Canadian Consulting Engineer

What’s New… (December 01, 2004)

BUILDINGS...

December 1, 2004  Canadian Consulting Engineer

BUILDINGS

Vancouver Convention Centre expansion begins

Work finally began in November on excavations for the expansion to the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre. First proposed in 1995, the project was debated for years, with several sites being considered. The chosen downtown site faces Burrard Inlet, immediately west of the existing building and covering an area the size of four city blocks.

The $500-million project will more than triple the convention centre area to 47,900 square metres, adding exhibition, meeting and ballroom space. A raft of consulting engineers is involved, including Glotman Simpson (structural), Earth Tech (structural), Keen (mechanical), Schenke/ Bawol (electrical), Golder (geotechnical), Sandwell (civil), Morrison Hershfield (building envelope), EBA (environmental) and Westmar (marine). The architects on the project are LMN, Musson Cattell Mackey and Downs Archambault.

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Immediately south of the convention centre expansion, Vancouver’s latest tall building is nearing completion. The Shaw Tower is a slender 40 stories, tapering to the top and with a silvery curtainwall. It has 16 floors of offices and 24 floors of live/work condominiums. Consultants include: Keen (mechanical); Arnold Nemetz (electrical), Trow (geotechnical) and Locke MacKinnon Domingo Gibson (code). James K. Cheng is the architect.

ENVIRONMENT

Commissioner has harsh words for Canada’s performance

Canada is making pious promises about the environment, but government officials are not producing results, said Johanne Gelinas, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, in her 2004 report.

As a result, the country has slipped even further down the ranks in terms of its environmental status and reputation compared to other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Canada’s performance was downgraded from an “already disappointing” 12th place in 2002, noted the commissioner, to 16th in 2003.

Gelinas found that some departments had made no serious efforts to apply environmental directives issued a decade ago. She cited “systematic weakness in defining and delivering on environmental objectives.” And she criticized senior officials for not using well-known environmental assessment tools that could help them mould policies and measure results.

Even where departments had made improvements, there were still severe shortcomings. She noted, for example, that the Canadian International Development Agency gives only limited environmental guidance on 90% of its projects. As for the remaining 10% of projects, which fall under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, measuring their sustainability: “was treated as a paper exercise rather than an effective project planning tool.”

She found it troubling that Canada is not following the example of other OECD countries that use “green taxation” as a tool to push business towards a sustainable economy. She cites Prime Minister Paul Martin himself: “Sustainable development cannot be only a pious wish … it must be a fundamental pillar underlying the nature of economic growth.” But Gelinas says we need more than good intentions: “As many before have pointed out, this will require profound shifts from business as usual.”

With the exception of two international agreements where results are being reported and measured — the Montreal Protocol and the Ozone Annex of the Canada-US. Air Quality Agreement — Gelinas says there is a real lack of accountability. “One of my ongoing frustrations as Commissioner,” she said, “is the difficulty we face in finding information on actual outcomes of the programs and activities we audit. Are federal environmental and sustainable development initiatives achieving their intended results? Are they fixing the problems they were meant to solve or promoting the positive changes intended?”

WASTEWATER

Controlling combined sewer overflows in Niagara Falls

Associated Engineering is prime consultant for a project in Canada’s honeymoon capital to alleviate sewage flowing into the Niagara River. The downtown tourist district of Niagara Falls, Ontario is currently serviced by a combined sanitary and storm sewer that releases overflows about 30 times a year during storms. To comply with Ontario Ministry of the Environment regulations, the municipality has to capture 90% of the wet weather flow and remove carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand and suspended solids in the overflow.

As a solution, Associated Engineering’s St. Catharines office has designed a new central pump station and high rate treatment facility using large vortex separators. Project manager Geoff Burn. P.Eng. says the technology has not been used at this scale much before in North America. The separators will be 13 metres diameter. The plant will have two units, each with 2,000 litres per second hydraulic capacity and 1,000 litres per second treatment capacity. Tenders should go out in the spring of 2005. Other consultants on the project include Brown & Caldwell, XCG Consultants, Acres International and Questor Veritas.

ENVIRONMENT

Ontario to protect a million acres

The Ontario government has tabled far-reaching legislation to allow it to protect a broad swath of land and restrict urban development in southern Ontario.

Bill 135, the proposed Greenbelt Act, will authorize the government to designate a greenbelt area and establish a plan to permanently protect it. The area stretches around Toronto from Rice Lake in the east to the Niagara peninsula in the west, adding a million new acres to the 800,000 acres already protected in the Oak Ridges Moraine and Niagara Escarpment.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Storm exposes Nova Scotia power grid

Premier John Hamm called for an independent review of Nova Scotia Power’s transmission network following the storm in mid-November that left 100,000 customers without electricity. Heavy snow and 90-kilometre an hour winds crumpled transmission towers, evoking memories of the Quebec Ice Storm in 1998.

SNC-Lavalin to do RAV

In November, Translink announced it had chosen a proposal by SNC-Lavalin and Serco for the $1.5-billion Richmond-Airport-Vancouver transit line project. They will design, build, partially finance and operate the 19-kilometre route. It will be a fully automated system, with underground sections downtown. AMEC was part of the unsuccessful bidding team.

NOTES

It explains those typos!

A study at Cornell University has found a correlation between office temperature and worker efficiency. Dr. Alan Hedge, a professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, found a 74% increase in typing mistakes and a 46% reduction in typing output when office temperatures fell from 77 degrees F to 68 degrees F.

Fire Codes into Chinese

An agreement was signed this fall between the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in the U.S. and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security to have 26 NFPA codes and standards translated into Chinese. It’s hoped the codes will be used to prepare sites for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

PEO eases way for immigrants

Professional Engineers Ontario has received $2 million from the Ontario government to develop an interactive internet portal to improve access to licensure for international engineering graduates.

AWARDS

Steel awards in Alberta and B.C.

The Canadian Institute of Steel Construction’s Alberta and B.C. regional chapters have announced 2004 award winners. The winner in Alberta’s structural category is Diavik Diamond Mines’ Raw Ore Material Sizer constructed in the Northwest Territories, with SNC-Lavalin as the structural engineer. The Calgary Public Library designed b
y Cohos Evamy Partnership as architect and structural engineer won in the architectural category.

In the B.C. Region awards, the winner in the architectural category was the city of Vancouver’s National Avenue Yard Works designed by Omicron Consulting Group as architect, structural engineer and general contractor. The $23-million facility is the city’s new engineering operations centre.

White Rock wins with ASHRAE

Keen Engineering’s White Rock Operations Centre in B.C. has won the Chapter and Region award for design innovation from the American Association of Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). (See CCE, August-September 2003).

COMPANIES

RWDI in U.K.

Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin (RWDI) consulting engineers of Guelph, Ontario have a new joint venture United Kingdom company called RWDI-Anemos. The office is located in Hemel Hempstead near London and brings together some of the U.K.’s leading wind engineering consultants.

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