U.S. contractors pass on work due to labour shortages

Key Takeaways:

  • Construction employment went up in 268 of 358 metro areas in the U.S.
  • Officials say the gains would have been higher but demand for new project is outpacing labour availability. 
  • Contractors reported this is causing them to pass on projects. 

The Whole Story:

A new report shows labour shortages are suppressing construction in the U.S.

Construction employment increased in 268 of 358 metro areas between November 2021 and November 2022, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new government employment data. Association officials said the job gains likely would have been higher but that many contractors report that demand for new projects is outpacing the availability of workers in many parts of the country.

“Contractors report they are passing on projects because they do not have enough people to do the work,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Labor shortages are suppressing job gains in the construction industry in many parts of the country.”

Where the gains are happening

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas added the most construction jobs (18,500 jobs or 9 per cent), followed by Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (13,500 jobs, 9 per cent); Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (10,400 jobs, 10 per cent) and Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (9,400 jobs, 7 per cent). 

The largest percentage gains were in Provo-Orem, Utah (23 percent, 6,400 jobs); Anchorage, Alaska (15 per cent, 1,400 jobs), Kankakee, Ill. (15 per cent, 200 jobs), Grants Pass, Ore. (15 percent, 200 jobs) and Providence-Warwick, R.I. (15 per cent, 4,000 jobs).

Construction jobs declined over the year in 45 metro areas and were unchanged in 45 areas. The largest loss occurred in Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. (-8,500 jobs, -10 per cent), followed by Richmond, Va. (-3,300 jobs, -8 percent); Camden, N.J. (-1,700 jobs, -7 per cent) and Austin-Round Rock, Texas (-1,400 jobs, -2 per cent). The largest percentage declines occurred in Orlando, Richmond and Camden.

Contractors passing on work

Association officials said that demand for construction remained relatively strong in many parts of the country, buoyed by robust public construction and infrastructure investments and strength in certain types of private sector development. They cautioned, however, that contractors in parts of the country report they are not bidding on projects because they do not have enough personnel to perform the work.

The association explained that is taking steps to address labor shortages, including running targeted digital advertising campaigns to recruit new workers. Meanwhile, more than 800 firms have signed up for the association’s Culture of Care program to make workplaces more welcoming and inclusive to retain a higher percentage, and more diverse, workforce.

Immigration reform needed

Association officials urged Congress to pass immigration reform to allow more construction workers to enter the country. They also pushed for greater investments in construction-focused training and education programs.

“We are working hard to recruit and retain a new generation of construction professionals,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Public officials can help put more people into high-paying construction careers by making common sense immigration reforms and investing in domestic construction prep programs as well.”

Get ready to hit the ice. 

Surrey officials approved a contract for the supply and installation of piles for the Cloverdale Sport & Ice Complex. A $3.1 million contract was awarded to Graham Construction and Engineering LP for the next phase of construction. Once complete, the new arena will increase Surrey’s overall ice capacity, while accommodating the need for an additional ice arena in Cloverdale.

“This next phase of construction of the Cloverdale Sport & Ice Complex is a milestone for this long-awaited project,” said Mayor Brenda Locke. “With foundation work starting, this new destination sport complex is on its way to providing much-needed additional ice in Cloverdale. When completed, the Cloverdale Sport & Ice Complex will have two NHL-sized sheets available for team play and public use.  This project has also been designed to grow as the community grows by having the option to add a third ice sheet.”

Construction of the Cloverdale Sport & Ice Complex began in August 2022 and was included in the 2021 Five-Year (2021-2025) Capital Financial Plan. Along with two new ice sheets, the project includes seating for 200 spectators per sheet, multi-purpose and community rooms, change rooms and other supporting amenities. The complex is also designed with the option to add another NHL-sized arena sheet.

When opened, the new ice sheets will offer various programs including ice hockey, figure skating, public lessons, skating sessions, and dry-floor summer use for sports such as a lacrosse and ball hockey. Officials say the new sports and recreation facility has been designed to be energy efficient and meet the highest standards for accessibility.

The Cloverdale Sport & Ice Complex will be located at 6336 177B Street and will open in the fall of 2024.

Stony Plain Road Bridge is coming down.

Edmonton officials announced that on Dec. 29, Stony Plain Road from 129 Street to 131 Street and Groat Road from 107 Avenue to River Valley Road, including the shared-use path, will be closed as Marigold Infrastructure Partners (MIP) begin demolishing the Stony Plain Road Bridge. Replacement of the bridge is required for the Valley Line West LRT project.  

Eastbound and westbound vehicle and pedestrian traffic across Stony Plain Road Bridge will be detoured to 102 Avenue or 107 Avenue until fall 2024. 

Construction for Valley Line West includes two new bridges: one crossing Groat Road on Stony Plain Road between 129 Street and Connaught Drive and another crossing Anthony Henday at 87 Avenue.

According to the city, construction of the new bridge will take up to two years. The new bridge will be wider to accommodate one lane of vehicle traffic in either direction, the Valley Line West LRT, a sidewalk and a shared-use path on the south side of the bridge. Once completed, the mixed-use transportation corridor is expected to improve access to and from the west end to downtown.

Alberta officials say 2022 was a major year for infrastructure work, outlining all the progress that was made on significant projects. 

“Throughout 2022, Infrastructure played a major role in proactively rebuilding our economy. Many infrastructure projects around the province provided thousands of construction and related jobs in local communities,” said Nathan Neudorf, deputy premier and minister of infrastructure. “We have worked on accelerating priority projects and cutting red tape in order to get shovels in the ground faster at sites across Alberta. Moving forward into 2023, we will continue to work with the rest of government to ensure our province is focused on the priority infrastructure needs of Albertans.” 

Construction was completed on:

  • Nineteen school projects, creating more than 7,300 new and 3,800 modernized student spaces throughout the province. An additional 43 school projects are underway in the planning, design or construction phase.
  • Four health projects, including the $1.4-billion 186,000 square metre Calgary Cancer Centre. Last summer, at the peak of construction, more than 1,650 trades and construction workers were on site. 
  • Red Deer recovery community facility. Another five facilities located in Lethbridge, Gunn, Calgary, Edmonton and the Blood Tribe First Nation are currently in the planning, design or construction phase. 

Progress was made on:

  • Phase I of the new more than $400-million Gene Zwozdesky Centre at Norwood. Currently 350 construction workers are on site daily.
  • Redevelopment of the Misericordia Community Hospital Emergency Department. This $85-million project is supporting about 476 construction and related jobs and is anticipated to be complete in March 2023.
  • Planning for the expansion and redevelopment of the Red Deer Regional Hospital. Design work is anticipated to begin in early 2023 and more information will be shared soon.

In 2022, Alberta’s government continued to announce funding approvals through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) for projects in communities around Alberta. Through ICIP, Alberta has been allocated $3.66 billion by the federal government to invest in infrastructure projects that strengthen the economy and build resilient communities. To date, more than 200 projects and project bundles have been approved for ICIP funding in more than 30 Alberta constituencies, allocating about 99 per cent of the provided funding to date.

These federal-provincial-local cost-sharing ICIP projects mean the investment of about $9 billion worth of design and construction work.

B.C. officials are putting the brakes on a coal mining project in the province’s northeast. 

Officials announced that an environmental assessment certificate will not be issued for the proposed Sukunka coal mine project following a joint decision by provincial ministers.

George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy, and Josie Osborne, minister of energy, mines and low carbon innovation, stated that they made their decision after carefully considering the environmental assessment of the project conducted by B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO). The assessment of the project proposed by Glencore involved consultation with technical experts, federal and local authorities, First Nations and the public.

According to Glencore, the project would have been a capital investment of $450 million. 

Impact on wildlife

The EAO recommended a certificate not be issued after concluding that the key mitigation measures proposed would be unlikely to reduce the potential negative impacts of the project to an acceptable level.

The assessment found the project would have significant adverse and cumulative effects on the threatened and red-listed Quintette caribou herd, increasing the risk of its extinction. Following substantial discussions between Glencore, federal and provincial caribou experts, Treaty 8 First Nations and the EAO, the EAO concluded that even with proposed mitigation measures and requirements, impacts to caribou would be significant if the project were to proceed.

The EAO’s assessment additionally found that the project would have significant cumulative effects on grizzly bears, by adding to existing impacts from previous development in the region, as well as adverse impacts to First Nations, such as treaty rights to hunt.

No duplicate assessments 

The project also requires a federal environmental assessment and decision. The B.C. EAO carried out the assessment on behalf of the federal government under a “substitution agreement.” This means the one assessment carried out by the EAO is used to support separate decisions by each level of government, eliminating the duplication of two assessments for a single project. The federal decision was also announced Dec. 21, 2022.

The Sukunka project was proposed by Glencore as an open-pit mining operation and coal processing plant about 55 kilometres south of Chetwynd and 40 kilometres west of Tumbler Ridge. The proposal was for production of approximately three megatonnes of metallurgical coal per year for export to overseas steel manufacturers over 22 years.

Key Takeaways:

  • hyperTunnel conducted a large-scale demonstration of their swarm robot technique.
  • The technology is being investigated for use repairing old rail infrastructure.
  • The startup has received investment from VINCI and the European Innovation Council.

The Whole Story:

A tech startup wants to put robot swarms to work digging the tunnels of tomorrow. 

UK company hyperTunnel revealed this fall the world’s first underground structure built entirely by robots

The Peak XV tunnel was entirely robot-constructed at a research and development facility in the North Hampshire Downs.

hyperTunnel stated that its automated construction method is designed to build tunnels more than 10 times faster and at half the cost of conventional methods. Their team added that approach is significantly friendlier to the environment and will use sustainable materials such as low-carbon concrete. It also limits the potential for injuries to humans. 

Using swarm construction methods according to a digital twin of the tunnel, a fleet of hyperBot robots enter the ground via an arch of HDPE pipes. Once inside, the robots 3D-print the tunnel shell by deploying construction material directly into the ground. 

The 6 metre-long, 2 metre-high and 2 metre-wide Peak XV pedestrian-scale tunnel has been delivered as part of a project for Network Rail and revealed at the British Tunnelling Society Conference & Exhibition in London.

The Network Rail project has been demonstrating the hyperTunnel process, investigating the technologies that are key to low-disruption tunnel repairs for the UK’s regional railway infrastructure, which includes approximately 650 Victorian age tunnels.

“Our large portfolio of Victorian tunnels requires increasing levels of work to meet the needs of the railway network,” said David Castlo, Network Rail’s network technical head. ”However, we want to reduce the level of disruption to our passengers so we are constantly searching for new approaches to enlarging or repairing tunnels that reduce the length of time a tunnel will be closed to trains. Peak XV moves us a step closer to that goal and, crucially, with a method that reduces workforce safety risk.”

Steve Jordan, co-CEO and co-Founder of hyperTunnel, said the  large scale demonstration tunnel is a big step, not only for hyperTunnel, but for the tunnelling and construction industries. “While using robots exclusively to build underground structures is dramatically different, the contributing technologies, such as digital twins, robotics, 3D printing and digital underground surveying, supported by AI and VR, are all well-proven in other industries,” said Jordan. “In fact, the hyperTunnel in-situ method is all about de-risking construction projects.”

Earlier this year, hyperTunnel received funding of 1.88 million Euros from the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator scheme, Europe’s flagship innovation program. The company also received a financial investment from VINCI, a global leader in concessions, energy and construction businesses.

Video: See how the tunnelling process works


EllisDon has appointed Michael Casey to the position of senior vice president and general counsel.

“We are very excited about Michael taking on this new role,” says Kieran Hawe, COO and executive vice president at EllisDon. “Michael and the Legal Services team will continue to be an integral part of the EllisDon family as the company continues to grow.”

Casey began his legal career at a private legal firm in Toronto as a member of the Financial Services Group focused on business restructuring and corporate finance. In 2011, Casey joined EllisDon Legal Services as legal counsel before being promoted to senior counsel in 2014, managing director in 2015, vice president and deputy general counsel in 2019, privacy officer in 2020, and currently, senior vice president and general counsel.

In the new role Casey will oversee EllisDon’s Legal Services department and all its functions, including all litigation, Public-Private-Partnerships (P3), corporate, labour relations, international, and insurance claims.

“I am very excited to lead a team of dynamic, intelligent, and like-minded people who do some of the best work in our industry,” said Casey.

Throughout his tenure at EllisDon, Casey has been involved in most aspects of the business, including construction contract negotiations, subcontractor-consultant contractual issues, corporate acquisitions and real estate transactions, corporate secretarial matters, litigation management and claims strategies, enterprise intelligence, and digital services.

As vice president and deputy general counsel, Michael was responsible for leading Legal Services’ litigation and claims functions, in addition to his involvement in various aspects of the legal services group. He was head legal counsel on some of Canada’s largest and most complex construction and infrastructure projects.

Casey will retain the position of corporate privacy officer and remain active on several internal EllisDon committees.

In 2020, Casey was the recipient of On-Site Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 award for the Canadian Construction industry. He is also a frequent guest lecturer at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Ontario’s property inventory continued to grow in 2022, with more than $37.8 billion in new assessments, which includes new construction and improvements to existing properties. According to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), residential homes made up over $28.6 billion of the increase, while commercial and industrial properties comprised $4.6 billion.

The assessed value of Ontario’s 5.5 million properties is now estimated to be more than $3.08 trillion. MPAC summarizes these changes in the annual assessment rolls that they delivered to Ontario’s municipalities.

Condos slow down

Over the course of the year, Ontario added more than 48,000 residential homes. While the number of new detached homes increased 10.5 per cent year over year (25,727, up from 23,279), the number of new residential condominiums dropped by 37.4 per cent (7,097, down from 11,331). There was also a small increase in new townhouses, coming in at approximately 1.3 per cent (10,484, up from 10,350).

“The slowdown we see in new residential condominiums is attributed to construction delays arising from changing economic considerations and supply issues,” said Nicole McNeill, MPAC’s president and CEO. “Despite this slowdown in new residential condominiums, we did see year-over-year growth in other property types.”

10 municipalities key to growth

Across Ontario, more than 55 per cent of new property value was located in 10 municipalities. Toronto led the way for another year at $8.7 billion (down from $10.7 billion in 2021) followed by Ottawa at $4.4 billion (up from $3 billion), then Mississauga at $1.2 billion (down from $1.6 billion), Vaughan at $1.1 billion (down from $2 billion), and Oakville at $1.1 billion (holding steady) for another year.

When looking at the growth rates for small municipalities (under 15,000 population), Blue Mountains had the largest overall growth this year ($140.2 million) despite a drop in new seasonal properties from the previous year (down to $29.3 million from $32.7 million). Muskoka Lakes followed with $120.3 million, then Middlesex Centre with $103.7 million, North Perth with $90.9 million and Carleton Place with $89.9 million.

An arctic chill has settled over much of Canada, prompting many to install their snow tires, layer up and begrudgingly shovel the driveway.

But we can take comfort in one thing: it could be worse. A lot worse. 

Let’s explore Yakutsk, the coldest city in the world. It sits near the Lena River, in East Siberia. The biggest economic driver in the region is mining as it is rich in coal, gold and diamonds. As such, many mining companies have set up their headquarters nearby.

But housing people and transporting goods isn’t easy when your average monthly temperatures range from 19.9 C in July to −37.0 C in December. The lowest temperature ever recorded there was −64.4 C. Want to drive your car? You better keep it in a heated garage or leave it running outside.

Permanently frozen

The city of Yakutsk has a mixture of modern tall buildings, Soviet time blocks of apartments and old wooden houses. Many of them are brightly coloured in an effort to combat depression and provide landmarks in low-visibility conditions. 

According to the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, the warm air coming from homes and buildings also causes “habitation fog” because the air is so cold that it cannot rise. 

Yakutsk is the largest city in the world built completely on top of permafrost, a layer of frozen soil hundreds of meters deep which never melts. This requires most structures to be built on top of stilts or piles so that their heat from the buildings does not melt the layers below and cause instability. 

Experts at Siberia Federal University explained that there are many kinds of piles, like bored piles developed by the specialists from the city of Krasnoyarsk. Thanks to this technology, the special auguring drill cuts through the permafrost before reinforced cage is put inside and then filled with concrete.

Now the industry also uses modern concrete compounds, which do not get frosted during the pours. Previously the ground had to be thawed by steaming for months for the piles to be inserted. They noted that pile-supported buildings were first constructed by Michael Kim, a former labour camp prisoner who studied permafrost and was awarded the Lenin Prize, one of the most prestigious honours in Soviet Russia, for his innovations. 

Colourful buildings line the streets of Yakutsk, the coldest city in the world. – Creative Commons License

Rethinking design

Solving the issues that the region’s extreme weather present for buildings was a passion for Siberian architect A. D. Kryachkov. When he designed and built structures in the 1910s-1930s, he wanted to use science to prevent damage and durability issues. He studied the behaviour of structural materials and structural elements in the cold climate conditions and incorporated the results into the design process. As a result his buildings have preserved their original image for many decades. 

His research identified important laws of joint work of building structures and components in Siberian conditions. He also demonstrated it is the mid-season with sharp negative and positive temperature changes rather than winter that present a the biggest danger to structures. Since watering in such conditions leads to structure freezing, he argued that architects should consider protection of a building from accumulation of precipitants on its structures and elements. 

Some of his techniques included using a special, semi-flattened plastic with dominating vertical structural elements for building faces. Balconies had a minimal overhang. Flat pilasters and belt courses, horizontal and vertical structural elements, shaped as dumb window sills and frames of windows and pillars, served as the main means of plastic expressiveness for the designer. The buildings had inclined roofing, ventilated attics to prevent rot and were devoid of blind ramparts.

Yakutsk’s utilities have to be built above ground due to permafrost. – Creative Commons License

Bridging the Lena

The extreme weather doesn’t stop major infrastructure projects from moving forward. In 2020, a concession agreement was signed for the design, construction and operation of a bridge across the river Lena in Yakutia between the government  and OOO Eighth Concession Company, owned by the VIS Group. The project is structured as a private concession initiative.

The river slices through the Yakutia region cutting off more than 80 per cent of the region’s residents from travel for roughly 6 months each year.

In June, VIS Group announced early work on the project is well underway. This includes land preparation, and removal and reconstruction of utilities. Crews must now move a high-pressure gas pipeline that spans over 900 meters. They are also dismantling and moving high-voltage power lines. Design and construction is expected to take six years and the bridge’s lifespan will be around 19 years. 

A rendering of the Lena River bridge project. – VIS Group

The past few years haven’t exactly been a golden age for in-person events. COVID-19 threw all major gatherings up in the air for years. However, we have gradually seen many major events make their return after delays and cancellations. Here are some major ones that are already planned for the coming year.

Canadian Construction Association Annual Conference 

The annual event is organized by the Canadian Construction Association and it features speakers, webinars and networking events. One of this year’s keynotes will be done by Peace by Chocolate CEO and founder Tareq Hadhad who will tell his story of coming to Canada as a Syrian refugee. Session topics include procurement, workforce retention, trade-enabling infrastructure, green public procurement and more. 

When: March 7-10 

Where: The Hilton El Conquistador in Tucson, Arizona 

Register here


It’s the largest trade show in North America and it only happens every three years. This year it’s set to break records with 1,800 exhibitors and 150 education sessions during its run. There will be more than 2.8 million square feet of exhibits to check out. Organizers say this year’s focus will be on the next level of sustainability in the construction sector.

When: March 14-18

Where: Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada

Register here

World of Concrete

This is a big one for all things concrete and it’s coming up quick. The event features original equipment manufacturers from around the world and exclusive U.S. distributors of equipment, tools, products and services for the commercial construction, concrete and masonry industries. The event attracts approximately 1,500 exhibiting companies and occupies more than 700,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibit space.

When: Jan, 17-19

Where: Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada

Register here

Canadian Concrete Expo

After concrete aficionados are done in Las Vegas, they can zip over to Toronto to check out this event. This coming year will feature mixed martial arts fighter and actor Georges St-Pierre, a full scale 3D construction printing demo and discussions around the path to net-zero. 

When: Feb. 16-17 

Where: The International Centre in Mississauga, Ont. 

Register here

Pacific Northwest Economic Region Annual Summit 

What: This even brings together U.S. and Canadian industry experts and government officials. More than 550 legislators, business leaders, academics and policymakers will come together to discuss issues that impact the region. 

When: July 16-20

Where: Boise, Idaho

More info

The Good Roads Annual Conference 

Organized by Good Roads, a municipal association concerned with the quality and design of roads in Ontario. The annual conference is three days of speakers and exhibits all centered around the cutting edge of roads. 

When: April 16-19

Where: Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Ont. 

Register here

Western Canada Roadbuilders & Heavy Construction Association Conference

Pack your snorkel for the Hawaiian beaches if you plan on attending. Gary Mar, president & CEO of the Canada West Foundation will kick this event off by talking about the Role Western Canada should play in global trade. Other speakers include CCA president Mary Van Buren, former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 

When: Feb. 5-9

Where: Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort in Waikiki, Hawaii 

Register here

Buildex Vancouver

It’s all about the built environment at Buildex. The series of shows features panels, seminars, workships, innovation showcases and more. The upcoming conference includes a greenbuild pavilion, the climate resiliency and retrofit learning lab and showcases of construction software.

When: Feb. 15-16

Where: Vancouver Convention Centre West, Vancouver, B.C.

Register here

Buildex Alberta

Who could forget B.C.’s neighbour to the east? Buildex is Alberta’s largest B2B construction event. It covers construction, architecture, engineering, design and property management professions with live demos, activations and installations. It will have more than 100 speakers and more than 1,400 participants. 

When: Oct. 18-19

Where: Calgary Telus Convention Centre in Calgary, Alta.

Register here

Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference 

Organizers state that the conference serves as a catalyst for women to expand their presence, influence and career success in an ever shifting industry. They added that It also has grown into the leading talent development and networking event for construction industry professionals. The 2023 event will be kicked off by Nancy Bray, an industrial engineer and 33-year NASA veteran. 

When: May 11-12

Where: Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California  

More info

Construction Specifications Canada Conference 

This conference promises education, professional development, networking, entertainment and fun. Topics include design considerations for current construction trends, smart buildings, mentorship, material transparency and more. 

When: May 24-28

Where: The Westin Calgary Hotel in Calgary, Alta. 

Register here

The Buildings Show

This massive show has been around for more than 30 years. It features industry experts sharing their knowledge about the built environment. Speakers and sessions are geared towards design, architecture, construction, renovation and property management professionals, experts and suppliers. 

When: Nov. 29 to Dec. 1

Where: Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Ont. 

More info

Expo Grands Travaux 

Eastern Canada’s largest heavy equipment industry trade show includes major industry OEMs and dealers, and tons of big iron. Attendees can check out educational seminars, plus the all-new Demo Zone to watch equipment live in action.

When: April 21-23

Where: Espace Saint-Hyacinthe in St-Hyacinthe, Que. 

Register here


Roofing experts, this one is just for you. ROOFtech is dedicated to Canada’s roofing industry. It includes a trade show and educational sessions. The show features more than 150 exhibitors and live demonstrations.  It is produced by the Canadian Roofing Contractors Association, Informa Connect, and the Ontario Industrial Roofing Contractors Association

When: April 4-5

Where: The International Centre in Toronto, Ont. 

More info

CSAM: The Safety Conference

Organized by the Construction Safety Association of Manitoba, the event aims to provide participants with education and practical hands-on training. Each year the conference issues 2500 training certificates and sees more than 1,500 registrants. Organizers say it is the largest construction safety conference in North America. 

When: Feb. 14-15

Where: RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg, Man. 

Register here

Someone is going on Santa’s naughty list for this one. 

The North Vancouver RCMP are asking for the public’s help in locating an excavator stolen from a construction site located in 600 block of E 6th St. in North Vancouver, BC.

On Dec. 15th the owner of a 2018 John Deere 50G excavator called police to report his equipment was stolen from the construction site. 

According to police, witnesses observed the excavator being loaded onto a flatbed and the thieves traveling eastbound in the laneway the night before at approximately 10:30 p.m.

The excavator is worth $50,000 and it is the third stolen excavator for the property owner in four years.

“The North Vancouver RCMP is asking for the public’s assistance in providing any information relating to this theft, specifically any CCTV, dash cam from the area or witnesses that may have observed the incident,” said officer Mansoor Sahak. “Someone may have observed this incident, not realizing that a theft was occurring.

Police urged the public to contact the North Vancouver RCMP at 604-985-1311 and quote file #22-30678. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

Key Takeaways:

  • The plant will cease producing general use cement in favour of OneCem, a reduced carbon portland limestone cement.
  • It’s Lafarge’s third plant conversion this year.
  • Lafarge says OneCem creates 10 per cent less C02 emissions while maintaining performance and durability.

The Whole Story:

Lafarge Canada is continuing its march towards greener cement production. 

The company announced it has fully transformed its Brookfield Cement Plant’s cement production in Nova Scotia to a greener portfolio. From now on, the site’s production of general use cement (GU) ends and will shift to reduced carbon portland limestone cement – branded as OneCem – the company’s eco-efficient alternative. 

Brookfield is Lafarge’s third cement plant to be converted in 2022 and the first Atlantic Market plant to convert – the others being the Bath Cement Plant (Ontario) in June and the Richmond Cement Plant (B.C.) earlier this year.

OneCem is a sustainable product that presents up to 10 per cent lower CO2 emissions while providing the same performance and durability. 

“We have been steadily moving the needle forward when it comes to cement decarbonization and we will continue to honour our commitment in progressing our greener portfolio in Eastern Canada over the coming years,” said Andrew Stewart, vice president of cement for Lafarge Canada (East). “For us at Lafarge Canada, sustainability and profitability go together – our main goal is to keep partnering with our customers to advance sustainable construction and, at the same time, provide innovative world-class products.”

According to Robert Cumming, Head of Sustainability & Public Affairs, Lafarge Canada (East), the company has avoided more than 140,000 tonnes of CO2 in the past four years by converting GU cement to OneCem in its plants across Canada.

“We are excited to take our plant to the next level of decarbonization. Our teams on the ground have been successfully showcasing our company’s values of passion, collaboration, and grit, and we couldn’t be prouder. This is a very important milestone in our Net-Zero journey in Nova Scotia and in Canada as a whole,” said Travis Smith, Brookfield’s plant manager.

Larfage officials explained that OneCem contributes to lowering the industry’s carbon footprint not only during the manufacturing process – while cement may be as little as 11 per cent of a concrete mix, it can account for more than 80 per cent of all energy required to produce concrete. Across Canada, Lafarge has produced over 6 million metric tonnes of OneCem since 2011.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Quintette coal mine in northeastern B.C. has been sold to Conuma by Teck for $120M.
  • The mine has been on care and maintenance since 2000.
  • The coal produced by the mine is used to create steel.

The Whole Story:

A dormant B.C. mine site is getting a new lease on life. 

Teck Resources Limited announced that it has agreed to sell the Quintette steelmaking coal mine in northeastern British Columbia to a subsidiary of Conuma Resources Limited. Conuma will pay Teck $120 million in cash in staged payments over the next 36 months, and an ongoing 25 per cent net profits interest royalty, first payable after Conuma recovers its investment in Quintette.

Closing of the transaction, expected to occur in the first quarter of 2023, is subject to receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary conditions.

The steelmaking coal mine, which produced a semi-hard coking coal product, operated for nearly 18 years up until 2000 and has been on care and maintenance since then. Steelmaking coal is a vital ingredient in the production of steel, which is essential for low-carbon infrastructure such as rapid transit, transmission systems and wind turbines.

Founded in mid-2016, Conuma Resources is a steelmaking coal producer based in Northeast B.C. Conuma’s surface mine operations at Brule, Wolverine and Willow Creek have a rated capacity to produce more than 5 million tonnes of steelmaking coal annually, and provide more than 900 direct and 3,000 indirect jobs in the Peace River Regional District.

A rainbow arcs over a Conuma Resources truck in B.C. – Conuma Resources

Camosun College just received a massive funding boost to help aspiring B.C. tradeswomen. 

The college announced they have received a $1.285 million gift to help open the doors to more women pursuing a career in a range of Red Seal trades programs.

The donation comes from the Gwyn Morgan and Patricia Trottier Foundation. It is the second time the foundation has supported the Empowering Women in the Trades program and is a five-year commitment. It represents the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the college outside of estate gifts.

“The Empowering Woman in the Trades program has changed my life in such an incredible way, words can’t express the gratitude I have,” says Sarah Cooper, who completed the Women in Trades sampler in 2021 and who will soon be returning to the college for her next level apprenticeship. “I don’t know where my family and I would be there today without the ongoing mentorship and financial support that I’ve been given throughout my time at Camosun.”

In 2017, the Foundation made a $1,000,000 pledge to create program. Camosun officials said the second pledge will ensure the program will continue to grow and support women over the next five years. 

“We saw the tremendous impact the first gift had on the lives of women over the last five year and how it encouraged more women to enter trades so it made sense to do it again,” says Gwynn Morgan. “It is important to ensure the Empowering Women in the Trades program can continue to raise the quality of life for tradespeople and their families, as well as ensure employers and industries have a workforce to draw upon.”

Trades students at Camosun College receive instruction for working with metal. – Camosun College

School officials explained that government programs often assist with tuition costs but Empowering Women in Trades breaks down additional financial barriers facing women in the trades and assists with areas such as transportation, child care, living expenses and the cost of protection equipment and tools. The goal is to allow more women complete their Red Seal certification. While financial assistance is one barrier, Empowering Women in Trades also offers one on one support, networking, and mentoring opportunities as well as employment support. 

“Given the opportunity, a career in the trades can be life-altering for women, who unfortunately have historically faced obstacles,” says Patricia Trottier. “At a time when Canada is facing a skilled trades shortage impacting almost every industry and employer it is critical that women are given the chance to help close the skills gap and achieve their own personal and professional goals.”

As a result of the women-specific programs at Camosun, over 1,000 women have gone on to pursue a career in high-demand areas such as automotive, carpentry, professional cooking, sheet metal and welding. Some alumni have even come full circle by returning to Camosun to instruct the next generation of skilled trades people.

“Camosun is very proud of its work to improve access for students, particularly among underrepresented groups, and giving them the skills to thrive,” says Lane Trotter, president of Camosun. “The generous support of donors like the Gwyn Morgan and Patricia Trottier Foundation is making a life changing difference to women seeking to complete Red Seal apprenticeships. Thank you.”

Camosun offers apprenticeship training in 20 distinct trades, including 12 trades with the Interprovincial Red Seal Endorsement.

A drone shows the route of a major transit project in Metro Vancouver. – Broadway Subway Project

Take a good look at this 5.7 km route in Vancouver. It’s about to completely transform. 

A drone flew the The Broadway Subway Project alignment, offering a sweeping overview of what’s to come. 

The Broadway Subway Project, led by joint venture between ACCIONA and Ghella, will extend the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark Station to the future Broadway and Arbutus station, providing SkyTrain service along the Broadway corridor, home to B.C.’s second-largest jobs centre, world-class health-care services, an emerging innovation and research hub, and growing residential communities.

The project team recently launched the second of two state-of-the-art Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) November 29. Named Phyllis, after B.C. mountaineer Phyllis Munday, she will join Elsie, the first TBM, which was launched on Oct. 7 and is now well on her way to her first breakthrough at Mount Pleasant Station.

Each TBM will take about one year to carve out two five-kilometre-long tunnels before being dismantled and removed at Cypress Street near the future Arbutus Station. After tunneling is complete, work can begin on building tracks within the tunnels and finishing the six new stations along the route. Once in service, the Broadway Subway Project will create a seamless extension of the existing Millennium Line from VCC-Clark to Arbutus Street.

Planned construction activities for the next three months include:

  • About three quarters of the 21 columns on the elevated guideway between VCC-Clark Station and the future Great Northern Way-Emily Carr station are complete. Construction continuing on remaining columns.
  • Both TBMs, Phyllis and Elsie have been launched. Continuing to remove excavated material from both tunnels and installing remaining trailing gear on Phyllis at Great Northern Way-Emily Carr Station.
  • Completing the concrete base slab for the future Mount Pleasant Station.
  • Excavating the Broadway-City Hall, Oak-VGH, South Granville and Arbutus stations.
  • Completing the traffic decks for the Broadway-City Hall and Arbutus stations.
  • Finishing the relocation of major utilities at the Broadway-City Hall and Arbutus work sites.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Cat MineStart Command for Hauling system will be implemented on 77G trucks at the Bull Run Plant in Virginia.
  • It is Caterpillar’s first deployment of the technology in the aggregate sector.
  • The company said data collected from the site will help it better tune its technology for future aggregate applications.

The Whole Story:

Caterpillar Inc. is looking to push vehicle automation forward with a new collaboration in the aggregate sector. 

The heavy equipment supplier is working with Luck Stone, America’s largest family-owned and operated producer of crushed stone, sand and gravel, to deploy its autonomous solution to the Bull Run Plant in Chantilly, Virginia. It will be Caterpillar’s first autonomous deployment in the aggregates industry and will expand the company’s autonomous truck fleet to include the 100-ton-class (90-tonne-class) Cat 777 .

Looking to accelerate autonomous solutions beyond mining, Caterpillar will implement its existing Cat MineStar Command for Hauling system at the Bull Run quarry, on a fleet of 777G trucks. Caterpillar officials say this will help it gain greater insights on quarry operations in order to tailor the next generation of autonomous solutions specific to quarry and aggregate applications.

The company added that the project will support the acceleration of autonomous technology for operations with fewer mobile assets, making projects safer and more productive. 

The Bull Run Plant sits in Chantilly, Virginia. It mines a type of rock known as Traprock or diabase. – Caterpillar

“Luck Stone and Caterpillar’s partnership has been grounded in shared values for many years,” said Charlie Luck, president and CEO of Luck Companies. “Together we believe that safety, innovation and a commitment to people are critical, not only to propelling important projects like this, but to ensuring our focus on the future and all of the exciting possibilities technology affords our industry. Our collaboration will provide opportunities for associates to learn and grow, improve safety and result in production efficiencies. We are thrilled to partner with Caterpillar to achieve this ‘first’ for our industry.”

The current autonomy solutions will be implemented in 2024. Caterpillar currently boasts the world’s largest fleet of autonomous haul trucks, now numbering more than 560 trucks. These trucks have traveled more than 187 million kilometers and autonomously moved more than 5.1 billion tonnes without a single zero lost-time injury.

“Caterpillar has a long-standing relationship with Luck Stone, and we look forward to working together to bring the demonstrated benefits of increased safety and productivity to the quarry industry. We’re excited to get in the dirt and work alongside Luck Stone’s innovative team, so we can learn how to scale our already proven mining solution for another industry,” said Denise Johnson, Caterpillar Group president of resource Industries.

ACCIONA Canada took to the skies to celebrate 20 years of sustainable infrastructure construction in Canada. 

The company partnered with reforestation startup Flash Forest to plant 20,000 trees in B.C. using drones.

Planting from above

By leveraging drone, AI, GIS, and plant science technology, Flash Forest planted Douglas-fir, Hybrid Spruce, Western Larch and Lodgepole Pine in natural disaster-affected areas of the province.

“Having a direct positive impact on the environment we are building within is part and parcel with our Sustainability Master Plan 2025 (SMP 2025),” said Caroline Miwa, director of quality, health and safety, environmental and sustainability for ACCIONA North America. “ACCIONA is building some of B.C.’s largest transportation and clean energy projects, and so the project with Flash Forest in B.C. was intentional and meaningful.” 

ACCIONA has published a five-year SMP since 2010, and it continues its roadmap for every business action worldwide.

“Our sustainability strategy has evolved and strengthened with each edition of the SMP,” said Miwa. “The 2015 edition was focused on measuring key performance Indicators, 2020 aimed to integrate and engage all stakeholders to align our sustainability approach, and 2025 goes a step further to not only minimize our footprint, but to make a positive impact.”

Miwa noted that “Planet Positive” is one of the four pillars underpinning SMP 2025 and supporting the regeneration of impacted forests in B.C. contributes to its global organizational goal of planting and monitoring the growth of one million trees within five years.

She also reflected on the ACCIONA’S long history of infrastructure. 

Flash Forest

20 years building Canadian infrastructure

“ACCIONA Infrastructure entered the Canadian market 20 years ago with one of the country’s most iconic hydraulic projects to-date, the Deep Lake Water Cooling System in Toronto,” she said. “The system draws cold water from the bed of Lake Ontario and uses it to cool downtown Toronto office towers – a sustainable alternative to conventional air cooling. The system is still in use today.”

Miwa said that since the start of the 2000s, ACCIONA has continued to deliver sustainable infrastructure solutions that have a positive impact on the community and environment, from the Saint John Safe Clean Drinking Water Project in New Brunswick which supplies 75 million liters of safe drinking water to the community every day, to the award-winning Royal Jubilee Hospital Patient Care Centre in Victoria, B.C., to the Broadway Subway Project currently under construction in Vancouver that will take cars off the road and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

More than building projects

She added that ACCIONA’s sustainability efforts aren’t just limited to projects. 

“It is important to remember that sustainability also encompasses community engagement,” said Miwa. “The ACCIONA joint venture delivering the Site C Clean Energy Project in Fort St. John, B.C. founded a Community Investment Program in 2016 that has since donated $375,000 to the North Peace Community Foundation in support of local charities. What’s more, 100 per cent of the donation was generated by our onsite recycling program.”

Miwa added that for ACCIONA, sustainability also means diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I).

“‘People Centric’ is another pillar of our SMP 2025, under which ACCIONA aims to increase the percentage of women in middle and senior management positions every year – across all business lines globally,” she said. “In Canada, we are continuously improving the percentage of women in these positions and are proud that women make up almost 30 per cent of the North America leadership team.”

She added that safe, clean water has also been a major focus of ACCIONA’s efforts. 

On one of its major transportation projects in B.C., tunnel water treatment plants are operated onsite to treat water resulting from tunnelling activities. Treated water is then discharged into sanitary sewage according to the specifications of the city of Vancouver.

Assisted by technology

Advances in technology are helping ACCIONA’s work on the “People Centric” pillar of the SMP 2025 by creating safer job sites and decreasing harmful emissions. They are using drones on site to assist with survey works, which eliminates hazards that our team might otherwise be exposed to. The company is working to electrify its fleet and is even investigating the use of hydro-treated vegetable oil bio-fuel across its operations.

Miwa explained that sustainability should be a concern for everyone in the industry. 

“It is well known that the construction industry is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions,” she said. “As contractors, we are in a unique position to educate and influence sustainable decision-making both upstream to clients and peak bodies, and downstream to the supply chain. The industry – at every level – needs to move faster to execute infrastructure that will help restore social and environmental balance and regenerate the planet.”

Key Takeaways:

  • CDPQ is investing $150 million in Pomerleau on top of $50 million it invested in 2018. 
  • The firm’s investments helped Pomerleau acquire residential builder ITC Construction Group earlier this year. 
  • Pomerleau says it plans to use the acquisition and investments to expand its residential offerings across Canada. 

The Whole Story:

Pomerleau is getting a massive new investment from one of its strategic partners as it looks to expand.

CDPQ announced it will invest an additional $150 million in Pomerleau to accelerates its growth in Canada. The global investment group’s support played a significant role in Pomerleau’s acquisition of Vancouver-based residential builder ITC Construction Group earlier this year. 

“We are proud that the CDPQ is extending its commitment to our 4,000 people, our values and our growth strategy,” said Pierre Pomerleau, Pomerleau president and CEO. “CDPQ is an outstanding partner and shareholder, and we are delighted that this renewed confidence can support the deployment of our strategic plan.”

CDPQ officials noted that so far their investment strategy has paid off big. The firm invested $50 million into Pomerleau in 2018. Since then, the construction company has more than doubled its revenues from $1.8 billion to $4 billion, and more than tripled its order backlog from $3.5 billion to $11 billion. Founded 60 years ago in the Beauce region of Québec, Pomerleau’s Canadian projects outside of Quebec now account for almost 50 per cent of its revenues.

“CDPQ is proud to have been at the company’s side during this expansion and looks forward to continuing our commitment to support the execution of the company’s strategic development plan,” said Kim Thomassin, executive vice-president and head of Québec at CDPQ. “In addition to fostering the organization’s expansion across Canada with the ITC Construction Group acquisition, this investment is aligned with our desire to develop more sustainable living environments, and Pomerleau continues to play a major role in that regard.”

The acquisition of ITC was the largest in Pomerleau’s history. The company says it plans to use it to provide sustainable and innovative housing solutions across the country. ITC has 200 residential projects worth more than 5 billion dollars under its belt in B.C. and Alberta, and 18 major residential projects underway.

“Over time, Pomerleau has become more than a construction company,” said Pomerleau. “Today, it structures alternative and collaborative models of delivery and financing. This allows us to tackle a wide range of increasingly complex projects – from hospitals to industrial facilities, wind farms and light-rail transit. We are also proud to offer much-needed solutions to Canadians, including low-carbon buildings as well as public transit and renewable energy infrastructure that help tackle climate change and improve the quality of life.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Last year more than 2,800 people died in Ontario from opioid-related causes.
  • 30 per cent of these deaths were construction workers.
  • The province will require naloxone kits for at-risk workplaces starting June 1, 2023.

The Whole Story:

Ontario wants to reduce drug overdose deaths by requiring naloxone kits at “high risk” workplaces. 

The new government program will encourage compliance by first making naloxone kits and training available for free at workplaces where there is a risk of staff witnessing or experiencing an opioid overdose.

In 2021, 2,819 people died from opioid-related causes in Ontario – the highest number on record and up from 366 in 2003. Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose, restore breathing within two to five minutes, and allow time for medical help to arrive.

Of the workers who died from opioid-related causes last year, 30 per cent were employed in construction – by far the most impacted industry. Bars and nightclubs have also seen increased opioid usage and accidental overdoses, often because of recreational drugs laced with deadly opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil.

“Ontario, like the rest of Canada, is in the middle of an opioid epidemic made worse by a toxic supply of recreational street drugs,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development. “That’s why our government is the first in North America to require naloxone kits be accessible in at-risk workplaces by June 1, 2023, to raise awareness for those struggling with addition, reduce stigma and save lives.”

For up to two years, Ontario will provide free nasal spray naloxone kits to businesses at risk of opioid overdoses through the Workplace Naloxone Program and free training needed to equip staff with the tools to respond to an opioid overdose.

Businesses can determine if they are eligible for the program and find additional information on accessing naloxone kits and training at Ontario.ca/workplacenaloxone. Once the requirement is in effect, government inspectors plan to take an education-first approach to enforcement.

According to Health Canada, these are some common symptoms of someone who is having an overdose:

  • Difficulty walking, talking, staying awake.
  • Blue or grey lips or nails.
  • Cold and clammy skin.
  • Dizziness and confusion.
  • Extreme drowsiness.
  • Choking, gurgling or snoring sounds.
  • Slow, weak or non-existent breathing.
  • Inability to wake up, despite being shaken or shouted at.

The future of technology and energy requires critical minerals and Canada has released its plan to secure them.

This month, the federal government released the Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy, a plan to establish and maintain resilient critical minerals value chains that adhere to the high ESG standards. 

“There is no energy transition without critical minerals: no batteries, no electric cars, no wind turbines and no solar panels,” wrote Jonathan Wilkinson, minister of natural resources. “The sun provides raw energy, but electricity flows through copper. Wind turbines need manganese, platinum and rare earth magnets. Nuclear power requires uranium. Electric vehicles require batteries made with lithium, cobalt and nickel and magnets. Indium and tellurium are integral to solar panel manufacturing.”

Canada is also in a unique global position. It is home to almost half of the world’s publicly listed mining and mineral exploration companies, with a presence in more than 100 countries and a combined market capitalization of $520 billion.

The strategy, backed by nearly $4 billion in Budget 2022, envisions Canada as a global supplier of choice for critical minerals.

But what does the strategy mean for builders? Here are five major takeaways:

1. We have to get better at finding minerals

Locating critical minerals in Canada’s vast landmass is a complex endeavor. It requires advanced geoscience capabilities, including geological mapping, geophysical surveying, and scientific assessments and data.

Ottawa plans to spend $79.2 million for public geoscience and exploration to better identify and assess mineral deposits. They also want to offer a 30 per cent Critical Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for targeted critical minerals. $47.7 million will be spent on targeted upstream critical mineral R&D through Canada’s research labs and $144.4 million will go towards critical mineral research and development, and the deployment of technologies and materials to support critical mineral development for upstream and midstream segments of the value chain.

2. Projects need to speed up

It takes anywhere from 5 to 25 years for a mining project to become operational, with no revenue until production starts. The federal government says that’s not good enough so they are looking to accelerate the development of strategic projects.

Ottawa is pouring $1.5 billion into the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), one of the most significant direct funding mechanisms in the entire strategy. Officials say the SIF will help build world-class critical mineral value chains in which prefabrication and manufacturing activities are done domestically by default. It will support projects that decrease or remove reliance on foreign critical mineral inputs across a range of priority industrial sectors or technologies. SIF investments will favour critical mineral development opportunities that aim to reduce GHG emissions in critical mineral and manufacturing sectors.

Officials also plan to spend $21.5 million to support the Critical Minerals Centre of Excellence (CMCE) to develop federal policies and programs on critical minerals and to assist project developers in navigating regulatory processes and federal support measures.

A map shows areas of potential mineral project development. – Government of Canada

3. Sites need to be accessible and supported

Critical mineral deposits are often located in remote areas with challenging terrain and limited access to enabling infrastructure such as roads or grid connectivity. Officials say the cost implications of this infrastructure deficit discourage investment and hinder the socio-economic development of local communities that welcome mineral development. It also increases the risks associated with economic and logistical feasibility, particularly with rising inflationary pressures and challenges in global supply chains.

Ottawa is proposing $1.5 billion for infrastructure development for critical mineral supply chains, with a focus on priority deposits. They also want to make strategic infrastructure investments in green energy and transportation to unlock critical mineral regions, while also improving environmental performance and driving emissions reductions in existing operations through electrification.

4. A lot more workers are needed

Mining experts anticipate that up to 113,000 new workers will be needed by 2030 to meet new demand and replace those workers anticipated to exit the mining workforce. Sound familiar?

The strategy aims to continue supporting a plethora of existing programs that target diverse groups, including: Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program, the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program, and the Skills and Partnership Fund, Canada Summer Jobs, Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.

Officials are also looking for partnership opportunities with provinces and territories, Indigenous-led organizations, and several stakeholders, including universities, colleges, and specialized training institutions, to create greater awareness and understanding of the minerals and metals sector, sometimes referred to as mineral literacy. These partnerships would encourage enrolment in mining curriculum, skilled trades, and by socializing the role critical minerals play in the green energy transition and showcasing the diversity of careers available in the sector.

A diagram show all the minerals Canada has identified as “critical”. – Government of Canada

5. Indigenous people must be included

Indigenous peoples are the stewards, rights holders, and in many cases, title holders to the land upon which mineral resources are located. Historically, Indigenous peoples have not always benefited from natural resource development on their traditional territories, and some developments have caused adverse environmental and social impacts on communities.

But federal officials say that in the past few decades, Indigenous participation in the mining sector has grown significantly.

Ottawa is allocating $103.4 million to advance economic reconciliation through enhanced readiness to meaningfully participate in the natural resource sector, including at least $25 million to support Indigenous participation and early engagement in the strategy. Funding is available through the Indigenous Natural Resource Partnerships Program, which funds activities that help increase the economic participation of Indigenous peoples in natural resource projects. The Program is accessible to Indigenous communities, businesses, and organizations.