Canadian Consulting Engineer

Up Front (December 01, 2010)

December 1, 2010
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

STRUCTURESCliffhanger at CapilanoThe Discovery Channel is filming the construction of a new pedestrian walkway known as "the Cliffhanger" close to the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver. The "heart-stopping" walkway...


Cliffhanger at Capilano

The Discovery Channel is filming the construction of a new pedestrian walkway known as “the Cliffhanger” close to the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver. The “heart-stopping” walkway through the rainforest is 0.5 m wide and 215 m long, with cantilevered bridges and stairs protruding from a granite cliff face, set 25 storeys above the Capilano River. The designer is Morrison Hershfield (Kent LaRose). Construction is finishing this December.


Windsor-Essex Parkway designers announced

Hatch Mott MacDonald is the lead design firm for the Windsor-Essex Parkway — a brand new 11-kilometre highway that is being built to connect Highway 401, the main east-west corridor in southern Ontario, to the U.S. border in Michigan. Currently cross-border traffic has to travel through Windsor via Huron Church Road, dealing with 17 stop lights and busy local traffic.

On November 5, the federal and provincial governments announced that the preferred bidder to design, build, finance and maintain the new parkway for 30 years is the Windsor Essex Mobility Group. It includes Acciona, ACS, Dragados and Fluor, with Hatch Mott MacDonald as prime consultant and designer.

The new six-lane highway is said to be “the most significant single highway investment in Ontario’s history,” generating 12,000 jobs. The cost is as yet undetermined, but an earlier estimate was $1.6 billion.

Because of community concerns over traffic noise and pollution, the new road will run below grade in long cut-and-cover sections. There are also extended tunnels and more than 300 acres of green space around the road as a buffer between it and nearby residential areas.

The goal is to start construction in 2011, but first about 900 properties are being expropriated.

Much work went into the planning of both the parkway and its eventual destinations, which will be a new customs plaza in the Brighton Bridge area of Windsor and a new bridge over the Detroit River. URS Canada was the prime consultant for the environmental assessment, known as the Detroit River International Crossing study. The study won a Transportation Association of Canada award this year.


Wood is first in B.C.

The city of Surrey is the latest in B.C. to adopt a “Wood First Policy.” The policy requires that any civic buildings must be constructed using wood, subject to the building code. So far 27 communities and regions have adopted the Wood First policy, including Terrace, Prince George, Kelowna and Port Alberni.


LEED applications made smoother

The U.S. Green Building Council has a new tool for submitting projects for LEED certification. “LEED Automation” is a tool that works with LEED Online and allows it to interact with third party technology platforms. The tool is written using Internet standards like HTTP, XML and Simple Object Access Protocol, and works “like an app.”


$500 billion needed

At the UN in November, a group of investors from around the world who together have assets valued at $15 trillion warned that global investments in clean energy are not enough. While $200 billion is being invested this year, Bloomberg and the World Economic Forum argue that by 2020 roughly $500 billion is needed to keep global warming below 2 degrees.


Enermodal and MMM

Enermodal Engineering, a consulting firm of 100 people, has joined the MMM Group of Toronto. Enermodal is responsible for approximately 40% of all buildings certified under the LEED Canada NC (new construction) program. It was founded in 1980 in Kitchener, Ontario and has offices there and in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton.

MMM and Enermodal are already working together on two large P3 projects.

Stephen Carpenter will continue as president of Enermodal, and Enermodal will maintain its name and its office locations.

Halsall joins Parsons Brinckerhoff

The Halsall Group, a structural engineering company based in Toronto, has joined with the international engineering giant Parsons Brinckerhoff. Peter Halsall, P. Eng., chair of Halsall Group, said: “Our employees increasingly will be able to apply their ideas, practices and innovations to infrastructure as well as buildings.” Founded in 1956, Halsall will continue to operate under its own name. It has 350 employees working in Ontario, Vancouver, Calgary and Dubai. Parsons Brinckerhoff is a division of Balfour Beatty plc.

Tetra Tech acquires BPR

BPR, one of Quebec’s largest consulting engineering firms, with 1,600 employees, has been acquired by Tetra Tech of Pasadena, California. BPR was established almost 50 years ago and provides services in the energy, industry, buildings and infrastructure sectors. Tetra Tech acquired EBA Engineering of Edmonton in August, and Wardrop Engineering of Winnipeg in January 2009. It has 12,000 employees worldwide, 3,000 in Canada.


New National Building Code released

On November 29, the NRC/IRC Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes was set to release the new 2010 national model construction codes — the first new edition since 2005. The codes consist of the National Building Code of Canada (NBC), the National Fire Code of Canada, and the National Plumbing Code of Canada.

Some 800 technical changes have been made in the 2010 version of the NBC. In Part 4, Structural Design, for example, there are stricter requirements for live loads in sports arenas, grandstands and stadia that have fixed seats with backs. As well, these live load requirements have been extended to include churches, lecture halls and theatres.

In Part 6, Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning, there are new requirements for building ventilation related to maximum levels of particulate matter, ground-level ozone and carbon monoxide.

Changes in the 2010 National Fire Code (NFC) affect demolition and construction sites. Adjacent buildings must now be protected from fires, and the requirements for access by the fire department have been improved.

To draw a clear line between the roles of the National Building Code and National Fire Code, technical requirements that relate to building design have been moved from the NFC into the NBC.

Webinars will be given in February to provide more information and help. In the meantime, the codes are available at


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