Canadian Consulting Engineer

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TRANSPORTATION

Bloodvein River Bridge makes history

The first of several First Nations communities that lie east of Lake Winnipeg in northern Manitoba now has a permanent link to the provincial road system.

The opening of the Bloodvein River Bridge in November completes a new all-seasons road between Provincial Route 304 and the Bloodvein First Nation of 1,600 residents. The bridge spans 66 metres across the Bloodvein River and was designed by Dillon Consulting and built by Cyr Construction.

Work on the all-seasons road, known as the Manitoba East Side Transportation Initiative, continues. The road will eventually stretch 156 kilometres north along the lake from PR 304 to reach the Berens River First Nation.

ETHICS

Charbonneau Inquiry’s impact

is profound

After three years the Commission of Inquiry looking into corruption in the Quebec construction industry has ended. On November 14 Justice France Charbonneau thanked her fellow commissioner Renaud Lachance and gave concluding remarks. Their report is due next April. With 66,000 pages of transcript, and 2,800 documents in hand, the commissioners have their work cut out for them.

The 261 days of hearings at the Inquiry were broadcast on television, drawing a large audience who were riveted by the colourful and sometimes dramatic witness testimonies. The evidence pointed to widespread collusion between contractors in the awarding of public projects, illegal political donations to win work, and the infiltration of the construction industry by organized crime. There were stories of wads of cash being passed from hand to hand (so many bills stuffed into one safe that it couldn’t be closed), persuasive trips to the Caribbean, hockey tickets, and clandestine meetings in expensive restaurants. While most of the evidence involved municipal politicians and large construction company owners, engineering firms and engineers were also implicated.

Justice Charbonneau noted that the commission’s role was not to assign criminal liability to anyone, since “This task falls to the courts.” Rather her job now is to establish measures to keep corruption out of the industry in future.

Charbonneau cited the importance of whistleblowers and said they must be protected. And she saluted investigative journalists and said they are important watchdogs.

The impact of the findings on Quebec society has been profound, Charbonneau said. However, she also said that in taking on the enormous task to expose corruption and pursue integrity, Quebecers are being held as an international example, so they can hold their heads high.

Public confidence in Quebec’s institutions must be restored, she said, adding that corruption and collusion is a global phenomenon and is reflected in all spheres of society.

EVENTS

Tall Buildings Council meets in Toronto

On November 5 the Canada Chapter of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) held a breakfast meeting at the University of Toronto with around 90 people attending.

During the panel discussion moderated by David Bannister of WSP, everyone agreed that Toronto had entered a “new paradigm” for residential building, moving from what were 30 or 40 storey buildings, to towers that are 70 and 80 storeys tall.

Despite the soaring profiles, the city’s construction industry tends to stick to its traditional ways of building. Panelist Johann Schumacher, vice-president of development with Oxford Properties, said that if we are to “let architects out of the bag,” new technology needs to be involved. The challenge is that new technology will only be adopted if it makes financial sense.

The meeting heard three short presentations, including Tibor Kokai, P.Eng. of Read Jones Christoffersen who spoke on post-tensioning. In Toronto, the firm has designed Waterpark Place Phase III with a post-tensioned slab that supports two additional floors hung from below. The slab spans 27 metres in both directions and is only 1 metre thick, which Kokai said is “quite impressive.”

STRUCTURES

Canada’s tallest wood building opens

The recently opened Wood Innovations and Design Centre (WIDC) in downtown Prince George, B.C. is the tallest contemporary wood building in North America.

At six storeys plus a mechanical penthouse, the building stands 29.3 metres high. The University of Northern B.C. will occupy the first three floors, including graduate students enrolled in the new master’s programs in wood engineering and science.

The primary structure consists of heavy post and beam construction with built-up cross laminated timber floor panels. The concept is a “dry construction.” Glulam beams, for example, frame into glulam columns using aluminum dovetail connectors, which allow the columns to run continuously from the foundation to the roof.

Consultants include Michael Green Architect, Equilibrium Consulting (structural), B.R. Thorson (code), RDH (building envelope), MMM Group (mechanical, electrical, LEED), Aercoustics (acoustics), CHM (fire safety), Opus Dayton Knight (civil), Geopacific (geotechnical), Inland Technical (commissioning) and PCL Westcoast Constructors.