Canadian Consulting Engineer

What’s new… (March 01, 2006)

March 1, 2006
By Canadian Consulting Engineer



Vancouver is hopping

B.C.’s building boom has been topped up to extend past 2010 by Premier Gordon Campbell’s announcement of a $3-billion Gateway transportation plan to unclog the Greater Vancouver main highways. Public consultation and the design process is expected to carry on into the Winter Olympics, with construction to begin early in the new decade.

The Gateway mega-project has four main elements: the $800 million twinning of the Port Mann bridge which will allow rapid transit across the congested artery, plus another $500 million for widening Highway 1 east to Langley to facilitate a HOV lane; $400 million for the North Fraser Perimeter road which will connect harbour and waterfront traffic with bridges; $800 million for the South Fraser Perimeter road which will serve the same function; finally $180 million for a new Pitt River bridge and Mary Hill interchange, of which the federal government has pledged $90 million to date. The Gateway program also allocates $50 million for the construction of a cycle lane within the plan. Smaller projects account for the remainder of the budget.

If the Port Mann twinning becomes a public-private-partnership “P3” project, it will join a growing roster of such deals the province has inked or completed. Translink is in charge of the Golden Ears Bridge, which will span the Fraser River to connect Maple Ridge with Langley and Surrey. Construction starts in spring 2006, with the Golden Crossing Group doing the design, build, finance, maintenance and road networks rehabilitation. Buckland & Taylor is a member of the Golden Crossing Group along with a score of other companies, including consulting engineers CH2M Hill, AMEC, McElhanney, Trow, PBA and GD Hamilton. The projected cost for the bridge, which is to open June 2009 with an electronic toll system, is $800 million.

Last June, the province announced a P3 deal with SNC-Lavalin to design, build, finance and operate the new $144.5 million William R. Bennett Bridge (a non-toll bridge) in Kelowna, also to open in 2009. Buckland & Taylor is the lead designer.

The $615 million Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre expansion is under way on Vancouver’s waterfront. Tripling space in the existing centre, the project will be complete in 2008 and will serve as the media centre during the Winter Olympics.

There is also the Sea-to-Sky Highway expansion, Ravco’s $1.9 billion transit line connecting Vancouver International Airport and Richmond with downtown Vancouver. As for Olympic venues, Olympic committee VANOC has requested another $110 million from provincial and federal governments to top up the previous construction figure of $470 million.

— By Jean Sorensen


Eight Alberta projects win awards of excellence

Consulting Engineers of Alberta announced the results of its 2006 Showcase Awards at its celebration evening held in Edmonton on February 3.

The “Treasure Chest of Talent,” (the theme of the evening was pirates and gypsies, complete with guests invited to don suitable renegade attire), included eight Awards of Excellence and 11 Awards of Merit.

Awards of Excellence went to the following: Turtle Mountain Monitoring Project at Crowsnest Pass by AMEC Earth and Environmental (studies, software and special projects category); Wellness Program by Associated Engineering (community outreach, in-house initiative); Gold Bar Wastewater Treatment Plant Industrial Water Re-use, City of Edmonton by Associated Engineering (natural resources, mining, industrial); Highway 2 South Innisfail Interchange by ISL Infrastructure Systems, Al-Terra Engineering, BPTEC-DNW Engineering (project management); City of Calgary Water Centre by Stantec Consulting (building engineering); Combined Lateral Sewer Upgrading Strategy for City of Edmonton by Stantec Consulting (water resources/energy production); Sustainable Landfill Bio-Cell, Shepard Waste Management Facility, Calgary by Stantec Consulting (environmental); Southeast Anthony Henday Drive in Edmonton, Design, Build, Finance, Operate by UMA Engineering (transportation infrastructure).

The team of 20 judges included Peter Watson, P.Eng., Deputy Minister of Alberta Environment, and Dwane Willmer, P.Eng., Regional Director of professional and technical services with Public Works and Government Services Canada.


New Toronto waterfront community needs flood protection

Toronto’s dreary waterfront east of the downtown is starting to see long-promised new development. Work to prepare a 32-hectare site known as the West Don Lands has begun. It will be the site of a community of 6,000 residences, schools, offices, a recreation centre and parks.

The lands run south of King Street next to the recently developed historic Gooderham and Worts Distillery District. Industrial buildings are being demolished and environmental remediation has to take place.

Another major part of the preparatory work is providing a flood barrier, since the land lies in a floodplain that would be endangered in the event of a storm the size of Hurricane Hazel.

The strategy is to construct a wide, low-lying berm and to widen the CN Kingston rail bridge. Work is to begin this summer. Engineering firms involved in the flood protection scheme include Dillon Consulting, Acres International, URS Canada, Envision/Hough Group, FIScH Engineering, Parish Geomorphic and Greenberg Consultants.

The urban design team for the lands includes Earth Tech Canada, LEA Consulting, GHK International, DuToit Allsopp Hiller and Urban Design Associates.

The development is one of a dozen new initiatives strung along the city’s waterfront being done under the auspices of the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation, an agency of the city, province and federal government. The new developments include parks and sports facilities. Already under construction, for example, is the Western Beaches Watercourse, west of the city’s core.


U.S. calls halt to PFOAs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has suddenly called a ban on the production of perfluororoctanoic acid, or PFOA. The substance is used in making non-stick and non-stain coatings like Teflon and is a suspected carcinogen.

On January 25, the EPA asked eight manufacturers to reduce PFOA emissions by 95 per cent by 2010 and to stop emitting the sustance altogether by 2015. The call is seen as a surprising victory for environmentalists who have long been petitioning the EPA to ban the chemical.


Renovation study for Alberta Legislature

A committee has been formed by the Alberta government to consider improvements to the Alberta Legislature Building and its 57-acre site in the centre of Edmonton. One possibility is that the annex housing MLAs’ offices will be torn down while leaving in place the historical centrepiece which dates from 1912.

ASHRAE goes greener

How to make its own building a living laboratory of sustainable building design is the quest of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The organization moved its headquarters from New York to Atlanta in 1981. Ashrae will work towards the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED gold rating.

Lay down your guns

SNC-Lavalin has sold its ammunitions manufacturing company, SNC Technologies. The wholly-owned subsidiary makes small, medium and large calibre ammunition and produces training systems for clients such as the Department of National Defence and police agencies. General Dynamics is buying SNC Technologies for $315 million.


Signals turn savings

Traffic lights along Manitoba’s provincial highways are being converted to LED
technology. The conversion is being implemented at 134 intersections, with half of them already completed. The $455,000 should save Manitobans $152,000 per year in energy savings.

Compare salaries

The 2005/2006 Consulting Engineers Compensation Survey has been released by Western Compensation and Benefits Consultants in Vancouver. The data is based on input from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and covers 41 engineering, technical, executive and other positions. The data is segmented by location, revenues, number of employees and number of branches. See or tel. 604-683-9155.

Seismic dance

A Californian engineering software company, Computers & Structures, has commissioned a new ballet called “Earthquake” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. The disaster levelled 25,000 buildings and destroyed 490 city blocks. Earthquake is being performed at the Yerba Buna Center for the Arts in San Francisco in April.


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