Certificate of Authorization (C of A) system. For over 40 years PEO has required firms offering services to the public to obtain a C of A. The association now lists 4,500 holders.

Currently everyone from sole practitioners to large firms pays the same fee for the C of A licence — $375. Under the new regime firms will have to pay an additional $45 for each licensed engineer who provides services under the C of A, and an individual must be declared responsible under the C of A for each discipline in which the firm offers its services. There are 30 possible disciplines.


Canada’s engineering

giant steers along

SNC-Lavalin of Montreal presented its financial results for the first quarter of 2012 on May 3. The company’s net income was $67.1 million, compared to $76.1 million for the same quarter last year.

A few days before, Riadh Ben Aissa, the company’s former executive vice president, was arrested in Switzerland. Ben Aissa was once in charge of many of the company’s extensive projects in Libya and North Africa.

Canada’s largest engineering-construction company has undergone a series of setbacks since Ben Aissa and financial officer Stéphane Roy left the company on February 9. Internal audits found that $56 million had been misallocated to non-existent projects. Reports now say that the money was used to pay agents to secure projects overseas.

Former chief executive officer Pierre Duhaime, ing., retired from the company in March.

SNC’s shares have fallen since the troubles began, but the company continues to announce new contracts. On May 1 it said it had renewed a contract with AltaLink to help deliver transmission lines and substations over the next five years.


Manitoba winner helped during Assiniboine flood emergency

ACEC-Manitoba gave out its annual Awards of Excellence in Consulting Engineering on April 19. The Honourable Steven Fletcher, Minister of State, was at the gala dinner at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

The Keystone Award and an Award of Excellence (infrastructure-transportation category) was presented to KGS Group for their 2011 Assiniboine River Flood Emergency Engineering Project. In 2011 an unprecedented 300-year flood in the Assiniboine River system overwhelmed south-western Manitoba. KGS provided design and site support to help the Manitoba Government and Canadian Forces maintain the integrity of dikes and control structures.

Awards of Excellence went to: AECOM Canada for the Lake St. Martin Emergency Flood Relief Channel Final Design and Construction Management (infrastructure-transportation category); Enermodal Engineering, a member of MMM Group, for the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (buildings); MMM Group for the Pointe du Bois Spillway Replacement Environmental Assessment (environment); and AECOM Canada and KGS Group for the Analysis of Options of Emergency Reduction of Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin.

Awards of Merit went to projects by Dillon Consulting, Hatch, AECOM Canada, KGS Group, and GENIVAR.

Garry Bolton, P.Eng. of SMS Engineering was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Tom Wingrove, P.Eng. of AECOM received the Engineering Action Award as a practising engineer for service to the Canadian engineering community. The Rising Star Award went to Jonathan Epp, P.Eng., of Teshmont.


“One project, one review”

Canada’s Natural Resources Minister, Joe Oliver, announced plans in April to reshape the process for obtaining environmental approvals for projects. The new approach will have a major effect on consulting engineers who help their clients to steer projects through the approval process.

Currently it can take years to obtain a decision and can be costly. The process often involves separate federal and provincial approvals, as well as scores of authorities and departments, including Fisheries and Oceans, and Transport Canada.

The government says it intends to move towards a “one project, one review” system. For many smaller and more standard projects only a provincial assessment will be required — “as long as they meet the requirements under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.”

Decisions on whether a federal environmental assessment is required will have to be made earlier — within 45 days. And there will be new timelines for hearings, e.g. 24 months for panel reviews, and 12 months for standard environmental assessments.

For the first time Ottawa will also require that inspectors follow up on environmental assessments to ensure that any mitigation measures that were stipulated as a condition of the approval are in fact working. If not, project proponents could face penalties of $100,000 to $400,000.

The government intends to reduce the number of agencies involved in assessments from 30 to just three: the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the National Energy Board, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Environmental groups are worried that the government’s efforts to streamline the environmental review process go too far and could compromise the quality of the assessments.

Some critics also wonder how the government will manage to fulfil its mandate to fully consult with First Nations on projects if it is handing over more responsibility to provincial assessors.


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