Canadian Consulting Engineer

Up Front (August 01, 2010)

August 1, 2010
By Canadian Consulting Engineer



Ismaili Centre under way in Toronto

Heavy earth movers are busy carving out a large open site west of the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto to build a new prayer and cultural centre for Toronto’s Ismaili Muslims. The official launch of the huge project on a 7-hectare site off Wynford Drive in Don Mills (close to Canadian Consulting Engineer’s offices) was held in May, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and His Royal Highness the Aga Khan in attendance.

The project involves two major structures linked by gardens. The site also has underground parking and a utility plant.

One of the buildings, the 7,430-m2 Ismaili Centre designed by Indian architect Charles Correa is dominated by a large circular prayer hall that has a glass cone roof that will radiate light at night. Behind the prayer hall is a two-storey social hall with a large slanted glass skylight and a roof terrace with views down onto the gardens.

Ismaili centres are being built around the world, the Toronto project being the second in Canada (one was established in Burnaby, B.C. in 1985). The written handout on the Toronto building project says that Ismaili Centres “endeavour to share Islam’s values of peace, humanity and the shared responsibility for advancing the common good with the broader community in the countries in which they are located.”

The second building, the 6,040-m2 Aga Khan Museum, will have exhibition spaces dedicated to Muslim arts and culture, as well as a library, classrooms, and a 350-seat auditorium for cultural events and conferences. The museum’s designer is Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki.

The park, which is to be open to the public, incorporates Islamic formal gardens with reflecting pools and walkways, but also elements suited to Toronto’s winter climate.

The team of local designers on the project includes Halcrow Yolles (structural); Delcan (civil); The Mitchell Partnership (mechanical), and Crossey Engineering (electrical). Local architects are Moriyama and Teshima. Imara is the project developer.


Lansdowne goes ahead

Ottawa’s city council has decided to go ahead in partnership with a private developer to redevelop Lansdowne Park, a 37-acre parcel adjacent to the historic Rideau Canal and a few blocks south of Parliament Hill. For over 100 years the site has been home to the Central Canada Exhibition.

Plans are to overhaul the 1960s-era Frank Clair Stadium and build retail and residential buildings around a piazza facing the historic Aberdeen Pavilion.


Engineering shortage B.C.

B.C.’s Labour Market Outlook predicts that engineering jobs will increase by 26% in the province over the next 10 years. However, at the same time, the number of engineers seeking work will increase by only 21%. BC Stats reports that unemployment among civil, mechanical, electrical and chemical engineers was 7.1% in 2009.

Come, First Nations

Engineers Canada has signed an agreement with the Assembly of First Nations to encourage First Nations youth to pursue careers in engineering. The agreement was signed in July in Winnipeg. Aboriginal youth aged between 15 and 30 are the fastest growing population group in Canada.


New sails on Canada Place

The white sail roof on Canada Place in Vancouver is being replaced after more than 20 years in service.

Completed for Expo 86, Canada Place is a convention centre and

cruise ship terminal on the waterfront in the city’s downtown. It lies to the east of the new convention centre expansion that was recently completed for the Winter Olympics.

Birdair and Geiger Engineers are working on dismantling the 27-metre high roof and replacing it with a Sheerfill fabric roof. Ledcor is the contractor.

The new sail fabric is an oatmeal colour but will be bleached by the sun to a brilliant white — a process that takes place over a year. The new roof material is self-cleaning: the sun’s UV rays create a chemical reaction with the fabric that results in the decomposition of stains through oxidation.

The $21-million project is being funded by Canada’s Federal Infrastructure Action Plan.


Woman reaches top at ASHRAE

For the first time in history, the venerable American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has elected a female president: Lynn G. Bellenger, P.E. is a partner with Pathfinder Engineers & Architects of Rochester, New York.


Where’s the contract?

Too many consulting engineers are still doing work for clients without having formal contracts with them, according to reports from the insurance company ENCON Group at the ACEC Annual Summit in St. Andrewsby- the Sea, New Brunswick on June 24.

Derek Holloway, senior vice-president with Encon, said that 70% of professional liability claims against consulting engineers are from clients, and 40% of those claims relate to projects that don’t have contracts. The problem, then, for the insurer and lawyers defending the consulting engineer is that they can’t verify what the scope of work was. Holloway also explained that in 63% of claims cases, the consulting engineer ends up paying only the defence costs — not the damages. In other words, the consultant is not found to be liable, but was embroiled in the litigation simply by being a player in the construction project.

Encon urges consultants to have contracts with their client “even on small projects,” and recommends using the ACEC Guide 31.

And in an effort to reduce litigation, the insurer is launching a new online training tool. It is intended to train people in good project management practices and includes interactive screens, scenarios, and a quiz.


J.L. Richards wins top Ontario award

Consulting Engineers of Ontario gave its annual awards on June 10 following the association’s annual meeting in Huntsville, Ontario. The top award, called the Willis Chipman Award, went to J.L. Richards & Associates for its role in upgrading the Ravensview Wastewater Treatment Plant in Kingston, Ontario. The project involved adding BAF (biological aerated filters) technology and increasing the plant’s capacity by 30%.

For companies with 1 to 25 employees, an award of excellence went to Quad Engineering for “Hot Rolling of Titanium Ingots.” For firms with 26 to 100 employees, an award of excellence went to DST Consulting Engineers for “Green Ground Improvement of a Brownfield in Thunder Bay.” For firms with 101+ employees, an award of excellence went to Dillon Consulting for the Walker Road CPR Grade Separation, Windsor.


Mergers and People

Stantec has signed a letter of intent to acquire WilsonMiller, a multi-disciplinary engineering firm in Naples, Florida. It has 10 offices and 265 employees.

Morrison Hershfield and Sikon Infrastructure signed a memorandum of understanding with the Mtis Nation British Columbia on June 25. The intention is to encourage collaboration in business and economic opportunities.

Genivar has acquired Terrain Group, a company of 150 people based in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta. Terrain specializes in municipal, surveying, transportation and environmental services.

Rosaire Sauriol, ing., vice-president principal of Dessau, has become the 2010-11 president of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Quebec (AICQ).


New Western Canada trade agreement

A new trade agreement between B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan came into effect July 1, 2010. It will be full implemented in Saskatchewan on July 1, 2013.

The “New West Partnership Trade Agreement” is similar to TILMA (the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement) that has existed between B.C. and Alberta since 2006.

The new agreement
means that consultants will be entitled to work on projects in any of the three provinces, that all tenders will be posted on a common electronic tendering system, and that public clients have to use an open and transparent system for procuring their engineering services over a certain dollar value threshold.


The BBC has hit hard at Canada’s asbestos industry in a report “Dangers in the Dust” that was aired around the world this summer. The report said that Canada sent nearly 153,000 tonnes of chrysotile — white asbestos — to other countries in 2009. The chrysotile went to countries like India, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates, where asbestos is still used as a building material.


Lighthouses on offer

The Canadian government has declared that 976 lighthouses across Canada are surplus property, including landmarks like Peggy’s Cove lighthouse in Nova Scotia (below). Fisheries and Oceans Canada says

that the surplus lighthouses are those that “could be replaced with simpler structures whose operation and maintenance would be more cost-effective.” The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act allows the surplus lighthouses to be transferred to new owners who will conserve their heritage status.


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