Page 1


February 2008


VOL. 4 NO. 2

Survey says... Top CEOs in Canada’s construction industry are confident in their sector’s growth heading into 2008. Story on page 3

Taking it to the streets Our annual look at the strength of the road building industry across Atlantic Canada. Story on page 9

Return trip


Nova Scotia takes a new look at public-private partnerships, despite wide-spread dissatisfaction with earlier attempts. This time it’s looking to follow British Columbia’s model of strategic infrastructure partnerships. Story on page 17

DEPARTMENTS CONSTRUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 LANDSCAPING IN ATLANTIC CANADA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY NEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 TRANSPORTATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

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Marco has established itself as one of the leading project managers and general contractors in the region, especially in the hyper competitive retail sector. The new University of Prince Edward Island School of Business (above) is just one of its high profile projects. See the full story on page 8.

February 2008 | THE AC&TJ | Construction

ACTJ Briefs Construction projects abound in Pictou County Transcontinental Media There's quite a bit of construction work taking place throughout Pictou County. Almost every sector is represented, from big box retail stores to hospitality. WearWell Garments in Stellarton is one company in the middle of a large construction project. It's an expansion, located behind WearWell's current location on Acadia Avenue. Sterling MacLean, president of WearWell Garments, says the development will give the company more space and fit some of the needs it has in accommodating new technologies. The exterior of the tilt-up building should be complete in the early spring. But WearWell is only one of many projects taking place. Some, such as the highway twinning between New Glasgow and Antigonish, are visible, but ongoing. Others, such as a new Canadian Tire store to replace its current location at the Highland Square Mall, are well underway. A roundup of some other construction projects of note follows: • Holiday Inn Express _ Lawrence Boulevard, Stellarton; commercial business park; $10 million; 123 rooms; finish date: June 2008. • Canadian Tire _ $12.5 million; renovating former Wal-Mart location to 47,000 sq.ft.; finish date: Spring 2008; APM Construction is expected to turn the proj-

ect over in February 2008, with a final completion date in the spring. • Proudfoot's Home Hardware _ Near the Pictou Rotary; 12,000 square feet of retail with 4,300 square foot warehouse attached; finish date: early 2008; Higgins Construction are finishing the retail portion and interior. • Special needs accommodation _ Riverton; $19 million; expected to include a new wing at the Riverview Home Corp. Adult Residential Centre and three smaller community homes in the area. The News Fredericton to begin work at sports complex site The City of Fredericton has received the green light to begin drilling on the site of the southside sports complex. Core drilling to determine where to lay the foundation was delayed over concerns about wetlands protection. Community services chair, Councillor Bruce Grandy, says the provincial Environment Department has given the OK for work to proceed on the condition the city builds culverts or bridges to protect the wetlands. The price tag for the extra work could top $150,000. Once core drilling is assessed, the architect will draw up plans for the sportsplex to be submitted to the Environment Department for further approval. The southside sports complex will be named in honour of Fredericton-born NHL star Danny Grant.

Infrastructure losing ground in Truro By Jason Malloy Transcontinental Media

ruro’s budget for capital construction needs an infusion of cash to correct deteriorating infrastructure such as roads and waterlines, says councilor Sharron Byers. “Drive on some of our collector or main arterial streets and you’ll find terrible, deteriorated conditions,” she says. “We’d better start catching up because we’re just going behind in our infrastructure, as far as I’m concerned, by doing patchwork.” She says in some cases that may mean a piece of a street or half a street is repaired. “That’s ridiculous.” It’s a similar story across Canada. This week, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) released a report entitled, “Danger Ahead: The Coming Collapse of Canada’s Municipal Infrastructure,” which states $123 billion is needed to fix crumbling infrastructure. “If we don’t act soon as a nation to tackle this deficit, we will see more catastrophic failures,” says President Gord Steeves. The report was based on 85 responses to 166 questionnaires sent to municipalities. The federal government has announced a $33 billion, seven-year “Building Canada” plan to help fund infrastructure renewal in cities and towns. Truro has been saddled by capital repair costs during the past few years, including the civic building, former town hall and fire hall. It’s now looking at the Nor-


mal College, Colchester Legion Stadium and Colchester-East Hants Public Library. “The problem has been with council over the years, even though we have a record of what should be addressed, other things tend to get in the way,” says Mayor Bill Mills, who points to the 2011 Canada Winter Games bid and the need for a civic centre as examples. As projects get pushed back, costs escalate. The FCM’s report says the costs of fixing the problems have doubled in the past four years. Byers says the money to address the town’s infrastructure could come from increased tax revenue from ballooning construction permits. “What we have to start doing is reallocating that back to our infrastructure,” she says. Colchester Mayor Mike Smith says the county started addressing the issue a decade ago and has been putting money in a municipal infrastructure program. “What they’re trying to deal with now we dealt with 10 years ago,” he says. “We’re organized with how we set the priorities and every year we’re spending a significant amount on infrastructure.” To try and reach that point, Truro has Andrew MacKinnon preparing a game plan. The Town’s director of public works says his department is doing an extensive report looking at the community’s infrastructure. “We’re going out and rating the asphalt condition and sidewalk concrete condition for every block in town,” he says. Truro Daily News

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Construction | THE AC&TJ | February 2008


Construction CEOs bullish for business growth onstruction industry CEOs from around the world are more confident about the future of their companies than their peers in other industries, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) 11th Annual Global CEO Survey. A striking 94 per cent say they’re confident of achieving revenue growth over the next 12 months and 56 per cent of these are even more bullish, saying they’re very confident about growth. “The CEO survey results reinforce what we’re seeing with our clients in the Canadian construction sector. It’s still a boom time for construction, despite recent uncertainty in the financial markets,” says Dean Mullett, Canadian Leader Automotive and Industrial Products. “We’ve got a number of drivers for growth in Canada, mostly in the non-residential space and in the Western provinces


that ties in to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and oil sands construction in Alberta.” Surveys from the Canadian Construction Association echo the CEOs’ confidence with data suggesting the non-residential sector, including building and engineering construction, saw a growth of 7.9 per cent in 2007 and forecasts an additional five per cent in 2008. According to the PwC survey, though, construction leaders did identify threats to potential growth. More than half view the scarcity of natural resources as challenge and the same proportion are concerned about the security of the supply chain. Nearly three-quarters are worried that a lack of availability of key skills could threaten future business growth. This undoubtedly reflects skill shortages unique to the sector and con-

Rideau’s N.B., N.S. offices purchased by Bird ideau Construction is selling its Nova Scotia and New Brunswick operations to Bird Construction Income Fund (TSX:BDT), a leading national general contractor with offices in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Seattle. With the acquisition of Rideau, Bird has operations from coast-to-coast. With offices in Halifax, N.S. and Saint John, N.B., Rideau Construction operates a general contracting business with clients in the institutional, commercial and light industrial markets. “The sale of Rideau to Bird was a natural fit,” says Rideau president, Jim Brennan. “Our companies share similar values in our approach to business _ a commitment to quality and to conducting business with the highest levels of professionalism and integrity. We are proud Rideau’s strong reputation in Atlantic Canada will be carried forward by an organization we so highly respect.” Both Bird and Rideau believe this acquisi-


tion is good news for their employees, clients, subcontractors and suppliers, as it will expand the knowledge base to several hundred employees and enable the company to pursue larger projects in Atlantic Canada. “With the combination of Bird’s capacity and Rideau’s exceptional reputation, we’re confident we can offer Atlantic Canadian clients a general contractor option that’s unprecedented in this region,” says Bird’s Chair and CEO, Paul Charette. “We’re incredibly excited about the potential the future holds.” The Nova Scotia and New Brunswick operations of Rideau will become the Atlantic branches of Bird, with Rideau’s key principals and managers staying on to lead Bird’s new Atlantic operations. Jim Brennan will assume the role of Vice-President, Atlantic; Ian Boyd will serve as Nova Scotia Branch Manager and Durck deWinter will serve as New Brunswick Branch Manager. Bird’s purchase of Rideau closed on February 1, 2008.

cern over the ability of specialist contractors to deliver. Construction CEOs are ready to take action to ensure they have access to employees with the right skills. Respondents in this sector are more likely to consider acquiring other companies to obtain critical expertise as an effective means of addressing talent shortages _ more than half (52 per cent) cite this strategy, compared to 42 per cent of CEOs across all industries. Almost half of construction CEOs say they’re planning a cross-border merger or acquisition in the next 12 months. A focus on people issues is a key factor for success in periods of strategic change, such as a merger or acquisition. Construction CEOs believe management needs to devote more time to ensuring these factors are adequately addressed _ less than half (44 per cent) agree management spends enough time on people issues during such periods of strategic change, compared with 60 per cent of executives overall.

The built environment in many developed countries contributes substantially to carbon emissions, often representing close to 50 per cent of all emissions. The potential for improvement is significant and will surely create many opportunities for the industry. “Canada has seen sustainable construction practices escalate in the commercial and residential construction industry as more consumers demand environmentally friendly building practices,” Mullett says. In terms of sustainable construction, CEOs report a noticeably more optimistic view of climate change than their peers _ more than half say climate change will benefit their business economically, compared to only 28 per cent of CEOs across all other industries. PricewaterhouseCoopers ( provides industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its clients and their stakeholders.

It’s still a boom time for construction, despite recent uncertainty in the financial markets.”

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February 2008 | THE AC&TJ | Construction | Landscape

Green design increasing in importance By Jennifer Smith Transcontinental Media

arol Goodwin, chair of Landscape Nova Scotia’s Awards of Excellence Committee, says some companies are way ahead in the environmental assessment game and some are farther behind. It was encouraging, she says, to see a number of Construction Association members attend this year’s awards, and the quality of the projects submitted to the Landscape Awards was bet-


ter this year than any other. Landscape Nova Scotia’s Horticultural Trades Association announced its 2007 Awards of Excellence on November 29, 2007. The Landscape awards are based on written submissions and photography. Judges for the awards look at both design and instillation _ and one of the things they’re looking for on both sides is environmental awareness, says Goodwin. “There are people out there with green interests,” says Goodwin. “The industry is paying attention, learning what they need to know and

applying it _ it’s coming along quickly.” It’s not always simple; proper root zones for vegetation, runoff considerations and saving the natural landscape all need to be considered. Material choices matter too _ although Goodwin says they aren’t part of the judging criteria just yet. Goodwin hopes the Landscape Awards raises awareness of environmental issues and sets the bar for other companies. “Right now there’s a low recognition of the importance of green spaces to the quality of

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life you have where you live. Green spaces remove pollutants from the air, provide shade and provide storm water mitigation, for example. All of this should be part of a well-designed landscape.” One way to make this happen, says Goodwin, is to bring landscapers in at earlier stages of the project. Often the whole landscape has already been destroyed by the time they get there. One landscape designer who did get in on the ground level is Clinton Pinks of CBCL, winner of the 2007 Garden Design Specialty Award for his work on the Salter’s Gate project, better known as the new Courtyard Marriott Hotel on Lower Water Street. Pinks worked with installers at Clintar (winners of the Commercial Instillation Over $25,000 award for the same project) right from the start of the project. Pinks is also a member of the board of Directors for Landscape Nova Scotia. Pinks is careful not to call the Marriott courtyard a “green” design, but did incorporate some environmental elements into his plans. Some of the original trees on the site were saved and shrubs, ivy and flowers were planted to give the space more vegetation. Ultimately though, says Pinks, it’s about creating the best design possible for the space, considering its uses and location. The original design called for a red brick plaza and grassy hills, similar to a golf course. This evolved into unit pavers and raised planters, (continued on page 6)

Landscape | Construction | THE AC&TJ | February 2008


Unique horticulture therapy program wins award B y C h r i s t e n e L e Va t t e Highland Landscapes

his past November, Highland Landscapes for Lifestyle was the recipient of the Landscape Nova Scotia 2007 Landscape Award of Excellence for Community Involvement. Typically, this award is given to community-based landscape projects such as children’s playgrounds, park features and the like. Highland’s award winning submission showcased a unique program – specifically the Horticulture Therapy program at Sydney’s Harbourstone Enhanced Care Facility, a Shannex Inc. property. Horticulture Therapy is defined as: “the use of plants and gardening activities as vehicles in professionally conducted programs in therapy and rehabilitation.” The fact of the matter is there are few formal horticulture therapy programs in Atlantic Canada and there are several reasons for this. What our industry terms as ÅeHorticulture Therapy’ is typically carried out by other health care professionals of varying positions within a staffed facility and this involvement is quite often directly proportional to their personal interest in gardening. Health Care facility management sometimes associates indoor horticulture activity as a potential maintenance liability or they simply don’t have the appropriate space, either indoors or outdoors.


Landscaping in Atlantic Canada

The evolution of the program at Harbourstone started simply. Highland, facility grounds maintenance contractor since 2002, was approached by Bill Chiasson in October 2006 to see if we could pull together some kind of gardening activity during the winter months for the residents of the facility. With Amanda MacInnis, BAHK, BSc. Rec, C.T.R.S. – the Recreational Therapist on staff at Harbourstone Enhanced Care Facility – as our staff contact, Highland’s lead gardener Susan English modestly began what has become an expanding year-round Horticulture Therapy Program. Because there are both indoor and outdoor spaces assigned, Harbourstone is able to offer residents diverse and engaging seasonal horticulture activities and – more impor-

tantly – maintain the momentum and consistency needed to really deliver benefits to the residents who call Harbourstone home. Harbourstone has two enclosed gardens for resident use. These gardens once stood idle, used only by the occasional smoker. Now, the gardens are used in the spirit that Gordon Ratcliffe, the original site landscaper,

had intended. As a horticulturist and landscape designer, it’s especially gratifying to see landscape horticulture contribute in such an intimate way to a person’s wellness. It’s especially satisfying professionally to work with the facility management team in Sydney who appreciates the (continued on page 6)


February 2008 | THE AC&TJ | Construction | Landscape

Landscape Nova Scotia profiles best projects in 07 andscape Nova Scotia Horticultural Trades Association (LNSHTA) announced this year’s Awards of Excellence Landscape and Design winners at a Gala held at the Citadel Hotel in Halifax on November 29. This marks the ninth year for the program, which saw 16 submissions profiling some of the professional landscape projects being designed and built throughout Nova Scotia.


“Through the support of our sponsors and our membership, our Association is able to promote our industry and craftsmanship at events like the Awards of Excellence Gala,” says Carol Goodwin, chair of LNSHTA’s Awards of Excellence Committee. The provincial Awards of Excellence program continues to see a great commitment from sponsors and industry partners. Landscape Nova Scotia recognizes and thanks its 2007 supporters: Shaw Brick, Nova Scotia Power Inc., John Deere, Planters Equipment, the Atlantic Construction and Transportation Journal, Nova Tree Company Inc., Atlantic Tractor and Equipment Ltd., Bobcat Atlantic, Bell and Grant, The Investment Guild and HortProtect. “More and more we’re seeing a renewed emphasis being placed on the creation of outdoor living spaces and the public is looking for sustainable and quality workmanship,” Goodwin says. “Our members are designing and building solid and unique projects that help their clients enjoy the beauty and serenity provided by gardens, landscapes and greenspace areas.” Goodwin notes the projects profiled in this year’s competition ranged from small projects to a high-end commercial and residential installations. “The quality of the projects entered into the 2007 competition was superb,” Good-

Landscaping in Atlantic Canada

win says. “We saw submissions that integrated the built landscape and natural surroundings; all key to creating landscapes that have long-term functionality.” The projects were judged in a number of areas, varying from Landscape Design/Build to Landscape Installation to Landscape Maintenance. “Judging projects from the design phase through to installation is really only a piece of the process,” Goodwin says. “The longterm sustainability of the projects, the choice of materials used in the plan and the maintenance delivered after construction are equally as important and are what define those that win in the Award categories,” she adds. Winners of the 2007 awards include: • Maintenance Residential over $5, 000: Down to Earth Gardening & Landscaping, Wolfville;

• Design Build Residential under $10, 000: Groundcover Landscape Services, Halifax; • Design Build Residential over $10, 000: Earth-Craft Landscape Ltd., Bedford; • Design Build Commercial under $25, 000: Down to Earth Gardening & Landscaping, Wolfville; • Residential Installation under $10, 000: Down to Earth Gardening & Landscaping, Wolfville; • Residential Installation over $10, 000: Groundcover Landscape Services, Halifax; • Commercial Installation over $25, 000: Clintar Groundskeeping Services, Dartmouth; • Community Involvement: Highland Landscapes for Lifestyle, Sydney; • Wood Installation Specialty Award: Clintar Groundskeeping Services, Dartmouth; • Garden Design Specialty Award: CBCL limited, Halifax; • Aquascaping Specialty Award: EarthCraft Landscape Ltd., Bedford; • Environmental Stewardship Specialty Award: Down to Earth Gardening & Landscaping, Wolfville; • Right Tree Right Place Specialty Award: Down to Earth Gardening & Landscaping, Wolfville; • ICP/SRW Specialty Award: Macinnis Landscape Design & Construction Services, Falmouth.

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(continued on page 6) using cleaner lines and creating a far more urban design than originally intended. “The idea behind the design was to bring people in off the sidewalk and make it seem like an inviting, traditional public space. The sidewalk opens up into the centre plaza and invites users into the space,” says Pinks. “There’s great deal of informal seating inside along the walls, which encourages people to stop and spend time there.” Though Pinks is curious to see how the vegetation fills out, he says he wouldn’t change anything. “It has a heritage look, but stands on its own,” says Pinks. “It’s a very functional design for downtown.” For a complete list of the 2007 Awards of Excellence winners, visit

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(continued on page 5) grounds and, furthermore, enables active programmed use of the grounds by the residents. Sydney’s Harbourstone is a state-of-the-art enhanced care facility for the aged, who benefit from an original landscape plan that includes dedicated resident green space via the east and west enclosed gardens. We’ve been privileged to work with MacInnis, who agreed to wade in and expand the definition of therapy with her full support and enthusiasm. This program is about landscape horticulture for sure, but more importantly it’s about delivering a level of care, engaging and exciting people, and providing tangible yet intangible Åegreen’ benefits _ not only to the diverse group of residents that join in twice weekly, but also to the property grounds, balconies, great rooms and residents rooms. Essentially, Highland accepted the Landscape Nova Scotia 2007 Landscape Award of Excellence for Community Involvement on behalf of Shannex Inc.; Gordon Ratcliffe, LA; Amanda MacInnis; and Susan English. We thank you. Christene LeVatte, CLP is a landscape designer for Highland Landscapes for Lifestyle of Sydney, Cape Breton

Construction | THE AC&TJ | February 2008


New construction trends pay off on bottom line hether it’s finding new ways to ensure your construction project is greenfriendly, reinforce your project’s structure or simply save costs, it’s wise to stay up to date on new innovations in the field of construction. After all, you want to benefit from the latest technology and creative thinking in the industry. A good start is to check to see if there are any new methods or materials available that could improve your finished product. Some of the key areas to consider are: sustainable construction practices, insulation, roofing and/or innovative use of new materials. At the same time, it’s important to be cautious when assessing the viability of these practices. After all, they also have to conform to established standards and codes. The industry tends to be conservative, but that’s because there are certain advantages to using traditional methods. It may be easier to convince your client to use more commonly used methods that meet official standards. As well, it’s easier to be at ease when on familiar territory; however, this can also mean shying away from innovative techniques because proven techniques involve less risk of legal action.


What’s Out There Now Although there’s a little more risk involved in using construction practices that aren’t necessarily tried-and-true, they may also pay off. You could reduce costs, design a more user-friendly building or make your own contribution to protecting the environment. These innovations evolve quickly with time, but here are some of the most common trends: 1. Sustainable Construction Practices Particularly important are practices that reflect today’s environmental standards. It’s essential you design your project with these practices in mind right from the beginning. For example, you might consider improving ventilation to benefit from energy savings. Natural ventilation can be achieved in this way. Essentially, your intake devices are designed to face prevailing winds and your exhaust devices face downwind. Heat from the building rises through the chimneys and outside, while the prevailing winds force air into the intake devices. This cooler air naturally sinks into the building and is circulated. Sustainable design principles such as adding daylight can also save costs. The use of more windows and skylights creates solar power. Some buildings even feature light shelves, which allow for greater infiltration of sunlight. 2. Insulation One of the most common construction trends is related to improving insulation and subsequent long-term cost savings that can reduces gas emissions into the atmosphere. Currently, in Canada, there are new bio-insulations that replace standard fiberglass types. It’s important to determine if these methods will work for your specific project. 3. Roofing Technology The average useful life of a commercial roof is about 14 years and can be an expensive venture. More sophisticated re-roofing, maintenance and repair techniques are much more cost-effective than installing new roofs.

4. Innovative Use Of Materials Basic materials such as concrete are increasingly more versatile and can be adapted for your specific needs: • mix with additives such as coloring agents and sealants to provide special physical properties. For instance, contractors use concrete that contains additional mineral materials such as fly ash, silica fume and slag; this strengthens the concrete and saves costs; • simulate more expensive surfaces such as marble, granite, stone or brick; • precasting concrete panels are stockpiled and

then used to accelerate building construction, also known as tilt-up concrete construction; • use a concrete mixture that doesn’t require heated enclosures when working in the winter. As well, recycled materials can be used in flooring and building accessories to save costs. You could also choose to expose building structures such as plumbing and piping, which make them easier to replace or repair. Prefabricated Construction This consists of putting together a building from components (framework, posts, walls,

etc.) mass-produced in a plant. Once ordered, all the components are delivered to the site. With prefabricated construction, the manufacturer can produce the components, most often steel, under optimal conditions; the resulting structure has the advantage of being light, strong and versatile. As well, this concept allows for greater latitude in terms of building dimensions. The structure is designed from the outset to easily incorporate doors and windows. This means the building can be readily expanded, as it’s easy to add new structural elements.


February 2008 | THE AC&TJ | Construction

Marco delivers quality in competitive market By Stephen Clare Contributing Writer

here’s a great and ancient business proverb that states: “You are only as strong as the people you surround yourself with.” Perhaps nowhere is this truer in Atlantic Canada than in the highly competitive construction industry. For more than a quarter of a century, Marco has adhered to that wise adage, growing its reputation as one of the region’s finest project managers, general contractors and developers, and establishing itself as a leader in the commercial, industrial and institutional construction sectors. With more than 50 employees located across Atlantic Canada in three provincial offices _ Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia _ the company is heavily involved in a number of on-going mega-developments across the region in recent years, including the construction of WalMart, Home Depot, Empire Theatre and Canadian Tire retail stores at HRM’s newest commercial facility, Dartmouth Crossing. To date, the firm has helped construct four Home Depots, eight Canadian Tires and seven Wal-Marts along the East Coast. Allan MacIntosh, president of The Marco Group since 2003, believes there are a number of qualities that help distinguish his firm from the competition. “First and foremost we’ve established our name in this industry on both our technical expertise and the high quality of our work,”


he says. “We work well under pressure and ensure jobs are brought in on time and on budget, using only the best products and the brightest people.” Those people, MacIntosh adds, are at the core of his company’s success and are the reason Marco sits atop every bid list with retailers across the country. “We pride ourselves on our employees,” he says. “We’re very fortunate to have built a great team here at Marco through our extensive training program.” Employees are developed through on-thejob project experience and formal educational training. With on-the-job project development, employees are assigned to work sites and given a wide variety of responsibilities. Employees are also required to take additional formal training through university, community college and seminars in areas such as safety, contract administration, computer applications and management. “This is our commitment to providing our clients with the highest quality of service on the market today,” MacIntosh says. “In this highly competitive industry, our customers demand the best from us and we expect no less from ourselves.” That commitment to excellence starts at the top with the company’s Chair and CEO, Christopher Hickman. As the son of company founder Tom Hickman, Christopher has worked hard to remain true to his father’s original vision. “My Dad really prided himself on the merit of his handshake,” says the younger




Three of Marcoʼs projects: 1. Marriott Hotel; 2. Newfoundland Hydro; 3. UPEI School of Business.

Hickman. “He had very little need to formalize agreements and partnerships with clients. When he gave you his word it meant the job would get done right.” That original vision of integrity, teamwork and commitment remains at the core of the company’s mandate and is the reason why Atlantic Business Magazine recognized Hickman as one of the region’s Top 50 CEOs for the last two years. The award, which is given out annually, recognizes individuals who display corporate leadership excellence and who advance their respective

industries and improve the quality of life for all Atlantic Canadians. “While it’s certainly a great honour to receive this personal acknowledgement, it’s more a reflection of the great team of professionals I work with,” he says. “Marco has always been about its people, without whom we wouldn’t be enjoying the great success we do today.” The strength of Marco’s people combined with strong leadership has earned The Marco Group the reputation of being the “Builders of Atlantic Canada.”

Roadbuilders | THE AC&TJ | February 2008


Association calls for HRM bylaw on rock crushing B y A n d y Wa l k e r Contributing Writer

he Nova Scotia Road Builders Association has issued a call to the Halifax Regional Municipality for a new bylaw to regulate temporary rock crushing. The three-page letter, signed by president Don Maillet and the 10 other association directors, notes the membership roll includes contractors who operate portable rock crushers as well as quarry operators within the municipality. “Site clearing, excavation and fill are necessary components of nearly every form of construction,” the letter notes. “Everyone shares in the benefits produced by this industry, including new and revitalized building and development and indirect economic returns such as employment and business activity.” The Association stresses its commitment to “sustainable development” and green initiatives. While rock found onsite can sometimes be crushed and used in the project, the association maintains it has never been spelled out whether rocks can be brought from one site to be crushed elsewhere.


“Crushing onsite for use onsite makes sense in terms of economic efficiency and environmental impacts,” the Association argues. “However, producing aggregate for use on other sites is effectively the same business that’s carried on by quarries regulated by the Department of Environment and Labour. These activities shouldn’t be carried on by contractors operating portable rock crushers.” However, the Association is concerned the industry doesn’t become over-regulated. It calls for a new bylaw to deal only with portable rock crushers. “This activity is specifically characterized by the processing of rock material into new finished product, namely sized gravel,” the Association’s letter maintains. “It’s only towards this activity that a new bylaw should be directed.” The group argues primary construction activities such as excavation, rock breaking and grinding of the grubbings for removal should be exempt from regulations, The directors maintain, “These are necessary processes inherent to any development and have been in use for many years.” Include those activities in the bylaw, the group argues, “would require a much deeper

and more complex probing of the broad ranging effects on the industry.” On demolition sites, the Association wants no restrictions on crushing old buildings and moving them off-site. The Association maintains the new bylaw should require rock crushed by a portable machine to be used on-site and

prohibit rock being taken to a site specifically to be crushed. “By incorporating these broad requirements into a new bylaw, HRM can ensure residents are protected and at the same time allow construction activity to continue in the manner that’s consistent among all contractors – big and small,” the letter concludes.

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February 2008 | THE AC&TJ | Roadbuilders

N.B. road builders mark association’s 50th anniversary B y A n d y Wa l k e r Contributing Writer

he Road Builders’ Association of New Brunswick (RBANB) marked its golden anniversary by raising more than $50,000 for the Children’s Wish Foundation at its annual charity auction. The fundraising event was part of the Association’s 50th annual meeting, which brought some 475 contractors, suppliers and engineers to the province’s capital in mid January. This is the eighth consecutive year the Children’s Wish Foundation has benefited from the Association’s generosity.


Since the first charity auction was first held in support of the Foundation in 2001, the RBANB has donated more than $150,000 to this worthy cause. However, the Association didn’t stop with the Children’s Wish Foundation. The RBANB raised $7,000 at its closing banquet for the “Boys in Red” trust fund – a fund established in memory of the seven Bathurst High School basketball students who lost their lives in a tragic highway accident in January. Keynote speaker at the closing banquet was former New Brunswick premier and Canada’s former ambassador to the U.S. Frank McKenna. McKenna told the convention delegates he supports a proposed highway through Maine that would provide a new link to central Canada. He also remains in favour of tolling the privatelyowned highway between Moncton and Fredericton. New Brunswick’s Minister of Transportation, Denis Landry, gave a “state of the industry” address at the convention. The Department of Transportation’s capital budget for 2008-2009 will be nearly $340 million. Excluding any payments as part of public-private partnerships, this is the largest transportation capital budget in

New Brunswick history. The budget will generate more than 3,400 full-time, direct jobs in the road construction industry and more than 3,300 indirect jobs. Over and above this record budget, this year’s capital investments will generate an additional $163 million in spending activity in the industries that support construction and as a result of the jobs that will be generated by the work. Within the department’s $340 million capital budget, $325.8 million is being provided to fund construction and rehabilitation on the province’s roads and bridges David Oxner, director of the Atlantic Gateway Program, and Jeff Morrison, Canadian Construction Association and TRIP Canada, also addressed the Association. Calvin Flight of Moncton takes over the helm of the Association as president while Roger Leger of Grand Barachois is its new vice president. Formed in 1958, the RBANB is a major voice of the province’s road building and heavy construction industry. This nonprofit organization is an advocate for contractors, support service firms, suppliers and engineers and provides its members with educational and networking opportunities.

Roadbuilders | THE AC&TJ | February 2008


Banner year expected in Newfoundland & Labrador Contributing Writer

record highway capital budget and increased private sector business fuelled by the oil industry point to a banner year for members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Road Builders Association. “The Department of Transportation has a capital budget of $175 million, which is the highest since the province joined Confederation,” says incoming president Steve Grainger. Grainger says the 2007 budget was in the range of $160 million and that was comparable with 2006. He points out the department has also pledged to go to tender for major project earlier, which will help insure the budgeted work is done during the construction season. Grainger says 2007 was the first year the industry began to see spin-off business from the province’s growing offshore oil sector. All indications are that this trend will continue in 2008. Like other industries throughout the Atlantic provinces, the incoming president says his members are losing some workers to the lure of higher wages in Alberta. He believes


...if the work is there, we will be able to retain workers. the best defence is a thriving construction sector, saying, “The feedback we’re getting from our members is their workforce would rather stay closer to home _ if the work is there, we will be able to retain workers.” Last year, the Association began a project with the College of the North Atlantic on operator training. Grainger says the program is now under review to see how it can better meet the Association’s goals. There are a number of issues the association will be focusing on during the coming months. Near the top of the list is the hoursof-service legislation. Association members currently have an exemption under the act, but that expires at the end of March. Grainger says if the industry is brought under the act it will have a dramatic impact on construction operations. Hours of work

would have to be cut back on construction sites, meaning less work would be done over the course of the season.

“We think there are safety issues there as well for the motoring public since it would take longer to complete the job,” he says.


B y A n d y Wa l k e r


February 2008 | THE AC&TJ | Roadbuilders

Roundabout expropriation capped just under $1 million B y To m A y e r s Transcontinental Media

he Nova Scotia provincial government has confirmed the total cost of expropriating a health and beauty spa for a planned roundabout at Alexandra Street and Kenwood Drive in Sydney will be just under $1 million.


The expropriation will cost approximately $989,000, which includes the purchase and preparation of a new site immediately north of Tracie’s Spa on Alexandra Street, purchase of the existing property, new construction of a 5,000-square-foot building to house the spa and business loss and disruption. The deal includes a cap to prevent the province from paying ongoing costs to move Tracie’s Spa, says Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal spokesper-

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The deal includes a cap to prevent the province from paying ongoing costs to move Tracie’s Spa.

son Cathy MacIsaac. A breakdown of the costs isn’t available, she says, because it includes confidential business information about Tracie’s Spa. Transportation department officials initially refused to divulge any financial information on the land deal, saying it’s a private transaction between the province and Tracie’s Spa. It was suggested the only option for finding out the information would be through a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request. Instead, the province has since decided it could release the total cost to taxpayers without breaching anyone’s privacy. MacIsaac says the difficulty in finding out how much information could be released arose because expropriations involving ongoing commercial ventures are rare.

Steve Smith, a communications officer with the department, earlier stated that the contract to level the neighbouring property was tendered and awarded to Peter’s Construction Ltd. for $190,000. In a follow-up interview, Smith said he “misspoke” and the contract had not been tendered, but was handled by Keith McKeen, a former highways engineer and private contractor who received three bids before awarding the work to Peter’s Construction. The province paid the bill, anyway, Smith says. Tracie’s spa owner Tracie Breski says she hopes to have the new building ready in July, and the province has said the roundabout is scheduled for construction this season. It will replace the existing set of temporary streetlights at Alexandra Street and Kenwood Drive, and include traffic to and from the Highway 125 bypass. Meanwhile, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality says the province is planning a new road from the Membertou First Nation to the intersection, giving the reserve more direct access to the highway. MacIsaac says while the possibility of a road was discussed, there is currently no plan for a road from Membertou to the highway. Further details are unavailable. The Cape Breton Post


February 2008 | THE AC&TJ | Roadbuilders

Nova Scotia road builders undergo change B y A n d y Wa l k e r Contributing Writer

here was less road construction undertaken in Nova Scotia last year, but spending did increase under the Rural Infrastructure Maintenance program. As the calendar winds down to the end of the 2007-2008 budget year, Don Maillet says spending was in the range of $140 million. The president of the Nova Scotia Road Builders Association says that’s just short of the budget figure of $150 million and down


considerable from the $195 million spent on repairing the province’s highways in 2006-2007. On the positive side, he says the increase in infrastructure funding helped pick up some of the shortfall. Spending was pegged at $20 million year, compared to $16 million in 2006 and $12 million in 2005. Maillet says the Association is expecting the proposed Atlantic Gateway will mean significant business as both the federal and provincial government will be increasing their investment in road and yard infrastructure. He expects $25 million in funding to be available in 2008.

New bridge for Cabot Trail he Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has awarded a $2,362,362 bridge replacement contract for the Cabot Trail in Inverness County. The contract was awarded to Alva Construction Ltd. to replace the existing timber bridge at Grand Etang with a two-span concrete bridge. “Tourism plays a vital roll in Nova Scotia’s economy and good roads are a must,” says Murray Scott, minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. “This improvement is one

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ACTJ Briefs E.M. Diotte awarded Sugarloaf Senior High School expansion The provincial government has awarded a $1.3 million contract for a major expansion to Sugarloaf Senior High School in Campbellton. E.M. Diotte Construction of Balmoral won the contract and will begin work immediately on the project, with an estimated finish date in September 2008. The improvements to the high school involve a 191 sq. m. expansion, which includes enlarging the school cafeteria and adding a stage area. A new sprinkler system will also be installed throughout the school as part of the upgrade. Sugarloaf Senior High School has a student population of 450 students in Grades 9 to 12. Berwick lets three land plans move on By Nancy Kelly • Transcontinental Media Berwick’s Town planning consultant Chris Millier sees no issues with “the straightforward” application by Larsen Packers Limited to rezone lands adjacent to the plant at 312 Main Street from Industrial Heavy M2 to Residential Single Family R-1. “Over time, the building situated on this property has or hasn’t been tied to Larsen’s operations,” Millier says. The structure is currently being used as a residential property. Larsen’s has filed the zoning ap-

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munity College branches to understand the current situation. Maillet says many members are concerned about the workforce situation since there are a large number of retirements on the horizon, as well as the lure of higher paying positions in Alberta. A new traffic control manual was introduced last April. Maillet says the course curriculum of the new manual for training signers and traffic control people turned out to be much more difficult than in the past. He says the Department of Transportation is currently looking for feedback on the manual to help better understand the issues facing contractors on a daily basis.

plication pursuant to its plan to sever and sell it as such. The Planning Advisory Committee agrees and voted in favour of the rezoning and recommended the application be considered for first reading at council. The Committee also reviewed an application by Viking Ventures to enter into a development agreement for the proposed construction of two multipleunit buildings on Ron Smith Drive. The half-acre lot is the first one on the south side of Ron Smith Drive, off Commercial Street. It’s currently zoned for multi-unit construction, but Viking Ventures would like to put up two, not just one, three-unit townhouse-like structures. Doing so will require a development agreement. The committee voted to send the application to council after Millier urged them to request a more detailed application from Viking Ventures. He says more information will be required regarding storm drainage, elevation, storage, signage and landscaping. Citing the development agreement which resulted in the construction of Apple Town Estates in the downtown core, Millier says, with respect to landscaping, the committee wasn’t “particular enough and look what we got.” The third rezoning application to be granted approval was for three pieces of property located at the corner of Main Street and Maple Avenue. The lands are zoned Agriculture A-1, but the application by Allison Woodworth and Bill Wilson seeks a change in zoning to Residential Single Family R-1. Millier says he expects the land will be developed for residential purposes, but notes nothing specific has been planned. Kings County Register

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of several we’ve made to the Cabot Trail during the past few years.” The project is part of government’s commitment to better roads and infrastructure as outlined in the speech from the throne. The department’s highways division manages more than 23,000 kilometres of roads in Nova Scotia. It maintains 4,100 bridges and operates seven provincial ferries. Staff provides services from district offices in Bridgewater, Bedford, Truro and Sydney.

The Association hired an executive director for the first time in 2007 to help the industry become more proactive in its dealings with government. As well, a committee was formed to work with the Halifax Regional Municipality to discuss issues related to the design and construction of infrastructure projects within the province’s largest municipality. Maillet notes the group undertook discussions with education and training providers to ensure students understand career options within the industry. To date, discussions have taken place with high school guidance counselors and Nova Scotia Com-

Roadbuilders | THE AC&TJ | February 2008

Agreement offers new possibilities for road construction memorandum of understanding with Partnerships BC will help Nova Scotia explore new possibilities for building roads and other facilities to address the province’s multi-billion dollar infrastructure deficit. The agreement gives Nova Scotia access to the expertise Partnerships BC has developed through strategic infrastructure partnerships with the private sector. “Like the rest of the country, we need to look at new and innovative ways of meeting our infrastructure needs that fast track construction while protecting taxpayers,” says Murray Scott, minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. “Partnerships BC is a Canadian leader in this innovative project delivery method. Partnerships BC has demonstrated value for money through more than 20 projects completed or underway, on time and on budget, in partnership with the private sector.”


Nova Scotia will use the expertise and experience of Partnerships BC to assess whether some of the province’s most pressing infrastructure demands could be met through the strategic partnership method. Ontario and Alberta are also addressing their infrastructure needs through strategic infrastructure partnerships for roads, courts and health facilities. In its March 2007 budget, the federal government announced the creation of a $1.27-billion fund that would potentially give Nova Scotia access to funding for innovative partnership projects. “We want to learn from other provinces where they know that, with the right process, strategic infrastructure partnership give their citizens improved access to the facilities they need in their communities,” Scott says. More information on Partnerships BC can be found on its Web site at



February 2008 | THE AC&TJ | Construction

Nova Scotia government brings back P3 projects By Brian Flinn Transcontinental Media

he Tory government will partner with private companies to build new roads and public buildings, perhaps including hospitals. The government’s throne speech says the province needs public-private partnerships to overcome an $8 billion infrastructure deficit. It cited the Cobequid Pass and the East Coast Forensic Hospital as examples of how that can work. The Conservatives promised to end P3 contracts when they were first elected eight years ago. “Nova Scotia has learned from the mistakes of the P3 schools of the 1990s,” the Throne Speech says. “Instead, our government will build responsibly, with a transparent financial process, the infrastructure needed for communities and people.” Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal


Minister Murray Scott says that doesn’t mean more toll roads, at least not under the kind of arrangement that built the toll section of Highway 104. “I think the toll highway in this province was not acceptable to Nova Scotians. That message was sent loud and clear,” he says. “If there’s another way to do a partnership that’s more acceptable to Nova Scotians, then I want to look at all those.” He says P3 deals that built schools in the 1990s didn’t give communities enough access to the new buildings. The private sector could also play a greater role in health care. The government will “allow publicly funded, private facilities to play a clearly defined role in providing access to certain and proscribed health services.” Premier Rodney MacDonald says he’s committed to upholding the Canada Health Act. The province already works

with private companies such as Emergency Health Services, without compromising universal access. “Could it mean a new hospital at some point in time? Certainly,” he says. “That’s a potential for a strategic infrastructure partnership.” NDP Leader Darrell Dexter says he’s concerned government will compromise universal health care. He says past P3 projects have cost taxpayers a lot more money, with dubious results. The throne speech promises to twin highways from Yarmouth to Sydney by 2020. Dexter says it’s ridiculous for the government to make that kind of promise. “These guys aren’t going to be around in 2020,” Dexter says. “They’ll be lucky to be around through 2008.” Danny Cavanagh, the president of CUPE Nova Scotia, says the government’s plans to start using P3s again shows it learned noth-

ing from the P3 schools fiasco. “Contrary to what the name implies, these are not partnerships _ only the private partners benefit with windfall profits, while taxpayers get left holding the bag. The fact they’re even considering P3 hospitals should scare the heck out of people. Ontario just witnessed huge cost overruns on three P3 hospitals it just completed,” Cavanagh says. “Ironically, HRM just celebrated the opening of a new sewage treatment plant that was publicly finance and will be publicly operated, which came in under budget and on time,” says Cavanagh. “Rodney MacDonald is being sucked in again by Stephen Harper, this time with his so-called ÅeBuilding Canada’ infrastructure program, which includes a requirement to consider P3s for all projects with over a $50 million federal contribution.” The Daily News

N.B. busy with several P3 construction projects ork on the Moncton Courthouse is expected to begin this year. Prodel Design of Moncton is the architect hired by the province to do the initial design, but the private developers will

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tate Investment of Winnipeg (Bird/Rideau Construction of Saint John is the contractor on this team); and CitiGroup Properties of Dartmouth (Springhill Construction of Fredericton is the contractor on this team). The Saint John Courthouse has Murdock & Boyd of Saint John as the architect, hired by the province to do the initial design. This project is getting ready for the RFP. Other P3s in the works for the next few

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years include a new mental hospital in Restigouche, a new school in Rexton, a new school for Moncton North and an adult detention facility in Moncton. Also, it might be interesting to note that in the 1990s, New Brunswick completed three other P3s for the Evergreen Park School in Moncton, the Miramichi youth detention centre, the Centracare facility in Saint John and the Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton.

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Construction | THE AC&TJ | February 2008


Mobile computing technology Provincial tax credit could adoption in construction support apprentices Construction Technology Center Atlantic

he idea of adopting mobile computing technology (MCT) for tasks in the Canadian Construction Industry isn’t a new one. In fact, it would seem everyone knows of a story about an unsuccessful adoption attempt. Many companies in the past have adopted MCTs believing the “proposed” capability of the technology would meet their needs. These so called “blanket” devices had all the functionality in the world and had the “capability” to do everything and anything imaginable. The problem, many of these companies found out the hard way, was that adopting a MCT wasn’t as simple as acquiring a blanket device. There are many different aspects to the adoption of MCTs that need to be taken into consideration long before the technology actually gets adopted. Many of these adoption aspects focus on identifying what that job is, determining if the users can use and accept the technology for that job and determining if the tool will meet the requirements of the business. One type of MCT that’s getting widespread use and attention for its ability to perform tasks (e.g. e-mailing) well is the Blackberry. However, many adopters acquire Black-



berry’s under the assumption they can be used to perform other tasks. For example, a Blackberry doesn’t necessarily have the capability to communicate with a database. Using it for applications that require it to exchange information with another type of technology (other than via e-mail) may not meet the needs of the business process. Let’s say you’ve just sat down to a steak dinner. To your left is a spoon and to you’re right is a fork. Before you dive into this delicious steak, you think, “Hmm, I should get a knife for this delicious steak because the spoon and fork just won’t Åecut’ it.” What you’ve just done is identify a tool to perform a task that meets the user’s requirements and satisfies the business practices, i.e. your in business to stay alive, eating does that for you! If a mobile computing device were a knife, then you would’ve successfully adopted it. Research on MCTs is currently being conducted at the University of New Brunswick in cooperation with the National Research Council Institute for Information Technology. This research is attempting to determine the relative impact of barriers that could be responsible for making the adoption of MCT in the Canadian construction industry complicated. It’s anticipated that a strategic approach to MCT adoption in the industry will be identified that takes into consideration some of these barriers.

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mployers of skilled labourers need incentives to take on apprentices, says Steven Britten, a contractor and certified carpenter. “Businesses don’t have the luxury to slow down,” he says. “Somebody has to pay for it.” Britten runs his own contracting and carpentry company in Chester, Nova Scotia. He has gladly taken on an apprentice, who he says shows passion and aptitude, but says there’s an economic cost to it. Industry has asked the provincial Education Department to look into offering tax credits to employers who take on appren-


tices, but so far that hasn’t happened, says Marjorie Davison, the department’s director of apprenticeship training. There’s a $2,000 federal tax credit, for up to two years, available to employers who take on apprentices. “It’s not always about straight money support,” Davison says, “but it’s also about educating our employers so they understand the value to their workers and their future workforce.” Davison says the province supports employers through other initiatives, including a grant for apprentices; a pilot program to involve employers in a student’s trade training; the funding of a youth placement co-ordinator; and a database of 6,000 employers willing to take apprentices and co-op students. The Daily News

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February 2008 | THE AC&TJ | Transportation

New funding announced for Stephenville airport

By Frank Gale Transcontinental Media

he environment and economy of the area is expected to benefit from federal investments of $2.3 million for the Stephenville airport and nearly $2.9 million for the Community Education Network for Southwestern Newfoundland. Loyola Hearn, minister responsible for Newfoundland and Labrador, in making the announcements, paid special attention to the fact the amount for the airport is to conduct the last of the environmental remediation work there. He says some $4 million was spent in the past on the same type of work at the airport


to help improve the natural environment. The newest investment fulfils the environmental commitment made by the federal government to the Stephenville Airport Corporation at the time of the airport’s transfer, which took place in 1998. As part of the transfer agreement, Hearn says Transport Canada is responsible for the remediation of the airport property for contamination that occurred prior to the transfer. The work begins this year and completed in 2012. “Any time you get federal money coming in, it’s good for the community, but it’s also great news for the airport because any business or companies coming in want to be sure the airport has a good bill of health when it comes to the environment,” says Bob Byrnes, chair of the Stephenville Air-

port Corporation. Byrnes says he’s pleased with the federal government’s continued support and commitment to the reclamation program. “This is an indication government has confidence in Stephenville Airport,” he says. “They know we have a major piece of infrastructure here that’s recognized worldwide and this financing reaffirms the federal government’s commitment to the future of this airport.” Mayor Wayne Ruth of Kippens, former chair of the environmental and sustainability committee of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, was especially pleased to hear the government is moving on these environmental issues and the reduction of emissions. When he served on the national committee, Ruth says he brought forward presentations of their behalf to the federal government and is glad to see because of that lobbying, there are now some local benefits. Mayor Tom O’Brien of Stephenville says it was an excellent announcement and a substantial amount of money being spent locally. He was pleased to hear Hearn say the feds are prepared to go even further with this reclamation if some unknown contaminants are found. The Community Education Network for Southwestern Newfoundland is receiving $2,897,867 through three Employment Assistance Services financing agreements. This aims to help the Community Employment Readiness Centres help more than 7,800 individuals in the Port aux Basques, Rocky Harbour and St. Anthony areas find and maintain meaningful employment through access to job-search fa-

cilities and employment readiness services, according to Hearn. Anne Hart, executive assistant with the network, welcomes the announcement and says she had known about it before it was made on Thursday. She says the good thing about this is that the programs and services they provide will continue under a threeyear program, rather than year-to-year as it was in the past. Hearn says the program is going to organizations that put serious paperwork forward and demonstrate to government these types of programs are benefiting people in the community. There was $229,010 for the Gateway Status of Women Council to help 375 women in Port aux Basques in their hunt for work. Communities and schools in Newfoundland and Labrador are getting $76,958 to provide work experience for 12 individuals in Port aux Basques and four in the Rocky Harbour area. Hearn announced $68,495 for the Ramea Economic Development Corporation to help 500 individuals experiencing difficulty re-entering the labour force, and $37,876 for the Community Youth Network for Southwestern Newfoundland to provide five people in the Port aux Basques area gain experience conducting youth engagement programs in the community. “While some people may think these announcements are being made just to try and get votes, this isn’t government handouts as every cent is scrutinized and you have to show value for it,” Hearn says. “This is giving money back to those who have come up with a plan to benefit the community.” The Western Star

Minister endorses upgrading Deer Lake’s status Transcontinental Media

ederal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn dallied with the issue of Deer Lake Regional Airport’s struggle to be designated


as an airport of entry during a recent swing through Western Newfoundland. When he spoke to the Board of Trade in Corner Brook, Hearn said customs and immigration services - which currently serve the airport in a part time capacity - would be





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full time “in a matter of weeks.” But the next day, when speaking to the Deer Lake Chamber of Commerce, he backed down from his position somewhat, saying he was going to meet with airport officials to “look into the issue.” However, an official from Hearn’s office says the minister was making inquiries, but it was inappropriate for him to comment until he had more information. Deer Lake airport manager Jamie Schwartz says he had a brief conversation with the minister before Hearn hopped on a plane to finish his western Newfoundland tour. “I was pleased Minister Hearn gave me the opportunity to present the airport’s position on the issue to the minister directly,” Schwartz says. “Hopefully, we’ll have some kind of answer on the issue in the near future.” However, Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte MP

Gerry Byrne doesn’t need to hear anything else. Byrne believes the minister’s comments were telling enough. “After hearingMinister Hearn’s speech to the board of trade, I’m calling on the minister to honour the commitment he made in Corner Brook. “I think it’s great news and it’s the right decision. It shows the lobbying effort the airport, the business community and I have made to get this done. “Stockwell Day has, just recently, granted airport of entry status for airports in New Brunswick and Ontario. So I say, if it’s good enough for New Brunswick and Ontario, it’s good enough for Newfoundland. “Minster Hearn said there would be permanent customs presence in Deer Lake and that’s great news.” The Western Star

Transportation | THE AC&TJ | February 2008


Sydney port officials set future course By Nancy King Transcontinental Media

ort of Sydney officials have unveiled a plan intended to set the course for future development they believe could potentially lead to thousands of new jobs associated with harbour activities. The ports master plan, which cost about $400,000, was carried out by Connecticutbased TEC Inc. for the Sydney Marine Group, a consortium of seven public and private operators around the harbour. “Maybe you take it too much for granted, but Sydney harbour is just an excellent location for port activities,” says Bob Wardwell, project manager with TEC Inc. The consultant worked with local officials for 18 months while also working with other ports around the world. None of those places, Wardwell says, have assets better than Sydney. The timing is right to embark on planning for port development, he notes, both because of global factors such as shifting trade routes due to emerging markets, and also regional opportunities such as XStrata’s proposed development of the Donkin mine. “We’ve come up with, I believe, a doable road map,” he says, adding coal could be a real driver for the port. While increased cruise ship and some additional bulk cargo traffic could be pursued regardless, many of the opportunities outlined in the report will only be made possible with the dredging of a 7.5-kilometre lane in the harbour’s outer channel, at an estimated cost of $44 million. It has been called the key-enabling event for the port. “The opportunities in coal and containers are related to getting rid of that limiting factor in the outer channel,” Wardwell says. Container and larger bulk carriers require a draft of about 16.5 metres. The area of Sydney Harbour that would have to be dredged has an average depth of 13 metres and is 11.5 metres at its shallowest point. A survey vessel recently finished collecting data to support the dredging case and a diving survey is expected. The environmental assessment process of the dredging plan is expected to begin this year.


Potential capital improvements outlined in the plan include a two-phase, $302-million container terminal development on the 450-acre Sydport greenfield site. Already about 2,400 jobs and $61 million in annual tax revenue are associated with businesses operating at the port. According to the plan, there’s the potential to see that grow to as many as 8,800 jobs and $166 million in tax revenues. “These are doable numbers based upon the asset you have now, the business you’re doing now and the real opportunities we’ve identified in the master plan,” Wardwell says. The plan looks at various port sites and their potential for different sorts of development. It also sets out short, intermediate and long-term action plans. Capt. Terry Pittman, chair of the Sydney Port Corp. as well as the Marine Group, notes that although the port has a lot to recommend it _ being a well-protected deep-water port with supporting infrastructure, including rail _ marine activity is on the decline. That’s something the Marine Group wants to work to change, working to implement the plan with a common resolve, he says. There’s no port authority set up to govern the harbour. The report recommends in the short term the Marine Group continue to work collaboratively, although it did make note of examples of arrangements in place in some other regions. Laurentian Energy CEO Jim Wooder says creating the Marine Group has been a significant achievement in itself, as has financing the port’s plan and bringing together others to form an advocacy council. Because the port business is highly competitive, sound economics and business cases are what will drive capital investment, he says. “And that’s exactly the way it should be,” Wooder adds. “We’re responsibly laying the foundation to enable the port to pursue these business cases.” He’s bound by confidentiality agreements, but Wooder says officials are talking to at least three groups that have shown interest in the port. Cape Breton Post

Ports advocacy council hopes to work with counterparts from Halifax, Canso By Doug MacKenzie Transcontinental Media

hree Sydney-area groups have combined forces to form the Ports Advocacy Council, and are calling for a meeting of the leadership of Nova Scotia’s three most prominent ports to examine avenues of co-operation and joint action. The Cape Breton Partnership, JCI Cape Breton and the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce met with port leaders from Halifax and Strait of Canso in Sydney on Feb. 20 to explore the future of port development


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across the province. The three ports are all examining ways and means of attracting new business and significant investment. “At this point we’re just dealing with this meeting,” says Owen Fitzgerald, president of the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce. “We’re hoping that all the parties will see the value in this.” The advocacy council hopes the representatives can put together an ad-hoc committee to co-ordinate certain port development activities across the province. Cape Breton Post

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February 2008 | THE AC&TJ

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