Canadian Consulting Engineer

Up Front – News

October 1, 2014
By Canadian Consulting Engineer



Big three firms on

spending spree

Canada’s three largest consulting engineering firms — WSP, Stantec and SNC-Lavalin — have completed major acquisitions this summer and early fall, each adding thousands of employees and multiple new offices.

On September 24, Stantec announced it is buying the Canadian operations of Dessau, one of Quebec’s largest consulting engineering firms. The acquisition will give Edmonton-based Stantec a major presence in la belle province, adding 1,300 employees of Dessau to the 70 staff Stantec already has in Montreal.

Stantec president and CEO, Bob Gomes, said: “Over the past two years we believe the opportunities have evolved to a point where we are comfortable and confident in expanding in this market.”

Dessau has a long history in Quebec. It was established in 1957 and has 20 offices in Quebec as well as offices in Mississauga and Ottawa, Ontario. It has large public and private clients, and has won more than 120 awards of excellence, counting 50 just in the last five years. Projects of note include the Honoré-Mercier Hospital Centre and the Montreal Palais des Congrès, and La Pinière Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The company was one of several mentioned during the hearings at the Charbonneau Commission which just concluded. The commission is looking into collusion and corruption in the Quebec construction industry.

Dessau’s president, Isabelle Jodoin, said: “We’re eager to embark on this next stage of evolution for Dessau. Stantec’s mix of services, their culture, and their unwavering commitment to ethical business practices strongly parallel our own, and the increased opportunities for our staff … is exciting.”

Earlier in September, WSP Global of Montreal (formerly known as Genivar) announced that it has an agreement with Balfour Beatty to buy Parsons Brinckerhoff Group. Headquartered in New York City, Parsons Brinckerhoff has 170 offices and 13,500 employees on five continents. WSP says the acquisition expands its presence in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, and enables it to become one of the largest global “pure-play professional services firms” with approximately 31,000 employees worldwide.

Last, but not least, in August, SNC-Lavalin Group of Montreal completed its acquisition of Kentz Corporation for £1.2 billion. Kentz is a U.K.-based corporation with 15,500 employees operating in 36 countries. It does engineering in the oil and gas sector.


Report sheds light on slow hiring of immigrant engineers

The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) released a report on September 10 that identified some reasons why employers are not hiring internationally trained engineers.

Entitled “From the World to the Workforce: Hiring and Recruitment Perceptions of Engineering Employers and Internationally Trained Engineers in Ontario,” the report presents the difficulties being experienced from both sides: employers and immigrant engineers.

The findings are based on an online survey of 167 internationally trained engineers and 77 companies. Over 30 of the companies were also interviewed in person.

The conclusion is that there are “asymmetries or misalignments” between the way employers recruit staff and how internationally trained engineers search for positions.

It was found that only 10% of employers believe job applicants self-assess their language skills accurately. And more than two-thirds of engineering employers reported they have difficulty evaluating the non-Canadian engineering work experience of prospective employees. Companies with fewer than 10 engineers on staff were less likely to hire internationally trained engineers.


Aga Khan development transforms Don Mills

A large Islamic complex opened in September in Don Mills, a postwar residential area of northeast Toronto.

Developed on 6.8-hectares, the complex includes two separate large buildings. The Ismaili Centre, designed by Indian architect Charles Correa, is easily seen on the east, distinguished by its high, cone-shaped glass prayer hall.

To the west, the 10,000-sq.m Aga Khan Museum houses over 1,000 artifacts including portraits, manuscripts and medical texts. Designed by architect Fumihiko Maki, the angular block has a courtyard at the centre with 13-m tall glass walls and a mosaic floor. The building is clad in brilliant white Brazilian granite and faces a reflecting pool.

The design team for both buildings included Moriyama and Teshima, architects; CH2M HILL as structural, The Mitchell Partnership as mechanical, and Crossey as electrical engineers. Vladimir Djurovic designed the gardens.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was at the opening on September 12, along with Mawlana Hazar Imam. The Aga Khan was quoted: “We hope that this museum will contribute to a better understanding of the peoples of Islam in all of their religious, ethnic, linguistic and social diversity.”


New flood protection planned for Lake Manitoba

Public open houses were held this fall in Ashern, Manitoba, to present conceptual designs for new flood management structures on Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin.

After record floods in 2011 the Manitoba Government is looking for ways to control flood levels on the lakes, which lie 100 kilometres to the west and 300 kilometres north of Winnipeg. KGS Group is the prime consulting engineer working on the studies and recommendations.

For Lake Manitoba the recommended option is to construct either a 11.6-km or 22.8-km new channel to connect it north to Lake St. Martin. The work would include a control structure and several bridges.

For Lake St. Martin, the recommendation is to expand and make permanent an emergency outlet channel that was constructed in 2011. The preliminary cost of this work, which would also involve a new control structure, is between $142 million and $212 million.


McElhanney, Associated Engineering

McElhanney of Vancouver has acquired Infinity Engineering. Based in North Vancouver, Infinity is a small firm that specializes in bridge design and erection engineering. It has designed long-span and complex bridge projects in Canada, the U.S. and India.

Associated Engineering has a new vice-president of infrastructure. Chris Skowronski previously served as the division manager of infrastructure for the company’s central Alberta region.

Bert Munro, vice president and general manager of Associated Engineering’s Saskatchewan and Manitoba operations, has won the 2013-2014 Engineer of the Year Award given by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS). Munro has 35 years of experience in municipal, water resources and geotechnical engineering. He is a past president of APEGS, the Western Canada Water and Wastewater Association, and Consulting Engineers of Saskatchewan.


Four TBMs for Eglinton Crosstown LRT

Work is under way on the largest transit expansion project in Toronto’s history — the 19-kilometre Eglinton Crosstown LRT, expected to be completed in 2020.

The line cuts across the centre of Toronto and will stretch from around Keele Street east to Kennedy Avenue. It will have 25 stops and 10 kilometres will be underground in tunnels.

Two tunnel boring machines, “Dennis” and “Lea,” are already burrowing east from Black Creek Drive, while a second set, “Humber” and “Done,” have arrived at the Brentcliffe launch site for tunneling west. All four machines will be extracted around Duplex Avenue near Yonge Street.

A joint venture known as 4-Transit Group consisting of MMM Group, Delcan and Hatch Mott MacDonald is leading the project for Metrolinx. HMM is in charge of the tunneling.


Green bonds for building

Ontario is launching a green bond program, making it the first government in Canada to do so. Green bonds were pioneered by the World Bank in 2008 as a tool to raise capital for environmental projects. The inaugural Ontario issue is expected to be $500 million. It will be used to fund the Eglinton Crosstown LRT in Toronto.


AMEC works on nuclear fusion

AMEC has won a contract to develop and manufacture a prototype panel to protect the core vacuum vessel for the ITER nuclear fusion reactor in Caderache, Southern France. The project aims to show the technical feasibility of nuclear fusion as a power source.


Stealthy wind turbines

Wind turbines can interfere with radar signals, making it difficult to distinguish them from low-flying aircraft. To avoid the problem, EDF Energies’ 96-MW wind farm in Perpignan, France will use Vesta turbines that have a coating similar to those used on stealth fighter jets. The coatings turn radar signals into heat.


ASHRAE eyes E-cigarettes and cannabis

Changes to ASHRAE’s Standard 62.1, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Buildings, are in store. The changes recognize that the existing ventilation rate procedure in its IAQ standard may be difficult to apply in existing buildings.

Also open for public comment is an addendum to revise the definition of environmental tobacco smoke to include emissions from e-cigarettes and from smoking cannabis (now allowed by some jurisdictions).

ASHRAE is also proposing multiple compliance options for verifying the performance of the building envelope under Standard 90.1-2013.


Ontario allows taller wood-frame buildings

Starting January 1, 2015 Ontario’s building code will allow wood frame buildings up to six storeys high. Until now, they were only allowed in buildings up to four storeys. The province will also require that wood frame buildings include stairwells made of non-combustible materials and have roofs that are fire resistant.

Over 50 six-storey wood-frame buildings exist in B.C. since the province changed its building code to allow them in 2009.


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