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editor’s note

Canada desperately needs additional pipeline capacity. With the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers forecasting oilsands output to double to 3.2 million barrels a day by 2020, the issue couldn’t be more urgent. But that’s only part of the problem. What’s coming out of the oilsands region competes with oil—a lot of oil—from the Bakken play in North Dakota for limited space on already-congested pipelines, and that’s putting downward pressure on the price of Canadian crude. Getting product to market, however, is proving to be far more difficult than getting product out of the ground. And a series of high-profile oil spills over the past two years hasn’t helped. Oscar Wilde once said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Had he been around for this summer’s report on the 2010 Enbridge Inc. pipeline spill in Michigan, he probably would have kept his mouth shut. Having the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board say that Enbridge handled the spill like the Keystone Kops is hardly a ringing endorsement. At this point, the fate of Northern Gateway, which would carry Alberta bitumen through British Columbia to the West Coast, is bleak. That’s a shame because what we need most is access to Asian markets. The fate of the Keystone XL project, which would carry product south to Cushing, Okla., is another matter, though one likely to be settled in the voting booth in November. Assuming the U.S. economy remains in the doldrums, Republicans are sure to continue the argument that the project will create thousands of construction jobs at a time when the United States needs new jobs. Unfortunately, time isn’t on Canada’s side. According to a recent report by Wood Mackenzie Limited, “Canadian crude potentially faces deep protracted discounts if pipeline projects stumble and new export routes are not secured.” In the pages ahead, we look at pipeline construction (page 37) as well as a number of other energy-related projects and issues. We also talk to Alberta’s new energy minister, Ken Hughes (page 46). And speaking of energy, we’re putting a lot of energy into the planning of our annual Alberta Construction Magazine Top Projects Awards issue and this year’s luncheon and awards ceremony. There are three dates you should make a note of: October 1, November 1 and December 4. Here’s what you should know: Nominations may be made at for 2012 submissions. You can do everything online, including submitting photo(s) for each project. But remember, the deadline is end of day October 1, so the sooner you submit, the less stressed out you’ll be. Now in terms of the gala luncheon and awards ceremony, which we’ve been planning with our premier sponsor KPMG, please make a note that it will be held at the Derrick Golf and Winter Club on December 4 in Edmonton. (The event rotates between Calgary and Edmonton.) You can order tickets by going to the same web address and, if you do so before November 1, you qualify for the early bird discount. Hope to see you there. And in the meantime, keep those nominations coming!

Coming next issue: Top Projects

Alberta Construction Magazine | 5

editorial EditOr

Chaz Osburn • AssistAnt EditOr

Joseph Caouette • COntributing writErs

Jim Bentein, Godfrey Budd, Diane L.M. Cook, Ken Gibson, Tim Mavco, Alisha Mody, Tricia Radison, Tim Rogers EditOriAl AssistAnCE MAnAgEr


Samantha Sterling • EditOriAl AssistAnCE

Kate Austin, Laura Blackwood, Janis Carlson de Boer, Tracey Comeau, Alison Dotinga, Brandi Haugen, Marisa Sawchuk

Creative Print, PrEPrEss & PrOduCtiOn MAnAgEr

Michael Gaffney •


Tamara Polloway-Webb •


Cathlene Ozubko

grAPhiC dEsignEr

Birdeen Selzer

COntributing PhOtOgrAPhErs

Charles Hope, Joey Podlubny

sAlEs MAnAgEr—AdVErtising

Maurya Sokolon •

sEniOr ACCOunt ExECutiVE

Della Gray •



Nowhere to go but up Fort McMurray unveils a plan to get its stagnating downtown core out of a tight corner By Jim Bentein


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Closing the training gap SAIT Polytechnic’s new Trades and Technology Complex is expected to help meet Alberta’s growing skilled labour needs By Diane L.M. Cook



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More pipe needed Despite high-profile pipeline spills, additional construction expected in 2013-14 By Godfrey Budd

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Tel: 1.866.543.7888 Email: Alberta Construction Magazine is owned by JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group and is published bimonthly. ©2012 JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of the publisher. The opinions expressed by contributors to Alberta Construction Magazine may not represent the official views of the magazine. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, the publisher does not assume any responsibility or liability for errors or omissions. Printed by PrintWest Postage Paid in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada If undeliverable return to: Circulation Department, 80 Valleybrook Dr., North York, ON M3B 2S9 Made In Canada GST Registration Number 826256554RT Printed in Canada ISSN 1499-6308 Publication Mail Agreement Number 40069240

6 | Fall 2012



This mould house A hazard to health and home, mould requires greater vigilance from construction industry By Joseph Caouette


Warming trend Clothing that generates heat for the wearer and works for the construction industry could be closer than you think By Tricia Radison


Stitching up safety Calgary company takes customized approach to safety vests By Tricia Radison


Volume 32, Number 3 Published Fall 2012







5 8 11 23 51 61 65 84 92 96 104

DoWNgraDiNg The upgraDerS Alberta government refines its stance toward building bitumen upgraders in the province By Jim Bentein

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Editor’s note . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Project update . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . nuts & bolts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Around Canada . . . . . People, Products & Projects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ACA report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CCA report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . business of building . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . legal Edge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . time Capsule Alberta Construction Magazine | 7

project update

ForMer FeDeraL BuiLDiNg Work continues on the $275-million refurbishment and redevelopment of the former Federal Building and grounds on the northeastern corner of the legislative grounds in Edmonton. The building will have offices for MLAs and staff from the Legislative Assembly Office. 1. Construction originally completed in 1958 2. Architect was george heath Macdonald 3. gross floor area is 33,000 square metres 4. usable office space is 23,000 square metres 5. site area is 1.04 hectares 6. building features granite and limestone exterior veneer with wood sash windows 7. Purchased from federal government in 1983 8. Vacant since 1989 9. scheduled completion in 2013 10. Clark builders is the construction manager

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8 | Fall 2012


Ten things to know:

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Thank You to Our Partners for Building a Greener World

BUILDEX is about designing, building and managing real estate

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Large trucks bearing heavy equipment are a common sight on Highway 63 leading into Fort McMurray, Alta.

the energy issue


Province speeds up twinning of deadly oilsands highway late in April, seven people died in a headon collision on highway 63. it was not the first such accident on the highway, and many fear it will not be the last. this perilous stretch of road leading into Fort McMurray, Alta., has been the site of numerous collisions in recent years, due in part to heavy traffic heading to and from the oilsands. it’s a situation Mike Allen would like to see change. Allen, the Progressive Conservative MlA for Fort McMurray–wood buffalo, has released a report recommending a number of safety improvements for the deadly highway.

he calls for the government to improve maintenance and road markings, increase the number of rest areas and add more passing lanes. he also urges more severe penalties for lead-footed drivers—including vehicle seizures, in some cases. “this activity is not to be tolerated anymore,” Allen says. “the position of this government and of our community is that driving is a privilege and it’s a privilege that’s not to be abused.” the government agrees with the bulk of Allen’s recommendations and has already begun implementing new measures. six digital signs to inform motorists of their speed will be installed, a new safety awareness campaign is coming before september and 16 additional traffic enforcement officers will be patrolling the highway by early 2013. Allen also wants the government to fast track twinning the highway. so far,

only 16 kilometres south of Fort McMurray have been twinned—a fraction of the 240-kilometre highway. An additional 17 kilometres were completed north of Fort McMurray as well. however, the long-standing project— the government first announced its intentions back in 2006—is kicking into high gear again following April’s deadly crash. work began in May on twinning a patch of 36 kilometres north of wandering river, Alta., with completion expected by the fall of 2013. tenders on three other projects to add lanes and prepare for future expansions have also been issued and are scheduled to be finished in 2013 as well. the government’s current plan is to twin 50 per cent of highway 63 within the next three years. Current estimates peg the cost of twinning the entire highway at $1 billion. Alberta Construction Magazine | 11

nuts & bolts

Edmonton adds a touch of class to downtown east end boarded-up windows, vacant lots—and luxury hotels? At first glance, the east end of Edmonton’s downtown—now rebranded as the quarters—might seem like an unlikely location for a prestigious new hotel. yet the project is part of an urban renewal strategy that will see over $200 million in private investment enter the long-neglected neighbourhood in the coming years.

located on 96 street and Jasper Avenue, the quarters downtown hotel will serve as a focal point for a revitalized district. Edmonton Mayor stephen Mandel, breaking ground in late June, described the hotel as “a major catalyst project for the quarters downtown.” to help support new investment in the area, Edmonton will spend up to $56 million on beautification and infrastructure projects. the city’s efforts to lure private companies into the neighbourhood did not go unnoticed by Prem singhmar, the developer behind the hotel. “they [the City of Edmonton] encouraged interesting design concepts and helped coordinate the transfer and remediation of land and upgrading drainage and

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utility systems to handle the demands of new development in the area,” he says. no company has signed on to operate the project yet, although talks are underway with several different hotel chains, according to singhmar. the hotel is scheduled to be completed by spring 2014. topping out at 12 storeys and 250,000 square feet, the hotel will feature commercial space, a conference centre, 220 suites and three levels of underground parking. A second-floor restaurant will overhang Jasper Avenue, with a view of Edmonton’s river valley. gene dub, the renowned local architect best known for his work on Edmonton City hall, designed the project.

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the new quarters downtown hotel would serve as a focal point for a revitalization of Edmonton’s downtown east side.

nuts & bolts The new NetZero energy duplex in Edmonton will be used to test the efficiency of a house made entirely of precast concrete.


the energy issue

The great Edmonton energy-efficiency experiment it’s not just a house. it’s a laboratory. when two families move into Edmonton’s new netzero energy duplex this fall, they’ll be at the centre of an experiment in energy efficiency.

lafarge Canada inc. built the structure entirely from precast concrete, working from a design provided by stantec inc. dennis lattimore, vice-president of marketing for lafarge, describes the project as “a learning vehicle.” “during design and manufacturing, all of the partners have captured countless lessons about building towards a netzero standard,” he says. those lessons are expected to continue once the house is occupied. Over three years, the performance of the building will

be monitored and compared with similar wood-frame homes in the Edmonton area. the precast panels will have nearly triple the insulation value of an average exterior wall, but this is hardly the only distinct feature of the netzero home. the building will also make use of a geothermal heating and hot water system, while rooftop solar photovoltaic panels will help provide power. lafarge donated the building to habitat for humanity, which selected the two families taking part in the program.


Alberta Construction Magazine | 13

nuts & bolts

Will western Canada ever get its gas-to-liquids plant?

the energy issue

Ever since sasol limited entered the Canadian shale gas market in 2010, speculation has been rampant about the potential for a gas-to-liquids (gtl) plant in western Canada. recent developments suggest the rumour mill will keep on grinding for a few more months. the fate of sasol limited’s proposed gtl plant is currently up in the air, but the south African firm expects to resolve the question before year’s end. unfortunately, the project has already hit one small snag on the road to construction. talisman Energy inc., the project’s Canadian partner, has said it won’t be proceeding with front-end engineering and design for the plant. After examining the project, the company declared that “there are better ways to allocate capital.” but sasol is not quite so discouraged—yet. north America’s abundance of low-priced natural gas is a tempting prize for companies with the right technology. gtl, which converts natural gas into liquid fuels like diesels, could help turn that cheap gas into a more valuable product. however, power generation and liquefied natural gas (lng) projects could compete with gtl for that cheap feedstock. in particular, lng has seen growing interest since the sasol project was announced in late 2010. but if sasol is worried about the competition, it isn’t letting it show. “the opportunity is so big in western Canada and the u.s. that i think there’s more than enough space for both technologies to be deployed successfully,” nereus Joubert, head of Canadian operations for sasol, tells the Daily Oil Bulletin, a sister publication to Alberta Construction Magazine. the larger question is whether the project will proceed at all. the proposed 48,000-barrel-per-day gtl plant can still go ahead without talisman’s financial support, but “there are still one or two things we would like to study a little bit in more detail,” Joubert says. “we will take it through our review and governance processes in the next couple of months and make a decision…before the end of the year whether to proceed to the next phase.” And if the plant—destined for an undecided location in western Canada—does proceed, sasol will happily go it alone. talisman’s participation in the plant opened up access to a wide range of shale gas assets in northeastern british Columbia, but both partners remain in a 50/50 joint venture on several Montney gas properties. with those assets still in place, sasol has little interest in seeking a new partner on the gtl plant. “generally speaking, when we partner, we like to get some other benefit rather than just sharing risk or getting access to additional capital,” he says.

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Inspirational infrastructure wondering where the most aweinspiring infrastructure projects can be found? look no further than Calgary. two projects from the city were included in a list of 100 innovative urban infrastructure developments from around the globe. Only four other Canadian projects made the list, published in a report by kPMg. the Calgary international Airport redevelopment was selected as part of the global connectivity category, while the education section highlighted sAit Polytechnic’s trades and technology Complex. (read more about the project on page 31.) kPMg describes the list as “innovative and inspiring examples of infrastructure projects that make great cities—places where people want to live and do business.” Judges based their selection on five criteria: scale, feasibility, technical or financial complexity, innovation and social impact.

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nuts & bolts


A student tests his carpentry talents at the Skills Canada National Competition in Edmonton.

Trades careers showcased at skill competition two mechanical titans are duking it out in the ring. From the sidelines, their teams shout out instructions. tempers flare. things are getting heated. the competition between robotics teams at the skills Canada national

Competition is nothing if not intense. After a bit of unnecessary roughness, the referee even has to be called in to put an end to the match. One of the competitors—a little motorized cart with a robotic claw on top—has to be taken away for repairs. the 18th annual competition, held in mid-May in Edmonton, brought together 500 students from across the country to show off their skills. in addition to the everpopular robotics category, students competed in over 40 different fields, from the

culinary arts to welding and heavy equipment servicing. in the end, just 35 students would be chosen to form the national team heading to germany in 2013 to represent Canada at the international level. however, it’s not all fun and robots. More than a competition, the event is also a massive living advertisement for a career in the skilled trades. thousands of visitors attend the four-day affair—organizers estimate around 20,000—including many students curious to learn about the various professions on display. that’s largely what attracted Cenovus Energy inc. to serve as a presenting sponsor for the competition this year. with plans to ramp up production at its Christina lake and Foster Creek oilsands projects in the coming years, the company is looking ahead to the inevitable staffing challenges. “right now, we’re doing okay,” says Vicki reid, director of community affairs for Cenovus. “we’ve realized that five to 10 years out, that’s when we’re going to start getting into trouble.” Offhand, reid cites a big need for power engineers, instrumentation technicians, welders, electricians and construction workers. but the competition also covers what could be considered the invisible trades of Alberta’s energy industry— invaluable supporting fields like the culinary arts, for instance. Cenovus is acutely aware of the importance of such roles in maintaining a healthy, successful work camp. “it’s not just the catering—our uniforms need cleaning, we need landscaping and we need road clearing,” reid says. “Even if we don’t directly hire some of these trades, the third-party contractors support our business.”

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Alberta Construction Magazine | 17

nuts & bolts

Employees may not be cowering in their cubicles over fear of losing their lunch money, but that doesn’t mean bullying isn’t a workplace problem. According to a survey from the society for human resource Management, 73 per cent of workers have reported verbal abuse, ranging from shouting to name calling or malicious sarcasm. Calgary’s inspired hr inc. is fighting back with the help of the respect group inc. and its respect in the workplace program. but debby Carreau, chief executive officer of inspired hr, believes the first challenge is getting companies to acknowledge the problem exists. “For many years, organizations and hr managers predominantly identified harassment [as] sexual harassment, but other types of bullying and discrimination can be equally damaging to employee morale and business performance,” she says. when ignored, workplace bullying can drag down morale and increase stress. Carreau believes this isn’t just a problem for individual employees—it’s the equivalent of an atomic wedgie to the corporate bottom line. “businesses who invest in training their staff effectively and demonstrating a zero tolerance for workplace bullying see a significant return on their investment through employee productivity, retention and word of mouth in the community,” she says.

$2.4 million total amount of fines charged to Perera development Corp. and Perera shawnee ltd. in relation to the death of a trucker on a construction site in 2008. An improperly supported wall of dirt and rock 15 metres high collapsed on the man and his truck, crushing him and killing him almost instantly. Source: Calgary Herald

$ $1 million Amount of a donation received by sAit Polytechnic from burnCO as part of the company’s centennial celebration.

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18 | Fall 2012


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| AROUND CaNaDa 402, NuMBer oF Square FeeT of a new Maple leaf Foods meat processing plant being built by bird Construction inc. in hamilton, Ont. the plant, to be completed in 2014, is expected to achieve leadership in Energy and Environmental design silver certification.

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billiOn aeCoN group iNC.’S backlog as of May 31. that compares with $2.379 billion as of March 31. SOURCE: AECON GROUP INC.

CoMMerCiaL operaTioN of the Cape scott wind Farm in british Columbia is scheduled to begin in 2013. Phase 1 of the 99-megawatt wind farm—located 35 kilometres west of Port hardy on northern Vancouver island, within the territories of the quatsino, tlatlasikwala and kwakiutl First nations—is now complete. Vancouver-based sea breeze Power Corp. operates the project, which is expected to generate enough power to meet the annual electricity needs of about 100,000 british Columbians.


BriDge To CoNSTruCTioN oF a SeCoND BriDge linking windsor, Ont., with detroit could create 10,000–15,000 construction jobs in Ontario and Michigan. the windsor-detroit trade corridor is singularly the most important between the two countries, with more than $1.7-billion worth of goods and services crossing the Canadau.s. border daily, according to federal government statistics. the project includes the bridge, inspection plazas on both sides of the border and a highway interchange in Michigan. Construction is expected to take four to five years. the total cost is estimated at between $3.5 billion and $4 billion. the current Ambassador bridge has linked both cities since 1929.

MONTREAL SKYLINE aT 50 SToreyS, l’Avenue is slated to become the tallest residential building in Montreal. broccolini Construction, a quebec-based construction company and real estate developer, purchased the development site in the city’s downtown for $14.1 million in February in partnership with Carttera Private Equities inc. the estimated price tag of the project is $200 million, according to broccolini. l’Avenue will be built on avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal directly across from the bell Centre. it will contain 350 residences, ranging from 500 to 1,500 square feet. units will sell from the mid-$200,000s and up.

Alberta Construction Magazine | 23


Nowhere to go but

Fort McMurray unveils a plan to get its stagnating downtown core out of a tight corner


By Jim Bentein

24 | Fall 2012


Fort McMurray, Alta.—now a city of almost 80,000 people—has doubled in population in the last 15 years, with equally dramatic growth expected in the next two decades. But just try to find a dry cleaner or a shoe repair shop there. Complaints about shortages of stores and professional services commonplace to other similarly sized Canadian cities are frequent in Fort Mac. Even the mayor complains. “We don’t have a shoe repair person in Fort McMurray and we have one dry cleaner,” says Melissa Blake, mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, of which Fort McMurray is a part.

The municipality estimates the oilsands boom town’s existing population could easily support three times its current retail base. The city needs as much as two million square feet of new office space to come online by 2015. Enter the municipality’s City Centre Area Redevelopment Plan, which is based on a multi-use approach for the downtown core where retail and commercial space, downtown residences and schools, and recreational space would coexist. It envisions the population of the core, which extends four kilometres from the MacDonald Island Park recreation complex to the Waterways neighbourhood

This is how downtown Fort McMurray looked before the boom— way before the boom, in fact. This view is along Main Street, circa 1920s.

Alberta Construction Magazine | 25

commercial in the south, growing from about 13,000 now to 48,000 by 2030. Most of that population growth and new retail and office space would be accommodated by allowing zoning changes that would allow downtown buildings to grow to heights of over 20 storeys in several parts of the core. Currently, the tallest building downtown is nine storeys. The city plans to develop a number of “catalyst projects,” such as new municipal offices downtown to kick-start the transformation of the core. A new performing arts centre and convention centre are included in the plans, as is an expansion of MacDonald Island. “You’ll see the face of our downtown change,” says Blake, adding that it will look more like a “real city” with downtown high-rises. Fort McMurray began life as a furtrading post first established in 1870. Bounded by the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers and an arm of the Clearwater known as the Snye (as well as the Hangingstone River), the downtown area might have been a wonderful launching pad for canoes and Hudson’s Bay Company traders,

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commercial but it hasn’t exactly been conducive to allowing for growth in a city projected to reach 200,000 residents and beyond in the future. In fact, as the municipality’s 94-page planning document points out, the population of the downtown core, reflecting those limitations, actually dropped from 25 per cent of the city’s total in 1999 to just 16 per cent now. If the plan is successful, it would see that decline reversed. Chris Naudi of the city centre community development team for the municipality says growth has occurred in a somewhat haphazard way over the years. “The downtown core has strip malls, low-rise apartments, some office space and restaurants, and even single-family homes,” he says. “What we’re looking at is revitalizing our city centre to make it a lively place where people will live, shop and play.” The plan would allow for walking and bike paths and would help create a “transit-friendly” downtown, he says. Densities dow ntow n wou ld be increased significantly by an allowance for multi-use buildings, where people

would live in high-rises and where stores and offices would coexist. Naudi says the city will literally “grow up,” as high-rises replace houses and strip malls. “That’s what people expect to see in a city centre,” says the planner, who moved to Fort McMurray from Toronto five years ago. “When you think of a city centre you think of transit, cafés, recreation and highrise buildings.” There are also elementary and high schools downtown, as well as a campus of Keyano College, and they would continue to be a part of a vibrant core, Naudi says. The president of both the local chapter of the Urban Development Institute and the Wood Buffalo Housing & Development Corporation endorses the ambitious plan for Fort McMurray’s downtown core, although not without a few caveats. “It’s aggressive and it’s supported, but I don’t know if it’s achievable,” Bryan Lutes says. “It’s looking for a lot of large developments, and there are only certain groups that have the capacity to build in Fort McMurray.” The problem is cost.

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The city has a reputation for having some of Canada’s highest housing costs— an average single-family home can run more than $750,000—and commercial and retail land is no different. “You need a minimum of three-acre lots to build on and lots downtown cost $3 million to $5 million an acre,” he says. With high-rises costing from $200 million to $300 million to build, Lutes is concerned about finding builders with deep enough pockets to support the plan. “The only investors who can do that are pension funds because they have the ability to be more flexible,” he says. The difficulty with attracting that kind of investment to the oilsands boom town is just that—its image as an oil boom town. “I’ve been at some real estate conferences and the lenders have lending issues with Fort McMurray because they see the risks as being higher,” Lutes says. “We’re viewed as a one-product town.” Lutes says that will likely change as the city grows to a population of 200,000 or more “because we’ll have our own internal economy.” Still, that remains a long way in the future, he admits.

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SAIT Polytechnic’s new Trades and Technology Complex is expected to help meet Alberta’s growing skilled labour needs By Diane L.M. Cook

Photos: SAIT Polytechnic

As Alberta’s construction industry continues to heat up, the province is expecting the current shortage of skilled workers to only get worse. Baby boomers will continue to retire in the coming decade while more oilsands projects are expected to come on stream, driving labour demand even higher. This shortage has left a huge gap between the number of students Alberta’s academic institutions pump out every year and the number of new employees the oil and gas industry is looking to hire—a fact not lost on SAIT Polytechnic, which could not accommodate all of the students applying to the institution. So, in 2006, the seed was planted to construct new buildings. Alberta Construction Magazine | 31


That seed has grown into the Trades and Technology Complex. When the project began, the school was turning away qualified applicants due to a lack of space. Irene Lewis, SAIT’s president and chief executive officer, says, “That, combined with the fact that baby boomers are passing the torch to a new generation of engineers, earth scientists, technologists, trades workers and support personnel, meant SAIT must be ready to respond.” The new Trades and Technology Complex will add over 740,000 square feet to the school’s northwest Calgary campus to accommodate an additional 8,100 full- and part-time students each year in career-oriented training. “A trained and competent workforce is in high demand across all industries—and in Alberta, we naturally have a great focus on the oil and gas sector, which helps fuel the economy 32 | Fall 2012

of this province,” Lewis says. “It is our responsibility at SAIT to meet the education and training requirements of this evolving workforce.” Considering the complex her “dream piece,” Lewis says, “I feel great pride—pride in our employees, in the contractors and architects we worked with, and pride in our students, who will get so much out of this new complex.” The Trades and Technology Complex is comprised of three buildings: the Aldred Centre, the Johnson-Cobbe Energy Centre and the Cenovus Energy Centre. Construction began in September 2009 and will finish this fall, with a total cost of $400 million ($300 million was contributed from the Alberta government and $100 million was donated by individuals and companies).


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The Aldred Centre is one of three buildings that comprise the Trades and Technology Complex.

Teaching tool Calgary’s Gibbs Gage Architects designed the complex. Vincent Dods, a partner at the firm, says, “We employ a large number of SAIT graduates at Gibbs Gage and thus understand the value of a good education, the value that the SAIT grads provide and their contribution to the quality of the projects they work on.” The architectural firm’s inspiration for the project’s design was taken from the campus itself. “The original campus structures were predominantly masonry based,” Dods says. “Our goal was to reinterpret the original design, using current materials and technology to seamlessly unify both past and present design themes.” The design is also meant to accommodate both present and future uses for the builldings. The loading capacities of the

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Alberta Construction Magazine | 33


gibbs gage Architects designed the trades and technology Complex.

sAit searching for new ion construct dean

the long-time leader of sAit Polytechnic’s construction school is heading east, leaving the school looking for a new permanent head. in the meantime, lee haldeman has taken on the role of acting dean while the school searches for a replacement for larry rosia, who is moving on after 13 years as dean. Effective July 1, rosia became the new president and chief executive officer of the saskatchewan institute of Applied science and technology (siAst), where he says his first priority will be to take stock of the current landscape and learn more about the school’s future aspirations. Announcing the move, rosia lauded the institution, saying, “siAst has made significant strides in providing responsible and relevant technical education, in supporting aboriginal student success and in international education.” Pam schwann, siAst board chair, says the school chose rosia “because of his track record for innovation, his commitment to meeting the needs of stakeholders and his experience in developing partnerships.” rosia’s biggest accomplishments at sAit include his contributions to the trades and technology Complex and the development of Canada’s first bachelor of science degree in construction project management.

34 | Fall 2012

floors and freight elevators are designed to service the complex needs of the various instructional programs, while also anticipating unexpected future requirements as additional programs are developed. The freight elevators can even accommodate forklift traffic. The buildings will also have educational value in their own right thanks to one eye-catching element. “One set of passenger elevators in each wing is provided with glass-front panels and transoms to showcase the mechanical functioning of the elevator hoistways,” Dods says. “This design feature further identifies the buildings themselves as teaching tools.” PCL Construction Management Inc. is the primary contractor for the complex and Derek Pearce, senior project manager, believes the Trades and Technology Complex encompasses many innovative and green features. “Several sustainable elements are incorporated into the design and construction of the Trades and Technology Complex, which will result in a LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] Silver certification,” he says. According to Pearce, SAIT is targeting a minimum savings of 27 per cent overall energy use through innovative designs in the mechanical and electrical systems and high-efficiency building envelope. He also notes that “the project is on target to achieve over 90 per cent of all waste being diverted from landfill and sent to recycling facilities.” The expected life cycle of the building systems and envelope is between 40 and 50 years with regular maintenance, and the building structure should last over 100 years under proper care and protection.

institutional An integrated green building education program will allow occupants and visitors to learn about and see the various sustainable aspects of the complex through digital display systems and guided tours of the buildings. Three buildings Once completed, each of the three buildings in the complex will house various schools and centres: Named after John and Cheryl Aldred for their $10-million donation to the complex, the Aldred Centre is 440,000 square feet and houses the school of construction and the school of manufacturing and automation. The new Enerplus Centre for Innovation will also call the Aldred Centre home and will feature custom-designed spaces to accommodate specialized equipment for technology development, testing and validation. The MacPhail School of Energy will be housed in the 273,000-square-foot Johnson-Cobbe Energy Centre, which is named after David and Barbara Johnson and Murray and Connie Cobbe for their respective $5-million donations. Included in this building are the Ramsay Centre for Petroleum Engineering Technology, named after Doug and Susan Ramsay for their $3-million donation, and the Mathison Drilling and Geosciences lab suite, named after Ron Mathison for his $1-million donation. The lab will feature an interactive 3-D drilling simulator to provide students with virtual rig and drilling operations training. Finally, Cenovus Energy Inc. earned naming rights for the Cenovus Energy Centre with its $3-million donation. The 40,000-square-foot centre will be home to power engineering students in the MacPhail School of Energy, allowing SAIT to more than triple the number of power engineering graduates by 2016. That last point is likely of special interest to the province’s expanding oilsands industry. A May report from the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada estimates employment in the oilsands will jump 29 per cent between 2011 and 2015—an increase of approximately 5,850 jobs. Many of those positions will be filled by power engineers, who operate and maintain oilsands plants and equipment, such as the high-pressure boilers needed in steam generation. An increasing amount of oilsands production is coming from companies like Cenovus, which use in situ methods like steam assisted gravity drainage to produce the bitumen, creating a higher demand for power engineers. “I think the $300-million contribution from the Government of Alberta to fund this project says it all,” Lewis says. “That strong vote of confidence guarantees the Alberta advantage for future generations by building a stronger, more robust, more flexible post-secondary system for our province.” While Lewis recognizes the economy has cooled down somewhat in the last few years—certainly in comparison to the boom years before the 2008 global economic crash—activity is expected to heat up very quickly. “We know there will be an upswing across all sectors before too long, as that is the cycle,” she says.

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infrastructure the energy issue


Despite high-profile pipeline spills, additional construction expected in 2013-14


By Godfrey Budd the province’s pipeline construction sector in general, and the largediameter pipe part of the business in particular, got a booster shot of optimism with the news in May that TransCanada Corporation had submitted a new application for the Keystone XL project to the U.S. Department of State. TransCanada’s new application seems virtually certain to get the necessary U.S. approvals, some observers say.

“The Keystone will go—as early as a year from now,” says Wes Waschuk, president of Waschuk Pipeline Construction Ltd. “All the pipe is ready and stockpiled at sites for the Canadian section. It’s bought [and] costed. It’s at sites along the right-of-way.” Currently, in Alberta, the level of activity in the pipeline construction sector varies—depending on the region and whether it’s mostly oil or mostly gas. If it’s oil, at Alberta Construction Magazine | 37

around $90 per barrel, it’s busy; but with natural gas prices close to record lows, not so much. For the large-diameter pipe sector, 2012 so far has been slower than expected, but an upswing in activity appears likely for 2013 because of continued oilsands growth. “A lot of projects are on the table for 2013,” Waschuk says. “The projects are almost all oil. Just about all the big pipeline operators have projects on the books for the next 12 months. There’s a significant number of pipe projects [coming] from the Fort McMurray [Alta.] region. That’s 90 per cent of the driver of [new] largediameter pipe in the country.” He expects that most of the new large pipeline projects between now and 2015 will be built to accommodate increased oil shipping capacity requirements. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), in its latest Crude Oil Forecast and Market Outlook released in June, points to factors in addition to oilsands development that could drive some of the new pipeline construction in the next few years. “Growing conventional, oil shale and oilsands production has created an urgent 38 | Fall 2012

need for additional transportation infrastructure. Steps are being taken to address this need through a number of project proposals including new pipelines, expansions or modifications of existing infrastructure and increased transportation by rail,” states the CAPP forecast. In the short term, it says, increased reliance on rail transport to ship crude will be necessary until new pipeline capacity is in place. The oilsands is not the only gamechanging development in the continent’s oil industry that is creating a need for new pipelines and other infrastructure. Shale oil development is still in its infancy in Canada, but in the United States it is redrawing the country’s energy picture dramatically. For instance, less than a decade ago, shale oil production from the Bakken formation in North Dakota and the Texas Eagle Ford was negligible. Now, energy analysts are saying that production from the two regions will likely total around 2.5 million barrels per day by 2015. (That’s around three per cent of current global oil daily production.) In Alberta, these technologies are giving new life to some old fields—and boosting the need for more pipe.

exceeding expectations As the CAPP forecast says, “Higher than expected production from Alberta and Saskatchewan conventional oil developments; the growth in North Dakota Bakken production, and new U.S. shale (Niobrara, Eagle Ford, etc.) production have added to the challenges to be resolved regarding the transportation of growing oilsands production.” The forecast says that oilsands production will rise from 1.61 million barrels per day in 2011 to 2.3 million barrels per day by 2015, with conventional production going from 1.13 million to 1.33 million barrels per day, bringing the total from 2.74 million in 2011 to 3.63 million barrels per day from western Canada by 2015. A CAPP analysis concludes that more pipeline capacity is required by 2014. Besides Keystone, the two other most prominent oil pipeline proposals are for Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway, which would ship oilsands crude from Bruderheim, Alta., to Kitimat, B.C., (500,000-plus barrels per day) and the Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. expansion. The latter involves another pipe for additional capacity of up to 450,000 barrels per day on an existing right-of-way



infrastructure along which 300,000 barrels are currently shipped from Edmonton to Vancouver. Assuming environmental reviews and other permitting hurdles are cleared, both pipelines would likely be in operation by 2017, according to CAPP. The Kinder Morgan expansion appears likely to go ahead. Gateway is another matter, as it appears to have the potential for sparking as much or even more controversy than there has yet been around the oilsands. Other major pipeline projects include a proposed capacity expansion of Enbridge’s Athabasca line to accommodate requirements of the Christina Lake oilsands project operated by Cenovus Energy Inc. The lion’s share of the work on this, for which an application was filed in May, involves replacing pumps and boosting motor horsepower on existing stations and adding four new pump stations. The Athabasca pipeline transports crude from various oilsands plants to the main terminal at Hardisty. Some of the projects in the works are for shipping natural gas liquids, which are used for diluent when oilsands crude that has not been upgraded is sent down the pipe. Pembina Pipeline Corporation is developing a $200-million natural gas liquids–extraction facility in the Berland area, about 60 kilometres south of Fox Creek, Alta. “Subject to regulatory and environmental approval, Pembina expects the Saturn facility and associated pipelines to be in service in the fourth quarter of 2013,” said Jason Fydirchuk, a spokesman for Pembina, in an email. The company is developing a similar project, known as the Resthaven facility, in west-central Alberta, which will pipe natural gas liquids to Edmonton. Plant site construction has begun, and, subject to provincial regulatory approvals, the company expects the $230-million facility and pipeline to be in service by the end of 2013. Another oilsands-related pipeline will begin shipping up to 972 million cubic feet per day of natural gas by spring 2013 provided a TransCanada/Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. project meets the 22 conditions set out by the National Energy Board in late June. The Leismer to Kettle River Crossover project will ship the gas along a 77-kilometre pipe through sensitive caribou habitat to fuel thermal

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under scrutiny Many of these, and other pipeline projects, are increasingly under the microscope amidst concerns about a spate of pipeline leaks and spills in Alberta. Also, the recent comparison by a senior U.S. regulator of Enbridge’s handling of the spill in Michigan two years ago, when 840,000 gallons of heavy crude spilled into the Kalamazoo River, to the “Keystone Kops” was perhaps not reassuring. Another Enbridge pipeline spill in Wisconsin on July 27 this year, although smaller, could hardly have helped the company’s image, either. A coalition of 17 landowner and environmental groups launched a campaign in June calling on the province to begin a review of the way aging oil and gas pipelines are being managed and regulated, especially ones crossing rivers. In the five weeks prior, three oil spills had occurred in Alberta, including a break in a Plains Midstream Canada ULC line that poured about 450,000 litres of oil into the Red Deer River. The energy minister and the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) responded by apparently defending industry, with an ERCB spokesman saying to a Calgary Herald reporter, “It’s not like companies are actively trying to sidestep regulation.” The premier was more conciliatory toward the coalition, hinting there could be a review. Barely a month later, it was industry’s turn to step up to the plate for the province.


oilsands projects in the Kirby area near Cold Lake, Alta. The new line will replace older, smaller-diameter pipe.


“The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association [CEPA] strongly supports the announcement made by Alberta’s minister of energy this morning regarding a comprehensive review of pipeline integrity programs, watercourse crossings and emergency-response plans,” declared a July 20 CEPA news release. Earlier that day, Alberta’s Energy Minister Ken Hughes announced that an independent agency would begin a review of pipeline safety in the province. Pipeline operators like Pembina point to various measures in place, but, in recent years, there have been no significant new rules for pipeline safety in the province. In his email, Pembina’s Fydirchuk pointed to pipeline integrity monitoring and other safety systems in place, but said he was unable to provide specifics on what he described as “technical safety procedures.” The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) sets engineering and design criteria for pipelines in Canada. The CSA recently moved from a stress-based to a strainbased design approach for pipelines. But a challenge that pipeline operators face is ambiguity in the data—a factor that some believe had a role in Enbridge’s Michigan debacle two years ago. “Monitoring can now use data that includes the ductility factor, not just its psi rating and strength,” says Iain Weir-Jones, president of WeirJones Engineering Consultants Ltd. In general, a wider range of data points, which includes hoop strain, product flow and pressure, he says, can remove some of the ambiguity, provided the monitoring of these potentially vital pieces of information is properly coordinated.


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Alberta Construction Magazine | 41


the energy issue

Downgrading Alberta government refines its stance toward building bitumen upgraders in the province By Jim Bentein

42 | Fall 2012

Whatever happened to the great upgrader boom that never was? In 2010, then–Alberta energy minister Ron Liepert said the government wanted to keep 65 per cent of bitumen in the province for upgrading. At the time, the province estimated it had access to potentially 400,000 barrels per day of bitumen under its Bitumen Royalty in-Kind (BRIK) program, which it could use to encourage development. Skip ahead just a couple of years and the debate about domestic upgrading has been laid to rest in the halls of power, even as it still rages on in the offices of industry. Since taking his post in April, Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes has signalled his lack of interest in getting involved in luring new upgrading capacity to the province. He argues that North America has adequate capacity to handle growing bitumen production from the oilsands, making it unlikely that the government will encourage new upgrader construction within the province.

On top of that, the former businessman says Alberta’s tight labour market is likely to get even tighter as new oilsands projects are built. For the minister, that’s a good argument against the government taking any unusual measures to encourage upgrading. “I’m an entrepreneur and I’ve seen what it’s like in other industries [faced with labour shortages],” he says. “When we have a tight labour market in the oilsands, do we really want to see something like 2008 again?” Hughes asks, referencing the labour shortage and cost escalation suffered by the oilsands industry just before the global financial crisis cooled down construction. The minister’s stance contrasts starkly with that of the government under former premier Ed Stelmach, which was a strong advocate of the BRIK program. Under BRIK, oilsands producers could contribute bitumen instead of royalties to the government. But Hughes and his boss, Premier Alison Redford, are making it clear there


the upgraders


At peak construction, the north west upgrader, expected to be built at this site near redwater, Alta., could create 8,000 jobs.

Alberta Construction Magazine | 43

feature will be no plan beyond BRIK to encourage upgrader development. And even then, the minister is hesitant to get involved unless necessary. “We are fully prepared to use a strategic asset like BRIK if we need to prime the pump, but it needs to be in the public interest,” Hughes says. The new minister also does not share the previous government’s concern about bitumen leaving the province to be processed in upgraders and refineries in the United States. “There’s no need for us to be involved if we have diverse markets for our products,” he says.

Big projects coming Jointly owned by North West Upgrading Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources Limited, the North West upgrader will access feedstock through the BRIK program. The Alberta government has agreed to provide 37,500 barrels per day of bitumen for the $5-billion first phase of the project, located near Redwater, Alta. Canadian Natural will provide another 12,500 barrels per day of bitumen from its Horizon oilsands plant and other assets. North West expects to complete the first phase of the upgrader by late 2014 or 2015, with a second phase of 50,000

have a BRIK component. The 200,000barrel-per-day facility is owned by Suncor Energy Inc. and Total SA, divided 51 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively. It is expected to cost as much as $20 billion. While still in the early stages, the project is starting to move forward. In the first quarter of 2012, the companies were finalizing the scope of the project, developing an execution plan and preparing the site for construction, Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal says. Bird Construction Inc. has been awarded a $69-million contract to do foundation and groundwork on that

“She [Premier Redford] doesn’t seem all that enthused [about BRIK and other incentives].” — Neil Shelly, executive director, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association

bird Construction has been awarded a contract to do foundation and groundwork on the Voyageur upgrader project, which was stopped by the global economic slowdown. but a firm date for start-up is still unknown.

44 | Fall 2012

barrels per day already announced. A third phase could possibly follow further down the road. At peak, the company estimates the project could create 8,000 construction jobs. So far, several companies have already signed up to take part in the mammoth undertaking, with PCL Industrial Management Inc. and SNCLavalin Group Inc. both providing project management services. In contrast, the province’s other planned upgrading project—Voyageur—does not

project, which would be located at Suncor’s plant site near Fort McMurray, Alta. Seetal says site preparation has begun and work on concrete foundations, earthworks and underground piping will continue through 2013. The upside to upgraders Such major construction projects bring with them inevitable economic spinoffs, including added government revenue, argues North West chairman Ian MacGregor.


The Redford government has already rejected one request for BRIK involvement in an upgrader. In February, Teedrum Inc. announced its 125,000-barrel-per-day upgrader had been deemed not economically viable by the province. The fate of the $6.6-billion facility is now in doubt. However, Hughes still sees progress on the upgrading front. “There are five upgraders in Alberta today, and the North West upgrader is going ahead and it looks like Voyageur is going ahead, too,” he says. “These are very big projects.”

feature He says the economics of upgrading are even more justified now than when the North West project was first proposed six years ago because of the differential—what processed bitumen could sell for versus what it fetches raw. “The margins have been high, and if this plant had been in production last year, the Alberta government would have earned about $500 million more than it would have by just selling raw bitumen,” he said recently. “They are taking our raw bitumen in Houston and turning it into diesel for export. There is no reason why we can’t export diesel directly from Alberta.”

MacGregor claims upgraders can multiply the value of bitumen by as much as 2 ½ times. The Alberta Federation of Labour, which represents the province’s unionized construction workers, is also a supporter of measures to stimulate the construction of more upgraders. It helped fund a report that concludes just four new upgraders would create 52,000 person-years of direct construction employment, 4,000 permanent jobs and 12,000 jobs dedicated Alberta Construction Magazine | 45

feature The Voyageur upgrader site is located just north of Fort McMurray.

“there will be volatility”

46 | Fall 2012

to the supply and maintenance of those upgraders. The report suggests the provincial government would bring in $440 million a year in tax revenue if the upgraders were built, while the federal government would see $780 million a year added to its coffers. The nays have it However, not everyone shares the proupgrader mindset. For example, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) was cool towards the BRIK deal for North West when it was announced 18 months ago. At the time, CAPP oilsands and markets vice-president Greg Stringham said it appeared as if the government was providing an “incentive” to get the project built—one CAPP didn’t feel was necessary. About 62 per cent of the bitumen produced in the province was being upgraded within Alberta at the time the announcement was made, according to Stringham. “We have over a million barrels a day of upgrading capacity in Alberta,” he says. The North West and Voyageur projects would add to that total.


Alberta Energy Minister ken hughes is not worried about volatile oil prices leading to a significant decline in energy-related investments in the province, arguing that companies are unlikely to pull the plugs on multi-billion dollar oilsands projects because of short-term price swings. “we’re price takers as far as energy production is concerned,” he told Alberta Construction Magazine. “we know from experience there will be volatility in the price of oil, and that’s the reality we live with. the larger projects are based on long-term perspectives, and the assumptions about prices are built into the projects.” because of the growing concerns about the fate of the eurozone economy and a deepening recession in peripheral countries, such as greece and spain, along with slowing growth in the developing world, oil prices have swung widely in the first half of the year. brent and west texas intermediate (wti) reference prices were both well over $100 a barrel earlier in the year and both have lately traded well under $100 a barrel, with some commodities experts saying wti could dip below $70 this year and remain there for months. in addition, because of a lack of pipeline access, Alberta heavy crudes have been trading at discounts from wti of $15–$20. while these lower prices have an impact on Alberta government revenues—a $1 drop in prices could reduce the government’s royalty and tax income by $100 million or more—hughes seems sanguine about the longer-term strength of the province’s energy industry. Much of that confidence appears to be based on the billions of dollars being invested in long-lived oilsands projects. however, hughes is concerned about the lack of access for Alberta oil and bitumen to markets in the united states, Asia and elsewhere. “the reality is [that] Alberta and saskatchewan are landlocked jurisdictions,” he said. “that’s why the government of Alberta supports all efforts to increase that access.” but while the government is pro-development, hughes said it must be balanced. “we have to perform at an exceptionally high level of environmental oversight,” he said. “As we do that, we have to help the rest of the world understand what we’re doing, so we’re not [vulnerable to] unfair and inaccurate attacks.”


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Meanwhile, U.S. refiners either have spent or will spend more than $30 billion to expand or retrofit existing refineries to process bitumen and heavy crudes. And a report by consultants Strategy West Inc. concludes it will cost 30–50 per cent less to add coking capacity to existing refineries in the United States than to build greenfield upgraders in Alberta. Neil Shelly, executive director of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association, seems to have resigned himself to the provincial government’s hands-off attitude regarding upgraders. “She [Premier Redford] doesn’t seem all that enthused [about BRIK and other incentives],” he says. After talking to Hughes, Shelly got the impression that BRIK may fade away. He believes the provincial government will only act to promote upgrader construction if it believes a “catalyst” is needed. “I think the horse has already left the barn,” Shelly says, rattling off the names of the upgraders he expects to see built in the province. It’s a short list. “We’ll get North West and Voyageur,” he says.



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Alberta Construction Magazine | 47


Western Construction Products A Unique Business Model to Better Serve the Infrastructure Industry


an you imagine being able to purchase all the products you need for your infrastructure projects from a single supplier? Precast concrete, PVC and HDPE pipe, valves and fittings, hydrants and cast iron on a single quote; better prices because you’re dealing with the manufacturer directly on a larger number of products; shipping logistics simplified and optimized through having a single person manage the delivery of all your supplies with your project manager; and reduced administrative and accounting costs through dealing with only one set of invoices. Sounds too good to be true? Well it isn’t! Since mid-June, Western

Construction Products (WCP) offers exactly that to the Alberta market, through its Calgary and Edmonton locations. This approach to the market is unique in Canada. It is the best sourcing option yet for contractors working on infrastructure projects, large or small. WCP is the offspring of a joint venture between Proform Precast Products Inc. of Red Deer (AB) and the Brunet Concrete Group of Valleyfield (QC). Proform is a household name in the infrastructure industry in Alberta and has recently reorganized into two separate operational companies. Proform Concrete Services Inc. is a contracting company specializing in curb, gutter, sidewalk, barriers, and concrete paving. Proform Precast Products


Inc. has been supplying precast concrete products to its customers for more than 25 years. Its precast plant is located in Red Deer. “We are very excited about the launch of Western Construction Products. It will be a game changer,” said Curtis Bouteiller, CEO of Proform. “By joining forces with Distribution Brunet to put forward this unique initiative, we are now in a position to offer our clients a complete line of products for their infrastructure projects, alongside the precast concrete products we have been manufacturing for 25 years.” The Brunet Concrete Group has been supplying infrastructure products in Eastern Canada for more than 85 years. It owns and operates 8 precast concrete plants, a

PVC pipe plant, and a network of 15 distribution centers from Ontario to Newfoundland, with a strong presence in southern Florida. Brunet also owns and operates a metal fabrication plant for custom-made industrial equipment for the mining, oil and gas, chemical and power generation industries. “Entering the Alberta market has been part of our growth strategy for some time. We feel privileged to team up with Proform to take this important step in the development of our global presence in Canada,” said Alain Huot, VP and General Manager of Distribution Brunet (the water works subsidiary of Brunet Concrete Group). “We are looking forward to serving new clients in this fast growing market.”

You can reach the Western Construction Products team at 5803 - 36 Street S.E. in Calgary and at 12844 - 149 Street in Edmonton. Please visit for more details.

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A dump truck that keeps a low profile

The new line of rear-eject dump trucks from Philippi-Hagenbuch, Inc. uses a blade to push material out of the back end of the vehicle.


Alberta metal projects golden at national steel awards it was a clean sweep for Alberta at the national steel design Awards, with top honours going to three major construction projects from the province this year. held every two years by the Canadian institute of steel Construction, the competition recognizes the best steel projects from across the country in three different categories: engineering, architecture and sustainability. top prize in the architecture category went to the Art gallery of Alberta—itself a former winner in Alberta Construction Magazine’s very own top Projects Awards. the Edmonton project was singled out for its “sinuous stainless steel surfaces and complex curving geometry inspired by the aurora borealis,” according to the award announcement. the bow in Calgary won the engineering category, with the judges praising its “open structure, sustainable functionality and striking aesthetics.” the rehabilitation of Edmonton’s dawson bridge topped the sustainability category. the project was lauded for its use of lightweight composite steel plate with an elastomer deck system, which allowed designers to strengthen the bridge while restoring the nearly 100-year-old structure to its former glory.

if old-fashioned dump trucks just aren’t cutting it anymore, you may want to take a look at a new line of rear-eject bodies from Philippi-hagenbuch, inc. whereas a traditional dump truck needs overhead space in order to tilt up and release its contents, the rear-eject system simply pushes everything out of the back of the truck using a blade. the system is geared toward applications where power lines, bridges or other potential hazards may limit the amount of clearance available overhead. in addition, the system can be used while the truck is in motion. the company says the rear-eject body is easily adaptable to any make or model of off-highway or rigid-frame trucks. More information can be found at

hOw tO submit items does your company have news about personnel changes or new products? Or did it just land a new project in Alberta? we want to know about it. here’s how to get your news to us. email itemS to: or SeNd it to: Assistant Editor, Alberta Construction Magazine, 220-9303 34 Ave. nw Edmonton, Ab t6E 5w8 or Fax to: 780-944-9500 Please include the full name and location of the company.

Alberta Construction Magazine | 51

people, products, projects

this shark prefers dry land to water. good thing it’s a vegetarian. the bradco ground shark from the Paladin Construction group is a heavy-duty brush cutter designed to attach to skid steers. with its 72-inch cutting width, the ground shark is made to devour ground vegetation and brush, as well as saplings up to seven inches in diameter. when it does encounter an object it can’t handle, the cutter’s four blades rotate in to avoid unnecessary wear and tear. stump-grinding carbide teeth are also available as an option. For more information, visit

Bird Construction lays down the law in Fort Macleod bird Construction inc. will be building the new Alberta Public safety and law Enforcement training Centre in Fort Macleod, Alta. the $95-million facility will include everything from classrooms and accommodations to indoor and outdoor firing ranges. A driving course and recreational areas will also be situated on the 320-acre campus. Construction will begin later in the summer of this year and is expected to finish by fall 2014.

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Compact kit organizes hole saws rooting around a messy toolkit can be a pain—particularly if you unwittingly grab that lost saw blade you were looking for. A new line of mini kits from lEnOx tools should help keep things a little more organized in the toolbox. the kits are designed to hold the company’s various bimetal speed slot hole saws. sized at nine inches by 5.25 inches— and 3.5 inches thick—the kit is designed to fit easily into tool bags. And while it may sound small in size, it can hold up to six hole saws. tradespeople can choose between three different customized kits, depending on their line of work—electrician, plumber and contractor. Every kit features a selection of hole saws commonly used in each profession, as well as two different-sized arbors. Visit for details.

RAISING THE BAR Alberta Wilbert Sales has raised the bar with our pre-engineered lift station systems. All our systems are built and safety-tested prior to installation. They feature a 20-year warranty and are CSA approved. Your lift station is ready to be delivered and installed. Call 1-800-232-7385 today. Alberta Wilbert Sales has been providing the highest quality lift stations, tanks and oil & grit separators for over four decades.

Edmonton - Red Deer - Calgary - Winnipeg Alberta Construction Magazine | 55

people, products, projects

Looking for a few champions do you want to be an apprenticeship champion? if so, the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum is looking for you. the organization has put out a call for supporters to help fund its efforts to promote apprenticeships in the skilled trades across Canada. last July, the organization learned that its federal funding would be scrapped in 2013. in order to make up the shortfall, the forum is conducting its first-ever membership drive. several levels of membership are provided—from lower-level supporters all the way up to patrons and champions—each with their own set of perks, such as conference and workshop discounts. “we’ve become a place where the apprenticeship community comes together to share its successes and collaborate to effect change,” says dave suess, incoming chair for the organization. “it’s time for stakeholders who recognize this value to step forward and put some skin in the game.” More details on the campaign are available at






Halsall Associates hires new structural engineering lead Patrick taylor will be joining halsall Associates at its Calgary office as managing principal of the company’s structural engineering team. residents of Calgary may have already encountered some of taylor’s work around the city. he has worked on the Foothills Alliance Church renovation and addition, as well as the Oi kwan Foundation redevelopment project, where he managed design and construction. Previously, taylor was an associate and manager of building projects at kassian dyck and Associates.

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Durwest Construction Systems (Alta.) Ltd. is primarily involved in the following trade disciplines: Commercial & industrial, vertical & horizontal waterproofing Bridge deck waterproofing Concrete restoration Thin system traffic deck coatings 100 solids mechanical room waterproofing systems Mechanical shot blast surface preparation Expansion joint installations 56 | Fall 2012

At Stuart Olson Dominion we value: LEADERSHIP We always come to the table with ideas. We build on the strengths of all team members and lead the way to inspired, collaborative solutions. INNOVATION Innovation adds value. It’s no coincidence our entire organization is driven by possibilities. We are consistently innovative and innovatively consistent. RELATIONSHIPS We demonstrate integrity. We build on trust. We earn respect. PROFITABILITY Our success is your success. We believe in sharing it.

people, products, projects

Calgary airport’s purple lot praised for green features


the Canadian Construction Association has recognized lafarge Canada inc. with an environmental achievement award. the prize-winning project is the purple lot at the Calgary international Airport. its notable green features include the use of a combination of reclaimed asphalt pavement and asphalt shingle modifier, which can be mixed at lower temperatures. lafarge also found uses for recycled concrete and tires. Over 40,000 tonnes of concrete were processed and used to form the parking lot’s sub-base. in place of traditional concrete wheel stops, the company used rubber stops, diverting 1,495 tires from landfills in the process. the use of recycled concrete allowed lafarge to reduce transportation requirements and the attendant CO2 emissions. in total, the company estimates it lowered emissions by 1,392.7 tonnes on the project.

EllisDon purchases PME Group Canadian construction giant Ellisdon Corporation has purchased the PME group of Companies. based out of Fort saskatchewan, Alta., PME has made a name for itself providing civil site work and other construction services in the province’s oil and gas sector. Much of the company’s work has focused on oilsands developments, oil refineries and pipelines in the Edmonton area and Fort McMurray, Alta. in announcing the deal, Ellisdon president and chief executive officer geoff smith suggested the integration of the two companies should run smoothly. “the skills and experience the PME group of Companies brings to Ellisdon is very complementary to the things that we do,” he said. “Just as importantly, we believe the cultures of our firms are very similar.” terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Alberta Construction Magazine | 57

people, products, projects

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Atlas Copco’s new forward-reversible plate light compactor in action.

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there’s a brand new line of light compaction equipment on the market, courtesy of Atlas Copco Construction Equipment Canada. the lineup features a little something for everyone, whether it involves smaller, confined jobs or larger tasks like paving parking lots or building trenches. here’s a quick rundown:

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Walk-behind duplex: this series is intended for smaller jobs, including work in confined areas. the hydraulically driven machine is best suited to compacting thin layers of granular material or asphalt.


Vibratory compactor: the absence of protruding parts makes this compactor perfect for working close to obstacles or in confined areas, where it can tamp down both cohesive and granular soils. it also comes in an optional remotecontrol version.

58 | Fall 2012



Forward plate: Made with small repair and maintenance jobs in mind, this series can compact both granular materials and asphalt. workers will be happy to note this model also features a low-vibration handle to ease the strain on operators.

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aca report

FOCus is On wOrkFOrCE And OwnEr eDuCaTioN iSSueS Ken Gibson Executive Director, Alberta Construction Association

Among the numerous initiatives reported on in the last issue of Alberta Construction Magazine, the spring and summer months have been dominated by actions focused on workforce and owner education. Workforce The Alberta Construction Association (ACA) continued its immigration advocacy most recently in a July meeting with federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and other members of the industry coalition, the Alberta Coalition for Action on Labour Shortages. The meeting provided an opportunity to applaud recent policy reform, while emphasizing the need to now focus on successful implementation, the need to address some gaps and

to continue to seek industry input. Gaps of concern include: the broad definition of National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes means that recruitment for a high-skilled occupation sometimes means having to address low-skilled workers classified under the same NOC code; and that some high-skilled occupations develop skills through experience, rather, and do not have a paper credential, and hence are deemed to be low-skilled NOC codes C and D. ACA is involved in dialogue to try and address these issues. ACA has developed brief summary documents (accessible through its website) to assist employers with the various immigration pathways, and in the selection of a foreign worker recruitment agency. ACA is in the process of identifying agencies

with solid references from industry. ACA continues to advocate with the Alberta and Irish governments to take advantage of the opportunities for mobility of skilled trades between the two regions. ACA has also been advocating for facilitated access to U.S. workers as a source of temporary foreign workers. ACA is also in dialogue with the Alberta government to develop a new partnership to support enhanced development and retention of our existing workforce through a proposal to work with employers, employees and service providers to assist workers in developing successful careers in construction. ACA has proposed a pilot program that, if successful, could be expanded across Alberta in partnership with local construction associations.

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Alberta Construction Magazine | 61

aca report

ACA has developed brief summary documents (accessible through its website) to assist employers with the various immigration pathways, and in the selection of a foreign worker recruitment agency.

62 | Fall 2012

Safety/WCB An important area to maximize workforce productivity is to minimize injuries and where injuries occur, to ensure rapid appropriate return to work. Consequently, ACA has brought forward industry views on the proposed administrative penalties system and on the proposed Partnerships in Injury Reduction program’s Return to Work incentive. ACA strongly supports evidence-based approaches, and where the evidence is lacking, suggests that such proposals are premature. Standard practices Along with partners Consulting Architects of Alberta, Consulting Engineers of

Alberta, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and Alberta Infrastructure, ACA is developing a website and communications outreach to public procurers of construction to promote adoption of industry standard practices. A number of best practices have been developed by Alberta Infrastructure, and these will be promoted along with industry standards such as Canadian Construction Documents Committee documents. ACA is proposing to bring on contract expertise to enhance the ability of ACA to respond to enquiries from members and other stakeholders regarding tendering standards of practice. ACA plans to introduce this service in pilot form in the last part of 2012.

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cca report

Joanne Foster of Bird Construction, Della Gray of Alberta Construction Magazine and Ann Donald of BFL Canada show off their pink support with Dave Smith of the CCA.

CCa MeMBerS raiSe FuNDS FOr CAnCEr sOCiEty

By the Calgary Construction Association

For the first time ever, the Calgary Construction Association’s (CCA’s) annual Steacy Easton Golf Tournament turned a little pink. With CCA’s first female chair, Serena Holbrook, at the helm, the best-ball tournament featuring “guys and gals” welcomed more than four times the number of female attendees over last year.

Golfers in the tournament held on June 13 were provided with everything pink: pink golf balls, pink tees, pink towels and pink Pockar Masonry Ltd. water bottles. Decorated for the occasion, bags of pink candy were waiting at each place setting for the golfers. While the golfers were enjoying a steak dinner,

the fundraising continued and a record $1,870 was raised in the 60/40 draw with $750 going to the lucky W.N. (Bill) Hasegawa of Hasegawa Group. This year’s tournament was the most successful to date, raising an impressive $10,500, which was donated to the Canadian Cancer Society in honour of Alberta Construction Magazine | 65

cca report

The Cotton Candy Girls—Roberta, Amy (CCA), Andrea and Bradina— naturally took home the best-dressed award to Westcor Construction Ltd.

Continued from page 65

CCA past president and longtime industry volunteer Steacy Easton, who lost his life in a battle with cancer. The tournament drew so much attention that there was a waitlist of over 50 registrants. Be sure to enter early next year, as it will be the 20th anniversary of the Steacy Easton Golf Tournament. Thank you to everyone who attended this year for your tremendous support of the Steacy Easton Cancer Charity Golf Classic through sponsorship, 60/40 ticket purchases and enthusiasm by sporting the colour pink!

CCA chair Serena Holbrook of Pockar Masonry (centre) presents Nichola Lastella, director of strategic revenue development, and Matthew Mitchell, revenue development coordinator from the Canadian Cancer Society, with a cheque for $10,500 from the June golf tournament.

66 | Fall 2012

cca report

CCA rEsEArCh lEAdEr rECEiVEs WaLTer ShaNLy aWarD

By the Calgary Construction Association

in 2003, the Calgary Construction Association (CCA) along with several industry association stakeholders partnered with Janaka Ruwanpura at the University of Calgary to commence with a research project on improving construction productivity. Over the course of the past four years, Ruwanpura has delivered over 100 workshops to train construction industry personnel to use the new tools and best practices developed through his research project, Top Ten Targets for Improving Construction Productivity. While the CCA honoured Ruwanpura with the prestigious Industry Partnership Award at the association’s 67th annual general meeting in March, the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering (CSCE) honoured Ruwanpura with the Walter Shanly Award at the 125th anniversary celebration of the CSCE held at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton. Shanly was a successful railway engineer in Canada in the mid-1800s and in 1867 was elected to the House of Commons. In 1887, Shanly introduced a private member’s bill establishing the CSCE. The Walter Shanly Award is presented annually to a member of the CSCE who has made outstanding contributions to the development and practices of construction engineering in Canada.

Janaka Ruwanpura (right) receives the Walter Shanly Award during the 125th celebration of the Engineering Institute of Canada.

With the development of the secondgeneration iBooth, which enhances construction communications, Ruwanpura is a well-deserving recipient and is

the youngest engineer to ever receive this award. CCA congratulates Ruwanpura for his excellent work.

Alberta Construction Magazine | 67


THIS cHangeS

everyTHIng. The population of Alberta is growing nearly twice as fast as the rest of Canada. 44 companies have moved their head offices here in the past decade, and the world’s desire for energy has been climbing steadily. Our province is booming, fed by a steady supply of skilled SAIT graduates that know how to hit the ground running. With the opening of SAIT Polytechnic’s new Trades and Technology Complex, we’ll have the potential to deliver thousands of additional trades people, technicians, technologists and degree graduates to industry over the next decade, keeping cranes in the air, crude in the pipes and energy in our thriving city. Welcome to the Trades and Technology Complex, opening September 15, 2012.

health & safety


this Mould

A hazard to health and home, mould requires greater vigilance from construction industry By Joseph Caouette

Alberta Construction Magazine | 69

roland Walsh can still recall the indifferent attitude he had towards mould when he first started out in construction. It was over 30 years ago, and he had a job doing renovations while going to school. “We saw mould, we’d just cut it out and throw it out,” he says. “Then you wake up the next morning, you’re hacking and coughing, you’ve got a headache, but you don’t really put any thought into it.” Since those early student days, Walsh has gone on to put a great deal of thought into mould. He now owns Canadian Envirotec Inc., an environmental service company based out of Sherwood Park, Alta. Mould inspection and remediation are included among its many services. Mould is a problem in buildings both old and new, on construction sites exposed to the elements and renovation projects sheltering hidden fungal growths. All it needs to thrive are three things: the right temperature, a bit of moisture and food. Wood, drywall and carpet all provide excellent nourishment for mould—with the application of just a little water, that is.

Protective eyewear and respirators are essential gear when it comes to dealing with mould outbreaks.

“In 48 hours of first contact—48 hours from getting wet—mould can go crazy,” Walsh says. Mould spreads quickly, and with it comes a host of health concerns. In its mould guidelines, the Canadian Construction Association reels off a lengthy list of signs that workers have been exposed: eye irritation, skin rashes, congestion, cough, headaches, fatigue

and other flu-like symptoms. People with asthma or weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to the microscopic mould spores, which can even lead to fungal infections. However, not everyone responds equally to mould exposure and not all moulds are the same. But there are three strains of mould in particular that demand the attention of the construction industry, according to Jackson Kung’u, principal microbiologist with Mold and Bacteria Consulting Laboratories Inc., an organization dedicated to testing and identifying different moulds. “All moulds are potentially health hazards, but in a building, probably Aspergillus, Penicillium and Stachybotrys—the one they call the black mould—would be considered worse than other moulds,” he says. The reason is that these three all produce microtoxins. People encountering such moulds are “not just going to be affected by the spores, but also the toxins that are contained in the spores,” Kung’u says, while also noting more research needs to be done into the effects of these toxins when inhaled.

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health & safety

health & safety More than a health hazard for building occupants, mould is also a danger to the health of the building itself. It can be an indicator—and sometimes even a cause— of structural problems. The presence of mould can point to a leak within the building, or some structural flaw that is allowing moisture to gather and play host to fungal or bacterial growths. But mould itself, when left unchecked, can seriously damage the building. “Mould’s number one purpose is to return natural substances back to their natural state,” Walsh says. “It will take gypsum and make it so brittle it just falls apart. It will take a piece of wood and just disintegrate it.” With such severe problems, it is little wonder that the presence of mould can prompt fear and strong reactions from building owners. Perhaps most famous in this regard are Steve and Karen Porath, a California couple who, in 2001, had local firefighters torch their home because of the prohibitive cost of clearing out a major black mould problem. But such drastic measures are not usually necessary, and Kung’u cautions against overreacting to the problem.

“You’ve got to put an N95 mask in your toolbox, and if there’s any indication [of mould], just put the mask on. They’re just as important as a steel-toed boot.” — Roland Walsh, owner, Canadian Envirotec Inc. “You find sometimes people really panic and they end up spending a lot of money on something they really should not have,” he warns. “I hear sometimes people even want to destroy their own clothing because they think that if there was mould in the building, maybe their clothing has got mould.” Cleaning up after a mould contamination can be as simple as washing clothes that have been exposed to spores or as complicated as hiring a remediation company to go through a building room by room. But there are a few basic safety precautions construction workers can take whenever they suspect a job site may contain mould growth.

Protective eyewear, gloves and respirators are all considered essential protection. Disposable coveralls and boots may even be necessary when dealing with severe outbreaks where there is a risk of spreading the spores around the building. Walsh also has a bit of advice to help workers avoid waking up with the same hacking cough that confounded him in his younger days. “You’ve got to put an N95 mask in your toolbox, and if there’s any indication [of mould], just put the mask on,” he says. “They’re just as important as a steel-toed boot.”

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Alberta Construction Magazine | 71


Alberta Fabricator Eskimo Steel Ltd. marks

40th Anniversary


skimo Steel Ltd. hasn’t been around quite as long as its gridiron namesake, but in four decades it has become a prominent player in industrial construction and fabrication. The Edmonton-based company, now celebrating its 40th anniversary, counts the “who’s who” of construction and resource firms among its clients. Jim Fargey and George Kachuk founded Eskimo in 1972 to supply steel connections for Western Archrib, the Fargey family–owned manufacturer of laminated structural wood systems. One might assume Eskimo Steel traces its name directly to Edmonton’s fabled football team. In fact, says Eskimo Steel President Brian Watson, the title arose when the firm’s founders chanced upon another company, in a different industry, with the Eskimo moniker. It seemed easy to remember, Alberta’s Corporate Registry raised no objections and so Eskimo Steel was picked and the name has prevailed. Launched from scratch, Eskimo has transformed not just its workforce (now numbering 70) but also its product lines, ownership structure and business model. Transformation extends to the acquisition of up-to-date new technologies, and adoption of industry-leading safety and quality control standards. Following the initial years with Archrib as sole customer, Eskimo began bidding on steel- supply contracts for some smaller commercial projects. Sales included miscellaneous steel components for schools, warehouses, commercial buildings and some industrial sites in Edmonton and northern Alberta. Having survived the National Energy Program–associated downturn of the early 1980s, Eskimo underwent several changes. Co-founder George Kachuk retired, operations moved to a larger South Edmonton location and four new shop employees with considerable industrial experience joined. “Over the next few years,” Watson observes, “the focus definitely started changing toward the industrial market.” That shift was accelerated in the mid-1990s, when Watson, then Vice President & GM of Western Archrib, and Jim Fargey’s son, Kent, bought Eskimo. (A construction technology graduate of Winnipeg’s Red River College, Watson originally worked for Western Archrib in Edmonton.) A shift to industrial work and involvement with larger clients with strict expectations prompted renewed safety and quality control commitments, now permanently integrated into Eskimo’s corporate culture. According to Watson: “We knew that to stay in the industrial market, we had to address certain things—such as a

more formalized safety program and quality control to ensure we were viewed as a serious company that industrial owners would want to do business with. As we got into larger projects, we recognized that there were certain errors occurring in the shop that were costing the company money once steel got on site and that we really needed to take steps to reduce that in a more formal way. Secondly, the project owners recognized that we had a process in place that they could look at and that our work was representative of that program.” Until 1997, Eskimo concentrated on the fabrication side of the business and subcontracted on-site work to independent erectors. That changed when Eskimo created its own field division (and in the process doubled its staff and revenue). With the field division handling the site work, Eskimo became a more integrated supply-and-install operation. The first such contract was a pump house for Suncor at Fort McMurray. That led to more work in the Fort McMurray region and as Eskimo’s President suggests: “It crystallized our thinking toward industrial being the market we’re best suited for. The people in the shop and our field operations understand that market and the work required.” Typical projects range in size from 20–1,500 tons and run the gamut from buildings of all sizes and shapes to structural for platforms, pipe racks, pipe supports, and cable tray supports. Eskimo also fabricates plate work for chutes, hoppers, and pump boxes. “We are certainly not the largest fabricator in Alberta; we stick to what we can handle, the market that we know, and try to do it very well,” says Watson.


Eskimo’s sales expanded to include mine operators, such as Diavik and BHP, in the territories. Serving the North often meant tight production schedules and narrow delivery windows as components were trucked along winter roads or configured for air transport. Eskimo has worked on projects for an impressive lineup of blue-chip clients including Syncrude, Shell Canada Energy, Shell Chemicals, Shell Albian, CNRL, AlPac, Alberta Newsprint, to name a few, as well as leading industrial contractors such as PCL, Bird and Graham. Owners’ site management teams sort out fairly early in their projects which contractors they want to trust with more work and fortunately for Eskimo this has happened on more than one occasion. After operating at two somewhat confined South Edmonton sites, Eskimo in 2000 acquired 3 1/4 acres on Streambank Avenue in Sherwood Park where, in 2002, it completed a 20,000-square-foot fabrication facility capable of handling larger jobs more efficiently. Features include a 450-foot flow-through overhead crane-way with four cranes and a 24-foot hook height. They permit smooth lifts right through from the goods-receivable to the finished-product

lay-down area. Further efficiencies came with installation of Peddinghaus CNC equipment—a beam drill in 2005 and a plate processor in 2008. 3-D modelling software links the front end of the operation with the shop equipment. Mostly, Eskimo grows its personnel in-house and through careful planning it has “kept work in front of the shop”— thereby keeping its committed and well-trained staff working even during economic slowdowns. As part of the strategy of keeping staff busy, Eskimo’s field division will do erect-only of owner-supplied steel. (Eskimo also does disassembly as it did at Syncrude by taking apart reportedly one of the world’s largest tower cranes, the 350-foot Kroll K-10,000.) As oilsands construction heated up in the last decade (with Eskimo staff peaking at 90 in 2008), erect-only contracts made particular sense when some owners separated the traditional supply and erect model, and also increased national and offshore sourcing of fabricated steel. Also, customers satisfied with the work of one division, often become customers of Eskimo’s other division. Eskimo holds certificates of recognition with the Manufacturers’ Health and Safety Association and the Alberta Construction Safety Association. The Alberta Division of the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction has recognized Eskimo with awards for work at the Diavik mine (2003) and Shell Scotford refinery (2010). Eskimo prefers to foster close working relationships and trust with a fairly limited circle of clients, then aims to meet a wide range of those select customers’ needs and to respond on fairly short notice. While Eskimo expects continued involvement with new construction, as the oilsands and mines sectors mature, more attention likely will focus on clients’ year-to-year capital improvement. With an established reputation and inAlberta presence, Eskimo is well placed to serve the ongoing maintenance markets. “We’re a customer-driven company and we believe in being responsive to our customers,” says Watson. “We’ve always had our senior management people within the company hands-on because it is helpful to the clients that they see senior management actively involved in running projects and operations.” That approach is expected to continue as Eskimo, after 40 years, undergoes a re-birth of sorts with younger leadership taking over from Watson (partner Kent Fargey was bought out in 2008). Three senior managers/owners in their 30s—Ray Cloutier and Brian’s two sons, Shawn and Garrett Watson—are now at the helm. For Brian Watson that means “the future looks bright.”



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health & safety


arming trend Clothing that generates heat for the wearer and works for the construction industry could be closer than you think By Tricia Radison it was a good idea. Several years ago, a research scientist at the Alberta Research Council developed what could have melted the hearts of many an Albertan construction worker—a propane-heated snowsuit that would keep the wearer comfortable and able to work in temperatures up to minus 40 for hours. The prototype doesn’t seem to have gone further, but there may be hope on the horizon for heated clothing that is usable by the construction industry. Alberta Construction Magazine | 75


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76 | Fall 2012

It would be especially welcome at work sites throughout Alberta, where temperatures frequently reach 20–40 below during the winter months. Heated clothing has been around, primarily for the motorcycle enthusiasts, for more than three decades. It makes sense for motorcycle riders because you can use the motorcycle battery to provide the juice needed to produce the heat. The problem has been getting the same kind of warmth onto the backs of those on two feet. Although products are available, there are those who say they simply don’t work. “Everybody in the industry wants to ignore science,” says Mike Coan, president of Warm & Safe Heated Gear LLC, one of many companies that sell heated clothing, such as battery-heated hand warmers and liners. “People out of China have been doing heated clothing and most of it fails because they all ignore a simple truth, and that is the law of science.” Coan explains that taking the source of power for a piece of clothing from a 12-volt environment like a motorcycle means that you have to carry a 12-volt battery pack, and that’s heavy. Going down to a lower-voltage battery doesn’t work because reducing the voltage by just one-third reduces the heat produced by two-thirds. “You have to design clothing that could work with a battery technology that is going to be able to be carried and be practically unnoticed,” Coan says. “Because of computers and the radio-controlled toy car industry, battery technology has now moved way beyond what they were five years ago in capacity, lightness and safety.” Warm & Safe is working on designing clothing to work with battery packs that provide a high level of heat and are small enough to fit in your pocket. At under half a pound, the battery pack wouldn’t add unnecessary weight either, and it is


health & safety

health & safety

expected to last a number of hours before needing to be recharged. The other problem with heated clothing for any type of user, says Coan, is the type of clothing that’s being heated. Heating a jacket or coveralls is useless because the heat is kept away from the body by other layers of clothing. “In our products, the base layer is designed to be up against your body,” he says. “The heated areas are bigger so coverage is greater, and the heat is spread out through the base layer—chest, back, neck.” Oh, and heated boots? Coan, who’s been working on concepts for improving heated clothing for years, advises plugging in a pair of heated socks instead. While companies like Warm & Soft work on advancing the technology that would allow clothes to help people deal with the elements, layering up and determining how long it’s safe to stay out can help workers get through the winter. And you can always give the heated clothing on the market today a try. Coan suggests wearing Warm & Soft’s heated liner, which is designed to move with the body, under everything to get it close to the body, and using the 7.4-volt battery pack. It would provide 26 watts of heat for about three hours, then you’d need to change the battery. The company is also coming out with new products designed for this purpose that will give you the same warmth for a longer period of time. Until heated clothing becomes commonplace on work sites, it’s probably still best to follow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) advice for those spending time outdoors during the winter—that is, to dress in layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions. Also important, says OSHA, is not ignoring the danger signs of uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue and confused behaviour.

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Find out more at Alberta Construction Magazine | 77

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health & safety

Calgary company takes customized approach to safety vests


By Tricia Radison

construction, “When you’re working tool box, your your safety vest is your munications kitchen and your com r you.” centre. It has to work fo

Alberta Construction Magazine | 79

health & safety

That’s Hayley Young speaking, and she should know. The owner of Can-Stitch (1999) Ltd. in Calgary, Young creates custom safety vests for the construction and oil and gas industries, designing them so they fit, have the appearance the customer wants and make working easier. Although she uses a basic style, Young talks to customers about their specific needs. Those include company or sitespecific colours and preferences for where the retro-reflective trim

(tape) is placed. It also includes changes in design. A foreman might require several pockets for radios and cellphones, for example, and those can be placed where it’s most convenient, like near the shoulder so the microphone can be heard on a noisy site. Someone else might need to carry heavy tools, so Can-Stitch designs pockets of an appropriate size and shape, puts them where they’ll work best and lines them with super-strong material like Kevlar.

“My customers appreciate a product that works for them,” Young says. A single mother of five, Young didn’t intend to get into manufacturing safety vests. Growing up with a passion for sewing, she took Fashion Merchandising at Olds College. In the early 1990s, Young started manufacturing safety vests as single-order custom projects, from home. Over the years, the business evolved and was formalized into its present corporation in 1999.

the university of Alberta proved her right. “the glass-bead structure inside is like a few chocolate chips in your cookie batter,” she says. “the result is much less reflectivity in low light and more risk. the real 3M tape has a very dense glass-bead structure, increasing its reflectivity in low light and reducing the risk to the worker.” it’s a good idea to check out how well your retro-reflective trim is working. young suggests taking your vest into a dark room and shining a flashlight at it. “Ask yourself, ‘is that what i want to look like in a low-light situation with something coming at me?’” she says. if the answer is no, it’s time for a new vest.

80 | Fall 2012


ape t y retro-reflective trim or tape has a lifespan and there are low-quality prodfet ob? a s j r ucts on the market. Can-stitch’s hayley young has a roll of trim purported to u ts i o y g be a 3M product—you can see holographic “3M” markings on the tape at a ceris oin tain angle—that she suspected was a knock-off. representatives from 3M and a contact at d

health & safety Much of the work in the early years was large-volume projects, without much customization. After the economic changes that began in 2008, there was less interest in paying for quality. Looking for a niche, Young started listening closely to people who wear safety vests. “Hayley has taken the initiative to source out people in the industry to give feedback on what we need,” says Nick Pryde, who has spent 28 years in the industry. Just over a year ago, Pryde showed Young an old safety vest. As soon as she saw it, she knew it was one of hers and asked how old it was. The answer was a surprise. “Thirteen years!” says Young. “It was worn but in great shape for its age. This is the standard my vests will always be made to.” Pryde has a lot of ideas for improving safety vests and has been working closely with Young to develop prototypes that he then tries out on the job. He tells her the issues he’s dealt with, like pocket contents dropping out when you bend over, having to take your cellphone out of your pocket,

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Alberta Construction Magazine | 81

health & safety

ow we h n i l schoo because it d l o e r “We’ t our vests lity.” a c u q u r e t cons ensur o owner, t s u y Young, ) Ltd. s le y a w H o 9 — all itch (199

and being too hot or too cold, and Young and her team go to the drawing board to figure out a solution. As a result, Can-Stitch ’s basic vest design comes with Velcro that keeps pockets closed. Options include a transparent front on the cellphone pocket that allows the wearer to see who’s calling without removing it, and mesh that replaces some of the fabric for warm weather or fleece lining for cooler temperatures. Safety is always a consideration. That means keeping up with evolving standards and knowing when the standards apply. Young explains that CSA Z96-09, which addresses high-visibility safety apparel, must be followed when working near roadways, but, in Alberta, there’s flexibility in whether the standard applies for other types of work. Companies that want to ensure they are meeting the standard can choose from three classes of highvisibility clothing and three levels of


retro-reflective trim, depending on the level of risk. She’ll work with safety officers to help them assess the risk so that employees are properly protected, but companies don’t have to spend more than required. Can-Stitch also ensures that all materials meet standards and they have the certification to back up their claim. “A tag inside the vest doesn’t guarantee that every material used in that product meets standards,” Young says. “If a vest has to be fire-resistant, that means everything from the fabric to the embroidery thread to the backing has to be certified [fire-resistant], and you don’t know unless you see the paperwork.”

She sources her fabrics from Davey Textile Solutions Inc. in Edmonton, a company that also exposes her to what’s new as technology advances. “We’re old school in how we construct our vests because it allows us to ensure quality,” she says. “But we’re always looking at what’s coming next, too, like fibres impregnated with silver and electronics so you can monitor the temperature of the person through the garment. There is even a fibre that will change as you heat up; it will cool you down. That’s what we have to look forward to.” As for Pryde, he can’t say enough about the durability of Can-Stitch’s vests. “It’s form and function,” he says. “These vests are going to be all the rage.” Can-Stitch’s vests can be purchased through Butler Survey Supplies Ltd. with locations in Richmond, B.C., Edmonton, Calgary and Regina, or vests can be ordered through Billboard Direct Promotional Services Inc. in Fort McMurray, Alta. As well, custom projects can be ordered directly through Can-Stitch.

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Building systems that can be controlled from your phone or tablet offer advantages By Tricia Radison

Building automation or information systems are becoming increasingly popular for their operational, financial and environmental benefits. Now users can track things such as temperature and lighting in real time from afar with easy-to-use applications for smartphones and tablets. Commercial and residential buildings consume an estimated one-third of the world’s energy, according to the U.S. National Science and Technology Council. Buildings are expected to become the largest consumer of energy and biggest producer of greenhouse gases by 2025. “The most effective place for us to be able to reduce resource consumption so we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions is by reducing our energy consumption in buildings,” says Chris Fortin, national Maximo EAM sales manager at IBM. “One of the ways we can do that is by more efficiently managing those buildings.” Systems like IBM’s Maximo capture data from various systems—electrical, heating and cooling, water, etc.—and bring the data into one place so building managers can see what’s going on in real time. Maximo, and other systems like it, allows you to see the condition of assets at all times and manage the activities required to ensure the assets are functioning the way they are supposed to.

Alberta Construction Magazine | 85

technology But the biggest driver for installing a building automation system is still cost. “I think environmental sustainability is growing in importance and is very close to becoming a major factor for building owners, but most customers are focused on the money-saving aspects of having greater control over their lighting, heating and cooling, along with the ease of running their buildings with an automation system,” says Paul Sykes, general manager, Building Automation Systems in Calgary. Taking these systems mobile so that they can be accessed and used from your smartphone and tablet is a relatively easy step, but it’s one that can have big benefits on the bottom line. “An air conditioning unit that is not functioning correctly might be costing me an exorbitant amount per minute and per hour in electricity,” Fortin says. “Finding out about it right away while I’m running between meetings and the alert comes to my smartphone versus finding out about it tomorrow

morning when I log onto my laptop can make a significant financial difference.” Anything that can be done from your laptop can typically be done from your phone or tablet. Some companies build apps; Siemens Industry, Inc. has Facility

“that ability to see what’s happening immediately can not only save money, it can prevent a major disaster.” — Paul Sykes, general manager, Building Automation Systems

Prime, an iPad application for its APOGEE Building Automation System. Building Automation Systems’ customers simply log

on to the websites from which they control their systems using most portable devices. “That ability to see what’s happening immediately can not only save money, it can prevent a major disaster,” Sykes says. “If it’s winter in Alberta and the temperature in your building starts dropping because of an equipment failure, you can find out before your pipes or other HVAC equipment freeze up.” Those who aren’t using any type of building management system but are interested in doing so should examine their priorities, such as energy conservation, safety and saving money. If energy management is high on the list, the first step is installing the right system of sensors and technology that can gather data on resource consumption. Fortin predicts that buildings will continue to get smarter as technology advances. At the same time, the trend towards having information instantly available wherever you are will mean technology will also be increasingly mobile going forward. And it will all be at your fingertips.

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Easy access One of the beauties of BIM is its ability to deliver information right to the field site By Godfrey Budd one of the advantages of today’s building information modelling (BIM) systems and software is that precise, accurate and detailed project info and plans can be accessed from almost anywhere with a wireless Internet device. Architects, engineers, contractors and subcontracting trades are no longer restricted to where their drawings are.

But while big general contractors are adopting BIM, many small and mediumsize players in the contracting community—both general and sub—are holding back. Partly, this is because in areas like Edmonton, where something of a construction boom is underway, smaller contractors are reluctant to allocate what they understandably view as scarce human resources

to something whose benefits are not entirely clear to them. Human resources experts have been warning of a looming skills shortage in Alberta for months. Despite the boom’s effect, “It could still be worthwhile for small and mediumsize contractors to use [BIM] because of the competitive advantage,” says Paul Fereday, a project director at Stuart Olson Alberta Construction Magazine | 89


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Dominion Construction Ltd., adding that the technology can be a differentiator for companies. The boom is not the only factor, however, that’s curtailing enthusiasm for BIM. “The fallback position is that no owners are asking for it, so we don’t see a reason to do it,” says Allan Partridge, the executive director of integrated practice at Group2 Architecture Interior Design Ltd. “[These contractors] don’t see it as an opportunity to save money.” But, he warns that “there may be casualties when demand for BIM ramps up.” Training resources might prove insufficient in the event of a widespread rush to get up to speed, he says, adding, “All the big general contractors are on board with BIM. They wouldn’t be doing it if there weren’t savings.”

“When you apply your education, skill and knowledge to a problem via BIM, that’s when you get the bang for the buck.” — Drew Teal, construction coordinator, PCL Constructors Inc. Partridge and other BIM experts see the ability of the full range of project stakeholders—from architects to skilled trades doing duct work—to access essential information on building plans from anywhere as a powerful tool that boosts efficiency. “BIM enables you to communicate the design intent and the scope of the work. A contractor can access info on site layout or quantity of takeoffs and so on from anywhere,” he says. “Just about everything a contractor needs to know about a job he’s doing is accessible.” Some local construction associations, like Edmonton’s, are offering BIM training, he notes. One of the ways that BIM helps streamline the overall work on a project is through improving the tendering process. It can enable pinpoint accuracy on material quantities and pricing, including details on subtrades’ work.

90 | Fall 2012

technology “That can mean less risk all the way round,” says Thomas Strong, director of virtual construction at EllisDon Corp. At the site, and elsewhere, this can prevent coordination issues, he says. “In the past, it was understood that some things would be worked out in the field and that [it] would cost money,” Strong says. But, when the general trades and subtrades all have immediate access to the plans and all the building info they need at the click of a mouse or the touch of a tablet screen, “It smoothes the process, saving much time in the field,” Strong says. “Also, subs can pre-build or pre-fabricate because we’ve gone through a simulation to verify it will work in the field.” He believes that the industry is changing and that BIM can make a firm more competitive. Although it is still early days, some of the more sophisticated and efficiency-conscious clients are already asking for building models as a deliverable. Says Strong: “They want a certain level of content—what the building consists of, physically. This can help in operations and saleability, so contractors might need to be able to provide that.” Some BIM experts like Drew Teal, a construction coordinator at PCL Constructors Inc., say the ideal BIM user is a project manager with 30 years’ experience—but he concedes that finding that along with the matching software chops in the same person could be a challenge. The good news, though, is that there seems to be a software program for just about every type of contracting activity. For some trades, such as structural steel fabrication, the software has been around for a while. Recent years have also seen a host of specialist and niche programs hit the market. “For just about every trade, there’s likely a fit,” Strong says. Perceptions about cost are also causing smaller contractors to shy away from BIM. But experts like Teal and others say BIM is not that expensive. Seasoned construction personnel can often get the most benefit from BIM. Concludes Teal: “When you apply your education, skill and knowledge to a problem via BIM, that’s when you get the bang for the buck. If your tolerances are realistic, then if it works in the BIM, then it’ll work on the site.”

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business of building

92 | Fall 2012

business of building

By Alisha Mody Municipal Planner, Mackenzie Municipal Services Agency

Developing with your

in mind

Beyond how buildings are designed and constructed, they have a lasting impact on how a community functions—or not, based on how they relate to the building next door and the neighbourhood as a whole. As construction professionals, you have a lasting impact on how our structures and communities look and function. While building with the bottom line in mind, community considerations also play a part and you may spend some time thinking about how to maximize the community benefits of your development. Building with the community in mind doesn’t have to be more expensive. Without changing a building itself, where on the site you place it can make all the difference in how the building operates in the community.

Alberta Construction Magazine | 93

business of building

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One of the most important considerations for any development from a community-building standpoint is deciding where parking will be located. When parking is in the front, between the road and the rest of the development, there are a number of negative consequences. It makes the road look and feel wider. For drivers this means it feels okay to go faster. When drivers go faster, the street becomes more dangerous and less pleasant for people walking and biking. A wider street makes pedestrians less likely to walk down the street or to cross to the other side, which encourages people to drive more. This unnecessarily increases traffic levels, increasing the wear and tear on our transportation network. Moving buildings further away from the road also moves the people in those buildings away from the road. This, in turn, makes the road an isolated place and, therefore, even more hostile to pedestrians. For businesses, people are less likely to just pop in, and shopping becomes increasingly limited to planned trips, which especially hurts small, local businesses. So, what does the solution look like? Ideally, parking will be at the side or back of the development whenever possible. For single-family homes, this means that the main front entrance should be for people, not vehicles. The garage could either be recessed into, at the side of or built behind the house. Ideally, the building setback from the street shouldn’t be too great and the front door and street-facing windows should be prominent. For commercial developments, businesses should front a street with a sidewalk, and parking can be behind or adjacent to the building. Preferably, buildings are mixed-use with a variety of uses that generate parking demand at different times of the day. This maximizes the utility of parking spaces by using each parking space through a greater part of the day, rather than having parking spaces that sit vacant the majority of the time. Building like this increases the community’s options for the future. If parking is adjacent to the building then it leaves open the possibility for infill development in the future, while it is very unlikely that another building would ever be built in between the street and the building, without first tearing the original down. Keeping these strategies in mind future-proofs your development by increasing its adaptability.

business of building Historically, our street networks, including sidewalks, have had three key functions, all of which are necessary for the outdoor areas of our communities to be of high quality: FIRST

First, and most obviously, it is a place where people travel—connection space. Second, it is a place to do business—

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SECOND a marketplace. THIRD

Third, it is a place to have both planned and chance meetings, to observe and hang out—a meeting place.

When streets get too wide and the buildings move back, the street network fails to provide all three functions of public space and the community therefore risks struggling. Whether the street network provides all three functions is determined in large part by the buildings and parking areas that surround it. To borrow from a great community thinker, Jan Gehl: “When outdoor areas are of poor quality, only strictly necessary activities occur. When residents see no reason to linger outside, they will rarely engage in such activities as standing around enjoying life. Social activities or all activities that depend on the presence of others will necessarily decrease as well.” Even though your development is built on private land, it connects to and relates to public land and public space. How effectively it does this determines the enjoyableness and usefulness of the approximately 30 per cent of our community that is made up by our street and road network. Your power over our day-to-day lives is significant. Determining how to maximize the community-building potential of your development is not necessarily easy. Editor’s note: Alisha Mody is a municipal planner with the Mackenzie Municipal Services Agency (, a planning resource for the Peace Region that provides planning services and advice to local municipalities and does contract work for the private sector. Mody has a Master’s of Planning degree from the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning, and brings planning experience from both the regional planning department at the Fraser Valley Regional District and the strategic planning division of TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s transportation authority.

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Toll Free 1-800-252-9375 Web: Alberta Construction Magazine | 95

the legal edge

See you in court—but which one? Tim Mavko Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer LLP

Construction disputes happen. When they do, sensible people try to solve them. Sometimes, despite everyone’s best intentions, a dispute can’t be settled and the parties go to court. But which court? There are six different courts that might decide construction disputes in Alberta. Provincial court Suppose a plumber claims he’s owed $20,000 for a new bathroom. Conversely, suppose the homeowner complains that the work is defective and it will take all of the unpaid balance, and then another $5,000, to stop the leaks and fix the water damage. If they sue each other, they might do it in the civil division of the provincial court of Alberta. Commonly known as small claims court, this court decides claims up to $25,000. The procedure here is meant to be economical and efficient. The filing fee is $100­–$200 to start a lawsuit (depending on the amount of the claim) and detailed instructions and pre-printed forms are available at the courthouse counter and online. The parties can (and often do) represent themselves. If they hire lawyers, the lawyers wear business suits, rather than robes, in the courtroom. There is little pre-trial disclosure and few pre-trial steps. Sometimes the parties have a pre-trial meeting with a judge who might direct them to give each other copies of key documents. Sometimes they are told to try to settle through mediation. Claims get to trial quickly in provincial court. Our plumber and homeowner

96 | Fall 2012

will likely have their trial within months. And the trial won’t likely last more than a day or two; most are finished in a couple of hours. Court of Queen’s Bench But if our plumber and homeowner were fighting over, say, $1 million, they would have to go to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. This is the court of superior jurisdiction, meaning it hears most types of claims, without any monetary limit. It is also the court that handles builders’ liens (regardless of the amount) and appeals from the provincial court. Lawsuits here take longer and cost more. While technically possible for individuals (but not corporations) to represent themselves, it is not a good idea. There are complex rules governing each step, from preparing court documents to disclosing information to using expert witnesses. Good legal advice is important. A lawsuit in this court between our plumber and homeowner may take years to get to trial. Before then, there will be pre-trial motions, oral questioning, perhaps even disputes over records and answers. At trial, the lawyers will wear formal gowns (but, thankfully, no wigs) and the matter will be heard by a justice (not a judge). It’s not unusual for trials in this court to last weeks, or even months. Court of Appeal The highest court in this province is the Alberta Court of Appeal. This is where plumbers or homeowners go if they don’t like a decision from the Court of Queen’s Bench.

The procedure in this court is even more complex and difficult. There are rigid rules about what can be appealed and how the appeal is to be argued. Written briefs are required, and they must follow fixed formats. Appeals are usually decided by panels of three justices. Federal Court (trial and appeal divisions) The Federal Court is where claims by or against the Government of Canada are heard. So, if the dispute is over, say, work in a government building, on an army base or in a national park, then the claim might be heard in Federal Court. The initial trial would be heard in the trial division. Any appeal would be heard in the appeal division. Each division has its own rules and procedures. Navigating these courts takes time, money and usually a lawyer. Supreme Court of Canada The Supreme Court of Canada is the last stop. Located in Ottawa, it is the highest court in Canada. It is an appellate court, meaning it only hears appeals from other courts, which in our case would be the Alberta Court of Appeal and the Federal Court. The Supreme Court picks and chooses the cases it hears. By law, the Supreme Court will hear construction cases, which, in its opinion, are of “public importance.” This means that the facts or issues must affect a wide range of people. Or if the facts are not wide ranging, then there must be a dispute over a fundamental point of law. To date, that has not included a leaky bathtub.

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What’s in a deal?

The power of the public-private partnership By Tim Rogers

Energy efficiency and sustainability are becoming the focus of commercial negotiations more so than ever before. Years ago, I was advising a public-sector client on the public-private partnership (P3) procurement of a new accommodation facility and the discussion turned to various aspects of its service requirements, including the environmental and energy efficiency standards of the new building. On some level, this topic didn’t need to be complicated—after all, there were established regulatory guidelines and various industry standards that could be applied. The conversation could have focused on standards and deciding if this was a risk the public sector was willing to take. Looking back on what felt like a long and heated debate, it was actually an encouraging first step at coming up with a solution that worked for both parties. When bringing the private and public sectors together, it’s critical to use time

wisely and have debates about topics that are important. Adding a hefty price tag and compromising on specifications are not options. Both sides care about getting it right. Since this client negotiation a few years ago, the issue of energy efficiency and sustainability has gained even more attention, rising to the top of citizens’ and politicians’ agendas, and for good reason. Over half the world’s population lives in cities (a statistic which is significantly higher for Alberta) and generate over 70 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases. As Canada’s cities are refreshing their infrastructure, there is increasing emphasis on doing this intelligently to build sustainable, environmentally conscious solutions. It is clear that green issues, and energy in particular, will dictate the infrastructure agenda going forward. This move is already underway. The 2012 edition of Infrastructure 100: World

Cities Edition was published by KPMG in July, identifying the 100 most innovative and inspiring urban infrastructure projects. Of the six Canadian projects highlighted, three were breaking ground in the development of renewable energy, along with many other projects from around the world. I am also very pleased to see that Alberta Construction Magazine has introduced a new category this year in its Top Projects Awards feature, to recognize best-in-class infrastructure projects for sustainability. It’s important to remember that energy efficiency is not just about the production facilities and new smart distribution networks—a significant challenge is the buildings themselves. Building design must incorporate energy efficiency best practices, with contracts that encourage this type of sustainable energy use. When done correctly, the building is something owners, operators and tenants can be

Alberta Construction Magazine | 99

p3s proud of. The building I’m sitting in at the moment, for example, is proudly displaying its energy efficiency certifications on the screens in every elevator.

Building design must incorporate energy efficiency best practices, with contracts that encourage this type of sustainable energy use.

energy will drive the infrastructure agenda…but isn’t the only factor I’ve suggested that energy issues are going to drive the infrastructure agenda, and that is true. Energy efficiency and green standards will be integrated into all classes of infrastructure design going forward. Despite its importance, energy efficiency is neither the sole focus nor the most important. Looking at the use of a building is critical—creating a safe environment for children to learn will always be the main focus when building schools. Water-treatment plants will always be about clean, safe water. Delivering an energy-efficient agenda in a P3 environment may have its challenges, but its benefits are worth clarifying. The first is funding. Whether or not the project obtains a grant from the P3 Canada fund, the access to private finance to make essential and urgent infrastructure improvements can be a necessity in


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p3s times of financial austerity, and enables the cost of the facilities to be spread over the life of the asset instead of a one-time, up-front payment. The second major benefit P3s provide is peace of mind for taxpayers. Cost overruns and delays fall to the private-sector partner’s account, providing contractual certainty to the users on what they need to budget over an extended period of time. They also provide certainty over delivery timescales and performance quality standards, which are backed by financial incentives and contractual remedies. It is this certainty, this transfer of operational delivery risk to the private sector, which really drives the value in many publicsector infrastructure projects. The impact of regulatory approval What made my client’s negotiation so challenging? It all came down to output specification. In order to realize a project’s value, the service delivery requirements for the private-sector partner need to be put into “output” form. Optimal value is reached when each risk sits with the party best able to manage it. So, if the private

sector is to accept the risk of cost increases efficiently (or in other words, cheaply) they need to be in a position to manage those costs. Meaning, when in negotiations, it’s critical to define the output rather than the input; saying what needs to be delivered, not how to deliver it. For example, if you need something to write with when upside down, the contract should say exactly that, not require the purchase of a $70 pressurized cartridge “space pen” and therefore prevent the use of a pencil instead. In any area of regulatory approval for facilities, factoring in industry bodies and certification agencies, the output specification would appear easy to write. Either name the existing applicable standard to get certified in, or go even wider and say applicable industry standards and guidelines. The practice, however, is more difficult. It is uncommon practice for a regulatory body to give pre-approval or comfort at a design stage, instead requiring a facility to be built (and sometimes operational) before certification. While the process might seem similar in structure to the traditional role of an


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Independent Certifier, the work undertaken is very different to the snagging that would typically be done on a building. At this point, any rectification that is required to bring the building up to the contractual standard could be difficult and expensive to fix, if not impossible. For a P3 contract with an availability-based payment mechanism, the deductions and time delays involved could easily put a contractor at risk of breaching deduction thresholds and long-stop dates, effectively putting a termination trigger in the control of a disinterested (from a contract perspective) third party. The other end of the implementation spectrum has its issues too. Removing responsibility altogether from the contractor to comply with standards does exactly that. It removes any incentives for the contractor to meet the standards during both the construction and operational phases—simply not meeting the energy agenda. This puts parties back to sharing energy-use risk the old-fashioned way, setting a benchmark across the first few years of operations, and then applying a pain/gain share mechanism to split the


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Alberta Construction Magazine | 101

p3s costs and savings in future years. Many contracts have been signed under these conditions, but bring the challenge of integrating design and build issues into the benchmark, and can be too blunt a tool to reflect the high impact that the user has on energy consumption. Changing standards, shortening durations Another consideration in applying efficiency standards to infrastructure is the contract duration. The standards put into a contract need to be appropriate for the life of that agreement, which is typically dictated by the expected useful economic life of the asset. However, the potential for volatility in environmental legislation and industry best practice may require an element of flexibility not usually associated with P3 contracts. In more extreme examples, this may be a factor in deciding to go with shorter contract duration. It’s not likely to be the deciding factor for traditional accommodation-type deals, but it might be for infrastructure with a more direct impact on green issues, such as waste water treatment plants. Reducing the contract duration introduces a number

of other complexities as well, including matching life-cycle plans and dealing with the residual value of assets at the end of the agreement. The term will also impact the cost of funding if the same borrowing is required to be repaid over a shorter period. The answer Sadly, while the issues, risks and complexities associated with projects can be understood in general terms, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The answer on any given project is done on a case-bycase basis. There are, however, a number of things you can do to make the process as seamless as possible: ■ Learn from other projects. This means tapping into both your own organization’s knowledge and experience, and any information available from contracts signed with other public-sector organizations, and of course with your external advisors and consultants. ■ Address it early and have a realistic timeline. Coming up with a workable solution can take longer than you expect, and it’s more efficient for all the parties to reach agreement on the guiding

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102 | Fall 2012

principles while it is still possible to influence the relevant aspects of the contract and design. ■ Understand the positions of all parties involved. There aren’t necessarily just commercial and financial issues at play. It’s just as important for contractors to understand the public sector’s interest as it is for the public sector to appreciate the impact on the contractor consortium, including construction partners, operations and maintenance partners, and the financial sponsors and lenders. The solution has to be acceptable to all parties. ■ Don’t lose sight of the big picture. Context is everything because long and heated discussions are only encouraging for those involved the first time around. Editor’s note: Tim Rogers is a director within KPMG’s Global Infrastructure Advisory Practice based in Alberta. He has advised on nearly 50 P3 and project finance transactions from both the public-sector and private-sector bidder side, with an aggregate value of over $15 billion across a wide range of sectors. For more information on Infrastructure 100: World Cities Edition, visit

Take in the

view from The





NomiNaTe your Top project! Nominations are now open for the 11th annual Alberta Construction Magazine Top Projects awards. Until October 1, go online to complete the entry process and learn more about this year’s expanded award categories. Winners will be featured in Alberta Construction Magazine’s winter issue.

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time capsule


LougheeD HOUSE

built in 1891 by one of Calgary’s most influential families, the lougheed house, a sandstone mansion that embodies high Victorian style, was a social and political hub in the burgeoning city. indeed, one of James Alexander lougheed’s legacies is his work to grant provincial status to Alberta in 1905. with its rough-faced sandstone exterior and smooth sandstone stringcourses, asymmetrical massing, irregular roofline and corner towers, the majestic home of senator lougheed, lady isabella hardisty lougheed and their six children and staff reflected the prestige and wealth of this highly influential family. the lougheeds entertained the likes of the duke and duchess of Connaught, their daughter Princess Patricia, and Prince Edward at the “beaulieu,” and its stunning gardens on the 2.8-acre estate. the interior has such lavish features as spanish mahogany, italian marble and stained-glass windows that highlight the flora and fauna of Alberta, as well as modern conveniences that were rare for the time like electric lighting, hot and cold running water, and central heating.

104 | Fall 2012

Following senator lougheed’s death in 1925 and the onset of the great depression, the lougheed estate couldn’t pay the property taxes on its real estate holdings and the city took legal title of the house in 1934. lady lougheed was allowed to continue living there until her death in 1936. since that time, the lougheed house has continued to play a major role in shaping the social fabric of Calgary, first as a training centre where women lived and learned about home nursing and housekeeping, and later as a home to the Canadian women’s Army Corps and the Canadian red Cross society. the Province of Alberta designated the house a Provincial historic resource in 1976, and a national historic site declaration followed in 1995. Over the next decade, extensive work restored the building to its Victorian and Edwardian grandeur. with restorations completed in 2005, the lougheed house now hosts wedding receptions and swanky functions. it is open for public tours and holds various exhibits. Every year the gardens are designed, planted and landscaped to a different theme.


The Lougheed House and gardens, circa 1912.

time capsule

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With restorations completed in 2005, the lougheed House now hosts wedding receptions and swanky functions.


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Alberta Construction Magazine | 105

advertisers’ index

aD INDEx ACO systems ltd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 Alberta blue Cross . . . . . . . . . . .outside back cover Alberta Construction safety Association . . . . . 97 Alberta truss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Alberta wilbert sales ltd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Astec inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 & 21 Atb Corporate Financial services . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 bantrel Co . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 beaver Plastics ltd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 bobcat Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 brandt Positioning technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 brandt tractor ltd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 brock white Canada Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Calgary Construction Association . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Cal-gas inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Canadian welding bureau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Canadian western bank. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Canessco services inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Chase Operator training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Chemco Electrical Contractors ltd . . . . . . . . . . . 39 davidson Enman lumber ltd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 devon Canada Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 durwest Construction systems (Alta) ltd . . . . . 56 ECCO waste systems lP . . . . . . . inside front cover Edmonton Exchanger & Manufacturing ltd . . 41 Electrical Contractors Association of Alberta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 & 106

106 | Fall 2012

Ellisdon Construction services inc . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Emco Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Eskimo steel ltd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 & 73 Faculty of Extension, university of Alberta . . 102 graham group ltd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 grant Metal Products ltd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 hertz Equipment rental Corp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 iCs group inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 iMAginit technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 imperial Oil ltd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 & 83 integral Containment systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 iron Planet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 iVis inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 & 35 ketek rentals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 klimer Platforms inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 kPMg MslP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 kubota Canada ltd . . . . . . . . . . . inside back cover levelton Consultants ltd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 lloyd sadd insurance ltd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 MAPEi inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Merchandise Mart Properties inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 mindjello creative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 Mount royal university . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 nAit Corporate and international training . . . 58 northland Construction supplies . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Owens Corning Canada . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78

PCl Constructors inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Phoenix Fence inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Proform Precast Products inc . . . . . . . . . . . 90 & 94 reynolds Mirth richards & Farmer llP . . . . . . . 13 rocky Mountain Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 roxul inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 sAit Polytechnic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 scona Cycle honda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 sMs Equipment inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 spatial technologies Partnership group . . . . . 74 stuart Olson dominion Construction ltd . . . . . 56 the truck Outfitters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 toole Peet insurance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 united rentals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Vertigo theatre society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 Vet’s sheet Metal ltd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 Vicwest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Voice Construction ltd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 western Construction Products . . . . . . . . . 48 & 49 western surety Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 westernOne rentals & sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 williams scotsman of Canada, inc . . . . . . . . . . . 100 wolseley Engineered Pipe Alberta . . . . . . . . . . . 82 workers’ Compensation board-Alberta . . . . . . 77 worleyParsonsCord ltd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 xylem inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

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How the hot energy sector is driving decisions, from upgraders to training PLUS | Customized approach to safety vests


Alberta Construction Magazine September 2012  

Energy Boost - How the hot energy sector is driving decisions, from upgraders to training.

Alberta Construction Magazine September 2012  

Energy Boost - How the hot energy sector is driving decisions, from upgraders to training.