Canadian Consulting Engineer

What’s New… (June 01, 2007)

June 1, 2007
By Canadian Consulting Engineer


Montreal Metro goes to Laval

An extension to the Montreal Metro’s Line 2 was officially opened at the end of April. The transit rail line now goes out to the suburb of Laval, north of the city, and has three new stations: Cartier, Montmorency and De La Concorde.

SNC-Lavalin (Charles Chebl, P.Eng.) led the SGTM consortium in charge of the engineering, procurement and construction management of the massive project, which took five years and cost $803 million. It involved digging a 5.2 kilometre tunnel in difficult conditions under a river, using explosive and roadheader machine methods. It also involved building eight auxiliary structures, bus stations and parking lots and an underground garage and workshop.

Other firms in the SGTM consortium were Tecsult, and MBGF (Municonsult, Bisson Fortin, Giasson Farregut, Martin Marcotte).

Quebec Premier Jean Charest was one of the dignitaries at the official opening, which was marred by union protests at Montmorency Station, and the death of an employee from a heart attack on the scene.

Each train on the system requires 4.5 MW of power, run on two dedicated 25 kV lanes. There are 19 pumps (10,000 gpm) for dewatering the tunnels, and a ventilation system of 1,200,000 cfm capacity.


B.C. engineers hope to ease worries

Engineers in B.C. are hoping to persuade the provincial government to change the “ultimate limitation period.” The period is the window of time in which an individual can be sued for damages resulting from a problem in a building or other project they designed.

Consulting Engineers of B.C., the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C., together with the associations representing architects and chartered accountants, have drawn up a position paper to present to the province’s Attorney General. The professional groups want the ultimate limitation period reduced from 30 years to 10 years. A 10-year ultimate limitation period would bring B.C. into line with Alberta, helping to promote intermobility for professionals between the two provinces. (The removal of barriers to the movement of labour between Alberta and B.C. is the goal of their TILMA agreement, which became effective on April 1.) Ontario and Saskatchewan have reduced their ultimate limitation period to 15 years.

The B.C. associations argue that a 30-year ultimate limitation period is unfair. They point out that witnesses’ memories fade over decades and documents become lost. Their paper also points out that currently professionals have to carry expensive liability insurance well into their retirement just in case a lawsuit over a past project should arise.

The professional associations also want any new legislation to spell outclearly what triggers the ultimate limitation period. They argue that it should begin running from the time the wrongful act was actually done, not from the time a problem is discovered. In the case of construction, that means the period would begin from when the project is substantially complete. They are hoping that legislation to reduce the period to 10 years will be introduced into the provincial legislature by the spring of 2008. The position paper is available at


Moving the Don River mouth

A consortium known as MVVA has won an international competition to reconfigure the Lower Don Lands on Toronto’s waterfront. The lands are a brownfield area east of the downtown core. Plans include relocating the Don River’s mouth from the Keating Channel.

The MVVA team is led by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and includes Totten Sims Hubicki and Associates, Greenberg Consultants, Phillips Farevaag Smellenberg, Behnisch Architects, Limno-Tech, Applied Ecological Services, Great Eastern Ecology, Transsolar, RFR Engineering and Arup.


Canadian heads World Green Building Council

Kevin Hydes, P.Eng., an editorial advisor to Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine, has been appointed chair of the World Green Building Council.

Hydes has long been active in the field of sustainability in Canada, co-founding the Canada Green Building Council. He is the outgoing chairman of the United States Green Building Council.

Now based in Montreal, Hydes is also vice-president of building engineering for sustainable design with Stantec. (He was a principal of Keen Engineering before it became part of Stantec.) At Stantec, Hydes leads a team of more than 800 professionals, including 300 people accredited by LEED.

The World Green Building Council is a global union of national green building councils. Their goal is the transformation of the global property industry. Hydes succeeds Che Wall as chair.


Moving lots of earth in Winnipeg

The immense construction going on around Winnipeg reached a milestone in April. Manitoba Premier Gary Doer and Transport Canada announced that work so far on expanding the Red River Floodway has brought it to a capacity to contain a 1-in-300 year flood. That capacity is equivalent to the largest flood in Manitoba’s history, which occurred in 1826.

The other great flood that occurred 10 years ago spurred the expansion project, which is costing $665 million and currently employs about 1,000 people.

Since September 2005, excavations have been carried out to enlarge 65% of the floodway channel, or about 30 kilometres. Eight million cubic metres of earth have been moved. There are also many other components to the overall project, including structures and crossings. The Trans-Canada Highway East Bridge, for example, has been upgraded to withstand a 1-in-700 year flood by UMA Engineering (Bruce Biglow, P.Eng., Mike Lau, P.Eng.).

TPG Pritchard Machine was recently awarded a $5.8 million contract to undertake the mechanical, hydraulic and electrical upgrades of the inlet control structure. Over the summer, the Manitoba Floodway Authority is planning to issue tenders for the outlet control structure.

The list of consulting engineers designing and managing the floodway expansion includes KGS Group, Dillon Consulting, UMA Group, ND Lea, Wardrop, SNC-Lavalin, Acres Manitoba, Earth Tech, Ashykum Engineering, Ininew Project Management, First Canadian Engineers and Barnes and Duncan Land Surveyors and Geomatics.


Longer cable-stayed bridges

A new cable-stayed bridge cradle system is being hailed as a “revolutionary innovation” by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The system was given the 2007 Charles Pankow Award for Innovation from ASCE on April 25 in Washington.

According to ASCE, the cradle technology allows for longer, simpler and longer lasting bridges, as well as bridges that are easier to inspect.

Among its characteristics, the cradle allows “all strands to run parallel from the anchor at deck level through the cradle and back to deck level as primary tensile elements.” ASCE also notes that the cradle isolates strands in individual steel tubes, where they do not impact adjacent strands.

The system was created by FIGG Bridge Engineers and was initially developed for the Ohio Department of Transportation’s 1-280 Veterans’ Glass City Skyway. It has also been used in the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory in Maine.


Engineering Leadership Forum seeks grand vision

Six engineering organizations in Canada have joined together to form the Canadian Engineering Leadership Forum. The organizations are the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE), Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineers, the Engineering Institute of Canada, National Council of Deans of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Canadian Federa
tion of Engineering Students. The organizations signed a memorandum of understanding last year, and are now discussing hosting an engineering summit to discuss developing a common vision for the profession.

According to Marie Lemay, P.Eng., chief executive officer of CCPE, the alliance between the organizations is a “landmark initiative.” In Engenuity, the newsletter of New Brunswick engineers, she writes: “The Forum is an information-sharing body, not a decision-making body. Our focus is on what we can do as a group to come up with a grand vision for the profession over the next 30 years, with the objectives of both enhancing the profession itself and better responding to the needs of Canada as a whole.”


Watch your head!

A 140-kilogram marble tile fell from the 54th floor of First Canadian Place in downtown Toronto on May 14. The tile fell onto a roof below and no-one was hurt. However, the area had to be sealed off for days while engineers investigated. First Canadian Place was built in 1975, and is Canada’s tallest skyscraper at 298 metres and 72 storeys.


Acquisitions and a gift

* Jacques Whitford based in Saint John, New Brunswick has acquired North American Wetland Engineering (NAWE) and its affiliate EcoCheck. The purchased companies have 25 employees based in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

* Sandwell Engineering has opened an office in Mumbai, India. The Vancouver-based company has had a presence in India for 55 years, beginning in the pulp and paper industry.

* SNC-Lavalin has acquired Aqua Terre Solutions, a 15-year old specialized environmental consulting practice based in Ottawa, with offices in Toronto, Calgary and Saskatoon, and 110 employees in total. Another firm recently acquired by SNC-Lavalin is Capital Engineering Inc., located in Chicago.

* Stantec donated $50,000 to Water for People to mark National Drinking Water Week in early May.


Cables 25 times faster

A new cable technology called “channel bonding” was shown for the first time in Las Vegas in May. It allows data to be downloaded at 150 MB a second, 25 times faster than standard cable modems. The technology bonds four cable lines together and is known by the specification DOCSIS 3.0. In a demonstration, the 32-volume Encyclopaedia Britannica 2007 and Merriam-Webster’s visual dictionary were downloaded in less than four minutes. A standard modem would take over three hours to do the same thing.


Awards for Montgomery, Lighthall

Dr. C. James Montgomery of Cohos Evamy was presented with the 2007 Centennial Leadership Award from the Association of Professional Engineers, Geophysicists and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGGA) in Calgary on April 27.

Peter Lighthall, P.Eng. of AMEC in B.C. was presented with the Canadian Pacific Railway Engineering Medal in March. It is the highest honour from the Engineering Institute of Canada.


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