Oil sands group launches gateway to connect with industry

Key Takeaways:

  • Oil sands companies have launched an online portal to better connect with more diverse businesses.
  • ROA Supplier Gateway will allow businesses from across Canada to register and gain access to opportunities with its participating partners.
  • Partners include Suncor Energy, Cenovus Energy, ConocoPhillips
    , and Imperial Oil.

The Whole Story:

Regional Oil Sands Operating Alliance (ROA) has announced the launch of its industry focused business portal, ROA Supplier Gateway, that will help connect industry suppliers with leading producers in the Alberta Oil Sands Region.

ROA Supplier Gateway will allow businesses from across Canada to register and gain access to opportunities with its participating partners: Suncor Energy, Cenovus Energy, ConocoPhillips Canada, and Imperial Oil. The ROA Supplier Gateway aims to play a pivotal role in fostering opportunity, valuable collaborations, innovation, and supplier inclusion.

“We are proud to offer a new innovative portal for the business community as a way to connect suppliers to our participating producers and reduce barriers of entry including access to relevant industry information, a list of available opportunities, and direct support through our help centre,” said Mark Morrison, chair Regional Oil Sands Operating Alliance. “ROA Supplier Gateway will focus on collaboration, building capability, and increasing exposure for small and medium businesses.”

ROA Supplier Gateway features include a personalized dashboard for all registered businesses, a resource library, an event listing, a business spotlight section and more. All businesses operating within Canada that are interested in gaining access to new opportunities within the Alberta Oil Sands Region with participating partners are invited to register.

“ROA Supplier Gateway is a key resource that’ll increase the ability of businesses within the Oil Sands industry, like Suncor, to connect with a more diverse set of suppliers,” said Steve Hogan, senior vice president, supply chain & field logistics, Suncor Energy. “I believe the efficiency and transparency inherent to the portal will drive innovation and expansion among our supplier base and will ultimately create a more competitive landscape throughout the Oil Sands.”

SiteNews is proud to announce Construction’s Most Influential People, a new awards program that will honour outstanding individuals who are impacting the construction sector. 

The annual program will shine a spotlight on Canadians having a massive positive impact on the built environment and the construction process. They are thought leaders, innovators, wizened veterans, young disruptors, politicians, legal masters, inventors, trades advocates and more. 

Why it matters

The SiteNews team noted that they want to cast a wide net to capture exceptional individuals that might be getting missed by other awards. 

“Most Influential will be open to all ages, all disciplines and all regions of the country,” said Russell Hixson, SiteNews editor.  “We want to leave no stone unturned when it comes to celebrating the men and women who are pushing construction forward.”

The SiteNews team explained that there are so many different roles and responsibilities that go into getting a project built, that there should be a holistic program to recognizing excellence. These roles include tradespeople, supervisors, educators, lawyers, engineers, financial experts, investors, technologists, developers, architects, researchers, politicians and more. 

How will winners be chosen 

The criteria and process are simple. Winners will be those in any industry, position or discipline whose efforts are generating a positive impact on the construction sector. SiteNews will be soliciting nominations from the industry and winners will be chosen by a panel of SiteNews staff.

This includes SiteNews co-founders Andrew Hansen and Brett Rutledge, and Hixson, who have spent their careers saturated in the construction sector in a wide range of roles. The team noted that they plan to build on the success of SiteNews’ 25 Innovators in Construction awards program, which recognized companies, by zooming in on individuals. 

Coming together 

Encouraged by their 25 Innovators in Construction awards event that maxed out capacity in Vancouver earlier this year, the SiteNews team is planning to take its in-person events one step further by hosting a celebration for Most Influential winners. More details will be released on this in the coming months. 

To nominate someone you think is deserving, fill out this form. Winners will be announced early next year.

Key Takeaways:

  • Dow says it chose Alberta for its highly cost-competitive natural gas, cost-advantaged ethane and government subsidies/incentives.
  • Linde will be the industrial gas partner for the supply of clean hydrogen and nitrogen for the site, and Fluor was selected for front-end engineering and design. Additionally, Dow is partnering with Wolf Midstream, which will provide CO2 transportation along the Alberta trunk line.
  • Construction is expected to start next year with the first phase coming online in 2027.

The Whole Story:

Dow is moving ahead with an $8.8 billion petrochemical complex in Alberta. 

It will create world’s first net-zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions ethylene and derivatives complex in  Fort Saskatchewan 

The Fort Saskatchewan Path2Zero project includes building a new ethylene cracker and increasing polyethylene capacity by 2 million MTA as well as retrofitting the site’s existing cracker to net-zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions. The investment is expected to deliver $1 billion of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) growth per year at full run rates over the economic cycle while decarbonizing 20% of Dow’s global ethylene capacity.

Dow says the new capacity will enable it to capture growing customer demand in high-value markets, such as packaging, infrastructure and hygiene, among others, with potential additional value captured from commercializing low and zero-emissions products. 

The project serves as a leading example that industrial decarbonization is both possible and profitable.

Jim Fitterling, Dow chair and CEO

Now that the company’s board has give the project its approval, Dow expects construction to begin in 2024. Capacity additions are expected to come online in phases, with the first phase starting up in 2027, adding approximately 1,285 KTAiv of ethylene and polyethylene capacity, and the second phase starting up in 2029, adding an additional approximately 600 KTA of capacity.

To achieve net-zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions, the Fort Saskatchewan Path2Zero project will deploy Linde’s air separation and autothermal reformer technology to convert the site’s cracker off-gas to hydrogen, which will be used as a clean fuel to supply the site’s furnaces. In addition, carbon dioxide emissions will be captured and stored, reducing existing emissions by approximately 1 million MTA of CO2e while abating all emissions from the addition of the site’s new capacity.

Dow says it chose Fort Saskatchewan because they believe the region offers highly cost-competitive natural gas relative to other regions, as well as cost-advantaged ethane, a key feedstock for ethylene production. At full run-rates, the site is expected to be one of Dow’s most cost-competitive in the world. The region also features access to existing CO2 transportation and storage infrastructure with available capacity to fully support decarbonization of the project. 

Additionally, the governments of Canada, Alberta, and Fort Saskatchewan have made subsidies and incentives available to support the project and to drive innovation in low-emissions manufacturing in Canada. It will be the first project to access Canada’s new investment tax credit (ITC) program for clean technology.

Dow’s investment leverages approximately $2 billion of investment from third-party companies for circular hydrogen, CO2 capture, and other infrastructure assets critical to the project execution. Earlier this year, Dow announced that Linde had been selected as its industrial gas partner for the supply of clean hydrogen and nitrogen for the site, and Fluor was selected for front-end engineering and design. Additionally, Dow is partnering with Wolf Midstream, which will provide CO2 transportation along the Alberta trunk line, and with Ravago which will provide third-party logistics for finished products from the site.

Key Takeaways:

  • $2.34 billion of highway improvement work is underway from the Fraser Valley to the Sumas Prairie.
  • It is Phase 3A of the Province’s Fraser Valley Highway 1 Corridor Improvement Program, a multi-phase program to improve goods movement and travel along Highway 1 in the Fraser Valley through the Sumas Prairie to Chilliwack.
  • Two more tenders are on track for release, including a new interchange at 232nd Street and highway widening for HOV lanes, along with a replacement to the existing CP Rail overhead.   

The Whole Story:

The next phase of multi-billion dollar Highway 1 expansion project has begun. 

The project will expand Highway 1 through the Fraser Valley to the Sumas Prairie.

Officials say the work will relieve traffic congestion and accommodate more sustainable transportation options in the region.

Accelerated advance work along the Highway 1 median east of 264th Street has begun, with work delivered by local companies including Kwantlen First Nation. People travelling Highway 1 will see crews in the median undertaking utility relocation, median soil removal, tree clearing and preloading of soil. This work will prepare the area between 264th Street and Mt. Lehman Road for the addition of high occupancy vehicle (HOV)/electric vehicle lanes and other multi-modal upgrades.

“The Fraser Valley is growing fast and we are building infrastructure that people need,” said Rob Fleming, minister of transportation and infrastructure. “People need to be able to get to work and back home without facing gridlock. We’re taking action to relieve congestion for drivers, to make goods movement more efficient and to accommodate more sustainable transportation options.”

The widening of Highway 1 between 264th Street and Mt. Lehman Road has an approved budget of $2.34 billion. This is Phase 3A of the Province’s Fraser Valley Highway 1 Corridor Improvement Program, a multi-phase program to improve goods movement and travel along Highway 1 in the Fraser Valley through the Sumas Prairie to Chilliwack.

The centrepiece of Phase 3A will be a new 264th Street Interchange, reconfigured to better serve road users. Officials say the 264th Street area is highly travelled during morning and afternoon hours, including a high volume of commercial vehicles heading to and from the border crossing. Along with more efficient goods movement, the new interchange will include improvements for active transportation, truck parking and public transit. The new interchange is in procurement, with construction expected to begin in 2024.

The 264th Street Interchange and associated highway widening is one of the three major construction contracts that make up Phase 3A. The other contracts will be upgrades to the Mt. Lehman Interchange and 3.7 kilometres of highway widening, and replacement of the Bradner Road overpass with 3.9 kilometres of highway widening. These contracts will go to tender in 2024. Completion of Phase 3A is expected in 2029.

Work is underway on Phase 2 between 216th and 264th streets, with a new Glover Road overpass currently under construction and completion expected in summer 2024. 

Two more tenders are on track for release, including a new interchange at 232nd Street and highway widening for HOV lanes, along with a replacement to the existing CP Rail overhead.   

Further east along Highway 1 between Mt. Lehman Road and Highway 11, advanced site-preparation work is planned for early 2024 ahead of construction on that phase of the program.

The scope of the program has expanded and a fourth phase extends through the Sumas Prairie into Chilliwack. Officials explained that this future phase of the Fraser Valley Highway 1 Improvement Program through the Sumas Prairie will address the need for improvements to infrastructure to make it more resilient to changing climate.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has committed $30 million to an integrated planning study, which is happening in parallel with flood-mitigation strategy planning work. This study will identify potential future improvements along the Trans-Canada Highway corridor between the Sumas Prairie and Chilliwack.


Ghella crews lift part of a tunnel boring machine at the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension project.


Asphalt placement has officially begun at 990 Taylor Avenue in Winnipeg, marking a significant milestone in the construction of Shindico‘s flex building at Grant Park Pavilions.


AECOM celebrated the start of passenger service on the $1.8 billion Valley Line Southeast Light Rail Transit line. AECOM served as lead of the owner’s engineer team.


The JEN COL crew is hard at work on the initial phases of the new Fort McMurray 468 First Nation’s Nikinan Community Building, making the most of the sunny weather on the site shores of Greoire Lake in Fort McMurray, Alta.

Axiom Builders

Crews celebrate the structural completion of Building 1B at RC at CF Richmond Centre. So far, the Axiom team has excavated a total of 300,000m3 of dirt and installed 16,500 metric tonnes of rebar.

Drew Monnier / Graham

Crews work on the Portage la Prairie Bypass project. Traffic driving is now driving in all directions after 18 months of work.  Graham said it worked closely with Meseyton Construction Ltd., many other key trade partners, Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure (MTI) and Dillon Consulting Limited


Eddie Duff, a veteran operator with John Aarts Group in Ontario, loads a concrete plant with Teleo‘s remotely-operated heavy machine technology, a first for the concrete industry.

Emil Anderson Construction

Emil Anderson Construction crews are getting treated to fall colours at the Jaffray Overhead project. The team the midst of installing two new bridges just outside of Jaffray, B.C.


Chandos crews have unearthed hundreds of fossils during excavation work for cables and piping in Edmonton, Alta. They include evidence of dinosaurs, prehistoric plants, extinct horses, bison, and elk. Chandos worked with their archaeology partners, Aeon Paleo, to safely remove the remains so its team could continue work.

Third Space Properties

Little ones help break ground for a Third Space Properties project.

Dee Durant

Apprentice electrician Dee Durant enjoys a sunset from her jobsite in Oakville, Ont.

Jacob Bros

A Jacob Bros worker lifts a piece of pipe for the Gilbert Trunk Sewer – Phase 2 South Project in Richmond B.C.

DSM Excavation and Contracting

Bright lights, big trucks and falling rain make a great combo. DSM Excavation and Contracting announced plans to to expand its trucking division with some epic evening vehicle shots.

The shot of the month goes to…

BC Hydro

Crews use a 550-tonne crane to install three transmission towers on the intakes at the Site C Dam in B.C. Eleven towers and three new transmission lines will send electricity generated inside the powerhouse to the nearby substation. The three-layered background of white sky, grey water and brown earth is beautiful. The orange-clad workers in the foreground pop against it, suspended in the sky. Truly an epic shot!

Vanessa Werden is a partner at construction law firm Jenkins Marzban Logan LLP. Named one of the Top 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction in 2020, she is licensed to practice in B.C., Alberta, the Northwest Territories, and Ontario. Earlier this year she was ranked by Lexpert as one of two “Leading Lawyers to Watch” in Construction Law in BC, and one of five “Lawyers to Watch” in Infrastructure Law in Canada.

On November 10, 2023, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its ruling in a case called R. v. Greater Sudbury (City). The case arises from a fatal accident and concerns the proper interpretation of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “Ontario Act”).

In September 2015, a pedestrian was struck and killed in Sudbury, Ontario, by an employee of Interpaving Limited who was driving a road grader in reverse, through an intersection. The City of Sudbury had contracted with Interpaving Limited to act as a constructor to repair a downtown water main. Contrary to a provincial regulation, no fence was placed between the construction project workplace and the public intersection and no signaller was assisting the Interpaving worker. In separate proceedings, Interpaving was convicted of breaching its duty as an employer under section 25(1)(c) of the Act to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed in the applicable regulation were carried out on the project site.

The issue before the Supreme Court of Canada was whether the City was liable as an “employer” for breaching the same duty. Section 1(1) of the Ontario Act defines an employer as “a person who employs or contracts for the services of one or more workers”. The City denied that it was an employer because it lacked control of the repair work and had delegated control to Interpaving.

The Supreme Court of Canada held that the City was liable as an employer for breaching its obligations under section 25(1)(c) of the Ontario Act. The Court determined that nothing in the text, context or purpose of the Ontario Act requires the Ministry to establish control over the workers or workplace to prove that the City breached its obligations as an employer. In its reasons, the Court confirmed the following in respect of the application of the Ontario Act:

  • Where an owner who contracts for the services of a constructor on a construction project is prosecuted for a breach of s. 25(1)(c), a court must first consider whether the Ministry has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Act applied to the accused because the accused was an employer under s. 1(1) of the Act. An owner is an employer if it employed workers at a workplace where an alleged breach of s. 25(1)(c) occurred, or contracted for the services of a worker at that workplace (including for the services of a constructor). The Ministry is not required to prove that the owner had control over the workplace or the workers there. It is clear from the text of the definition of employer that control is not an element that the Ministry must prove to establish that an accused is subject to the duties of an employer.

[Emphasis added]

The commentary by construction lawyers in Ontario has been in the nature of concern, calls for legislative reform, and even panic. Much of the concern about the Court’s reasoning is a lack of clarity on what will or will not constitute a sustainable due diligence defence on the part of an owner. The Court stated that in the construction context, it may be open to a judge to find that the owner took every reasonable precaution because the owner decided to delegate control of the project and responsibility for workplace safety to a more experienced constructor. Relevant considerations might include whether the owner pre-screened the constructor before hiring the constructor to ascertain, for example, whether the constructor has superior expertise, a track record free of prior convictions, and the capacity to ensure compliance. An owner may argue that its relative inexperience with workplace safety was why it chose to delegate control over a project to a more sophisticated constructor.

In British Columbia, occupational health and safety is regulated by the Workers Compensation Act (the “BC Act”) and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. In the BC Act, employer is defined to include, “every person having in their service under a contract of hiring or apprenticeship, whether the contract is written or oral, express or implied, a person engaged in work in or about an industry.”

In BC, the concept that a project owner could be deemed by WorkSafeBC to be an employer is not new. However, owners who have been found liable under the BC Act are not necessarily forced to pay, as WorkSafeBC has discretion to relieve an employer from liability if satisfied that the default was excusable. Similar to the due diligence defences suggested by the Supreme Court, there are defences available to project owners in BC who have taken reasonable and appropriate steps to delegate authority for health and safety to a contractor.

Where an owner has engaged a contractor to do work at its property, they should always seek a clearance letter from WorkSafeBC to avoid potential exposure to premium payments. Even when owners have retained an independent contractor, it is important that they do their due diligence to ensure that the contractor is in good standing with WorkSafeBC. Owners who fail to do so can become jointly liable with the contractor for unpaid WorkSafeBC insurance premiums. Owners can confirm a contractor’s status by getting a clearance letter from WorkSafeBC.

Finally, consider that most forms of CCDC contract provide that the contractor is responsible for construction safety. For example, General Condition 9.4.1 of the CCDC 2 provides:

  • 9.4.1 The Contractor shall be responsible for establishing, initiating, maintaining, and supervising all health and safety precautions and programs in connection with the performance of the Work in accordance with the applicable health and safety legislation.

This General Condition establishes that the contractor is solely responsible for construction safety at the project. That responsibility, however, may differ where the owner engages other contractors under separate contracts or employs own forces to perform work. The owner and its consultants also must abide by safety regulations at the site. There is nuance to workplace safety, and when in doubt, and particularly when deviating from the traditional general contracting delivery method, seek legal advice to ensure compliance and make sure you understand your obligations and exposure to risk and liability in the context of the selected contracting and project delivery model.

Key Takeaways:

  • SiteNews’ newsletter is expanding with another weekly email, Talent Thursdays.
  • It will feature popular topics around the ‘people’ part of construction, including professional updates, job postings, in-person events, labour data and more.
  • The SiteNews team believes Talent Thursdays will streamline its existing newsletter and provide valuable insight for subscribers.

The Whole Story:

One year after launch, SiteNews is expanding to better fulfill its mission to equip, educate and elevate the Canadian construction sector.

To serve its thousands of newsletter subscribers and respond to industry trends, the digital publication’s team is launching a second newsletter blast, Talent Thursdays. The weekly email will spotlight everything to do with labour and professional development in construction.

It will feature weekly People Moves, which gives updates on hiring, promotions, retirements and awards. Subscribers will get data, studies and updates on the efforts to recruit, train and retain workers. It will also include Hot Jobs, a regular round-up of high-level construction job postings.

SiteNews stated that their own analytics show there is high demand for stories and content centered around people and their work. This includes job postings, personal achievements, in-person events and information on how to address the industry’s workforce challenges. 

With so much news and information coming out about Canadian construction, the team also wanted to make sure content is streamlined, focused and useful for subscribers.

“We’re really inspired by the sense of community we’ve encountered over the last year. The industry genuinely loves celebrating the people who bring these projects to life,” said Brett Rutledge, SiteNews co-founder.  “Construction isn’t just about buildings; it’s about the individuals and the relationships they form. This newsletter is a tribute to that human element.”

According to BuildForce Canada, overall hiring requirements in the industry are expected to exceed 299,000 by 2032 due to the retirement of approximately 245,000 workers (20% of the 2022 labour force) and growth in worker demand of more than 54,000. They are predicting a possible retirement-recruitment gap of more than 61,000 workers.

SiteNews editor Russell Hixson explained that getting enough skilled workers to meet construction demand has easily emerged as one of the industry’s biggest challenges. 

“It’s a complete misconception that anybody can walk onto a jobsite and do construction work. The complexity, size and performance requirements for the built environment are skyrocketing,” he said. “This requires sophisticated, skilled workers. These people take years and years to create and many workers with these skills are reaching retirement age.”

Hixson noted that as technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, prefabrication and more become adopted, jobsites will require workers with even broader technical skills. 

To subscribe to Talent Thursdays and SiteNews’ weekly flagship newsletter for free, visit  here

Key Takeaways:

  • It was the largest, most comprehensive mass timber fire testing in Canadian history.
  • The study suggests, even in the most severe instances, taller mass timber structures can provide a level of fire performance that is on par with similar concrete and steel-constructed buildings.
  • The testing was observed by more than 150 experts from across Canada.

The Whole Story:

Canadian researchers have been investigating mass timber fire performance in the nation’s largest and most comprehensive testing to date.

Their report shows engineered wood products, such as cross-laminated timber, offer good fire performance comparable to non-combustible materials.

Dubbed The Mass Timber Demonstration Fire Test Program, the national study looked at five scenarios using a two-storey, 334 square-metre mass timber structure.

Researchers say this makes it the nation’s largest and most comprehensive mass timber fire research ever. The study suggests, even in the most severe instances, taller mass timber structures can provide a level of fire performance that is on par with similar concrete and steel-constructed buildings.

“This new series of fire testing shows that taller wood buildings, including those with exposed timber, do achieve fire safety standards and provide good fire performance comparable to other building materials. They provide strong evidence to evolve the National Building Code,” said Marc Alam, senior manager, codes and Standards for Canadian Wood Council.

The testing was observed by more than 150 experts from across Canada. Fire officials, building regulators, insurance industry representatives, engineers, and architects, as well as wood industry professionals and National Research Council of Canada (NRC) fire research experts, witnessed the fire testing firsthand.

“These tests are giving municipalities, code officials, fire services and insurers a lot of good information — and it was really helpful that many of these folks were able to see the tests as they were conducted,” said Steven Craft a fire engineering expert and founding principal at CHM Fire Consultants Ltd., one of the firms contributing to the fire test design and analysis. “It is becoming clearer through this research that mass timber buildings can perform well and it isn’t going to be any more difficult to put out a fire in these buildings than in a steel or a concrete building, when built to best practice standards.” 

Experts gather to witness historic tests using mass timber in a variety of fire scenarios. – Mark Cooper, courtesy CWC

Testing scenarios included a fully furnished residential suite as a baseline, exposed mass timber in an occupied residence, fire at a construction site, a more severe construction site fire and fire in an occupied office made of mass timber. 

Officials say that in all five tests, the test mass timber structure allowed for full burn out of the fire, whether the scenario was during construction or for a finished structure, in the rare event of no fire sprinkler activation or fire service intervention, and the stairwell was not adversely affected in any test. The tests concluded in the summer of 2022 and the report written by NRC was recently released.

“Through all the [mass timber] fire research that we’ve done to date, and over the last 15 years, I believe the experts have a very good appreciation for how we can design mass timber buildings to be safe and fire resistant. And these tests are showing how to go taller and expose more wood in these buildings while staying fire-safe,” said Craft.

Researchers noted that test results also show how open plan workplaces with exposed mass timber —an increasingly popular trend in office design—can be fire safe.

“In the open office floor plan test, the fire quickly died down on its own, showing that once the fuel load is consumed by the fire—basically the furnishings—the fire decays,” said Craft. “As follow-ups to past tests with smaller compartments, this new research shows we get as good or better performance in an open office scenario.”

The project team noted that the testing could benefit B.C.’s efforts to be a global leader in mass timber. 

“I anticipate the province, and the broader industry in B.C., will benefit from this comprehensive fire testing as the information obtained continues to streamline the building code, helping us tackle climate change and boost the construction of more sustainable, affordable housing”, said Keyes.

The research initiative was supported by the NRC, Canadian Wood Council, and federal and provincial governments.

The Canadian Wood Council will be giving a presentation that highlights the fire tests and results on November 16 in Vancouver as part of the inaugural WoodWorks Summit. To register or learn more go to woodworkssummit.ca.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ledcor will twin 46 km of Highway 3 between the town of Taber and the hamlet of Burdett.
  • It is the first of eight phases to twin the route.
  • Construction will begin in spring 2024, with completion anticipated in 2025.

The Whole Story:

Ledcor has been awarded the first contract to begin twinning Highway 3. 

Highway 3 is a vital economic corridor and east-west link, and the first section of the highway being twinned sees approximately 3,900 vehicles per day. Through $179.7 million in provincial funding, this first phase will twin Highway 3 between the town of Taber and the hamlet of Burdett. The contract for the 46-kilometre project was awarded to Ledcor Highways Ltd.

“Highway 3 is a key economic corridor in southern Alberta between Saskatchewan and British Columbia, south of the Trans-Canada Highway. It is critical infrastructure for Alberta’s growing agri-business industry and will enhance tourism and improve safety in the region as well,” said Devin Dreeshen, minister of transportation and economic corridors

Pre-construction work, including acquiring the right of way and relocating utilities, is underway and is scheduled for completion this year. Construction will begin in spring 2024, with completion anticipated in 2025. The project is expected to support 755 jobs.

“I am excited to see this important project get underway. Twinning this stretch of Highway 3 is critical to supporting jobs, growth and the agri-food processing corridor in the region,” said Grant Hunter, MLA for Taber-Warner. “This project has been a priority of mine and I want to thank Minister Dreeshen for his commitment to twinning this vital east-west link.”

Twinning Highway 3 from border to border will be completed in eight phases to limit costs and minimize disruption to people and businesses along the route. The other seven sections of the project are in various phases, including consultation, planning and design, land acquisition, environmental assessment, engineering or contract tendering.

“This is great news for our association members and municipalities all along the agri-food corridor, in addition to all southern Albertans who will be ecstatic when dirt begins to move next spring,” said Bill Chapman, president, Highway 3 Twinning Development Association. “Our association extends our thanks to Premier Danielle Smith and Devin Dreeshen, minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors, for your commitment to this vital project.”

The eight phases of the project include:

  • Phase 1, 46 kilometres – twin Highway 3 between Taber and Burdett
  • Phase 2, 10 kilometres – Highway 3X/Coleman Bypass
  • Phase 3, 15 kilometres – east of Seven Persons to Medicine Hat
  • Phase 4, 47 kilometres – Blairmore to east of Highway 6 at Pincher Creek
  • Phase 5, 28 kilometres – east of Bow Island to east of Seven Persons
  • Phase 6, 23 kilometres – east of Burdett to east of Bow Island
  • Phase 7, 38 kilometres – Pincher Creek to west of Fort Macleod
  • Phase 8, eight kilometres – Alberta/B.C. border to Highway 3X

The rise of artificial intelligence technology has been astounding. Experts are calling it a transformative paradigm shift that has every industry pondering how it can be used and what its implications will be.

Canada could be a major player as these technologies develop. According to a recent report by Deloitte, Canada ranked first in the five-year average year-over-year growth rate in AI talent concentration compared to G7 nations.

The number of AI patents filed nationally across Canada rose by 27% in 2021-2022 with 158 patents, and 57% in 2022-2023 with 248 patents. This rate of increase puts Canada second among G7 nations in 2022-2023.

“Canada has become the springboard to advance AI-fueled enterprises around the globe. Our openness to newcomers, our highly skilled workforce, our banking stability with access to global markets, and our commitment to a standard of living that is second to none has allowed us to translate our ideas and curiosity into tangible solutions that address real-world challenges and opportunities,” said Anthony Viel, CEO of Deloitte Cannada. “Our future success depends on embracing an entrepreneurial, inclusive, and responsible culture that generates—and delivers on—these ideas for good.”

The economic impact could be huge. It’s predicted that AI could contribute as much as $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

Here are a handful of AI companies in Canada that have turned their attention to the construction sector.


What if you could predict the right project for the right market? The OpenHouse.ai Builder Intelligence Platform provides insight into a potential home buyer’s preferences and demands for home builders. The AI-powered solution bolts onto a home builder’s existing website to understand what a buyer is looking for in a home. The company says this data provides accurate insight into a builder’s local market, so they can optimize community planning and design, maintain an optimal mix of floor plans, and de-risk their inventory programs. The company recently partnered with Calgary homebuilder Trico Homes to leverage AI in their development process.


Qii’s AI drone inspection tools are being used by the Royal Canadian Navy to identify corrosion on ships. – Qii

The Qii.AI team originally set out to create a drone inspection company, but soon found the mountains of data they collected needed to be managed and organized so it could be useful to clients. In 2020, they rebranded as Qii.AI and launched an enterprise platform that combines drone inspection software with a cutting-edge computer vision labeling tool and machine learning. Qii.AI says their deep knowledge of drone operation and the industrial sector give them unique insight for clients. The Qii platform was recently chosen by the Royal Canadian Navy for use in its ship inspection program.


Augmenta recently rolled out its Electrical module Pilot Program. – Augmenta  

One of Augmenta‘s early design partners put it this way: “It’s like you’re providing each member of my VDC team with their own VDC team.” The Augmenta team is on a mission to automate building design for contractors and engineers. The company says its tools can create highly cost, labor, time and energy efficient designs that are fully code compliant, error-free and constructible One of the Toronto startup’s current offerings designs electrical raceways 70% faster than the traditional way of humans doing it manually on computers.

Mercator AI

Mercator goal is to leverage AI so builders can find new business opportunities faster. – Mercator AI

With clients like Chandos, DIRTT and Fillmore Construction, Calgary-based Mercator is making a name for itself in the Canadian market. Founded in 2020, Mercator AI says it can address a critical challenge for business development in construction – delayed project discovery. The company’s solution mines and analyzes millions of industry activities, transforming them into actionable opportunities. This helps clients identifies emerging projects, exposes competitive landscapes, and drives strategic business development with real-time data.

UBC’s Smart Structures Lab

The technology is able to detect when workers show up within a danger zone on site and halt work to prevent injury. – UBC Applied Science

Academia is also taking notice of AI’s potential in construction. Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have spent years developing AI-controlled robots that can analyze jobsites and perform construction activities. The school’s Faculty of Applied Science researchers recently demonstrated at a real site how their technology can transform construction vehicles — cranes, forklifts and excavators — into smart construction robots. The team said that they plan to continue testing their technology with builders in a variety of jobsite conditions.


Montreal-based AI development company Zetane Systems is working with Pomerleau to apply AI algorithms and neural networks to help accelerate, de-risk and improve estimating processes. Zetane was chosen for the project after Pomerleau issued a call for small tech companies to help them improve estimating with AI. In 2022, Pomerleau announced it would be extending its work with Zetane to apply AI to pre-construction planning.


Maket uses AI to speed up the design process. – Maket

Designing a home doesn’t require hours of work or in-depth knowledge of complex computer programs. Maket is an end to end solution that uses ground-breaking research in generative AI, natural language processing and deep learning to automate the creation of floorplans based on programming needs and environmental constraints. The company says this can optimize creativity and efficiency. Maket caught the eye of Techstars, a mentorship-driven business accelerator, in 2021

Mary Van Buren is leaving her role as president of the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) after six years in the position. Van Buren made history as the group’s first female president. She will be leaving the association in the spring. A search process is underway with a goal of a smooth transition and continuing the positive momentum gained under Van Buren’s leadership.

The construction industry is essential to Canada’s economic success and quality of life, yet it doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. I am so proud to have brought more attention to an industry that has such a profound impact on our country and affects positive change in our communities every day. 

Mary Van Buren, CCA president
Mary Van Buren

Al Norgaard, president and general manager of Norgaard Ready-Mix, announced he will be closing his the family business after after 60 years. The sand, gravel, specialty aggregates, precast product and ready-mix concrete provider was part of major B.C. projects, including  the Railyard Mall, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, the original Coquihalla Highway and the recent Coquihalla Highway rebuild.

the trucks at Norgaard Ready-Mix will pour their last loads of concrete on December 22, 2023 and the business will close on January 12, 2024. – Norgaard Ready-Mix

It is definitely with mixed emotions that we close the business, but it feels like the right time to move onto the next chapter and spend more time with my partner, kids and grandkids. It’s a hard choice for me to close the business, but we’re wrapping up work on the Coquihalla rebuild and it feels like the right time.

Al Norgaard, president and general manager, Norgaard Ready-Mix

David Howard been promoted to senior project superintendent after more than eight years at Bird Construction. The Metro Vancouver resident has more than 18 years of experience in site supervision.

Rick Welch has joined the Fort Modular team and Greg Tymchyna has been promoted. Welch has been hired as vice president of the permanent modular division. Tymchyna has been promoted to vice president of the rentals and fleets division.

Fort Modular has spent November raising funds for men’s health with its special Movember units. – Fort Modular

Nick Marini is stepping into a new consultative role as director of property management at Macdonald Property Management Group and Zora Chen is taking on overall management responsibilities at the company’s signature property management group. In his 23 years with the organization, Marini has worked to build a comprehensive third party property management and strata services business representing clients both locally and globally from around the world. Chen has been with Macdonald for nearly a decade and has become an accomplished property and strata management professional.

Sean Ruzicka has been promoted to Nch’ḵaỷ Development Corporation‘s executive vice president of business development and partnerships.

Sean’s leadership style — characterized by respect, constructiveness, and enthusiasm, and guided by our corporate objectives — is instrumental in nurturing and building valuable relationships with the Nation and our external partners.

Nch’ḵay̓ Development Corporation

Cheryl Schindler is MBC Group‘s new director of business development of engineering in B.C. Schindler brings with her 27 years of experience. Her past projects include work in institutional, commercial, residential, transportation, water/wastewater treatment, and industrial industries and she has been involved in major projects with budgets exceeding $5 billion in Canada and internationally.

Maddy Jamieson has been hired as the Vancouver Regional Construction Association‘s (VRCA) marketing and events specialist.

I’m beyond grateful to the team at VRCA for welcoming me as their new Marketing and Events Specialist. Can’t wait to discover all the opportunities ahead of me in this next phase of my career

Maddy Jamieson, VRCA marketing and events specialist

JP Gladu, a First Nations Major Projects Coalition (FNMPC) advisor and FNMPC Advisory Centre Board member, was named a Public Policy Forum 2024 Testimonial Dinner Award Honouree.

Whether forging connections between FNMPC members and the private sector, championing Indigenous economic inclusion in the Canadian economy, or instrumentalizing the 5% procurement precedent with the federal government, JP’s tireless efforts have indelibly shaped and uplifted Indigenous nations, leaving an enduring legacy that resonates throughout Canadian society.

First Nations Major Projects Coalition

Darcy Waters has begun a new position as marketing coordinator for Anthem Properties. Waters previously worked as a digital marketing coordinator for Alberta homebuilder Mattamy Homes.

Ryan O’Shea, president of Miracon Development, was awarded the Trailblazer Award by the Homebuilders Association of Vancouver (HAVAN). The award is given to a member of the organization in recognition of their leadership and contributions to support HAVAN, its members and the industry.

Michael McSweeney has been appointed executive director of the Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (OSSGA). The appointment comes following the departure of Norm Cheesman, who held the position for almost eight years. McSweeney just completed a year-long project as Ontario Road Builders Association (ORBA) CEO where he worked with to refocus the group’s efforts. Prior to that, he was president and CEO of the Cement Association of Canada (CAC) where he led the group for 12 years.

On behalf of the OSSGA Board, we are pleased to have Michael as our new ED at this pivotal moment in our sector’s history. Ontario Stone Sand and Gravel Association finds itself at a crucial moment in time as all three levels of government are committed to the largest infrastructure investment and spend that our Province has ever seen.

OSSGA Board of Directors Chair Rob Pierce

Scott Henson and Chris Davis have joined CarbonCure Technologies as chief operating officer and vice president of carbon products and public policy, respectively. The company says the pair bring big tech expertise to scaling CarbonCure’s climate tech. Both new additions offer a wealth of experience, including tenures with tech giants Amazon and Microsoft.

Their impressive backgrounds demonstrate their ability to drive innovation, execute strategy and deliver results with a focus on innovation and sustainability. Together with our talented team, they will play a pivotal role in our work to transform concrete into a climate solution.

CarbonCure Technologies
CarbonCure recently signed an agreement Heirloom to permanently store atmospheric CO2. – CarbonCure

Alexander Annikov will take over as Dream Industrial‘s new president and CEO in the new year. Sannikov has been with Dream for 15 years, since joining in 2008. He joined the Dream Industrial management team in 2019 and is currently serving as the president and chief operating officer.

Xavier Lissoir has joined Stack Modular as its new pre-construction manager and Santiago Lazala-Silva has joined as its new marketing specialist. Lissoir is a certified project management professional with a Masters in Civil Engineering and 14 years of experience overseeing building, marine, and civil works. Lazala-Silva is a communications professional with more than five years of experience specializing in graphic design, web design, marketing and corporate identity development.

Joël León Danis has been appointed executive director of the Toronto Society of Architects (TSA). The group stated that Danis has served the TAS as programming director for the last three years, and as a volunteer since 2016.

Joël’s advancement to Executive Director recognizes his extraordinary efforts in supporting the TSA’s mission including ongoing membership and audience growth, the continued variety, excellence and relevance of the organization’s programming offerings, and the positive impact of its educational and advocacy efforts on discourse on the built environment within our City and region.

Toronto Society of Architects
Joël León Danis

Elise Mailloux has been named Craftsperson of the Year by the General Presidents’ Maintenance Committee for Canada and the National Maintenance Council for Canada. The announcement was made at the annual Canadian Safety Achievement Awards. The award goes to a Canada Building Trades Union member who shows outstanding craftsmanship, professionalism and safety leadership through their performance or contribution on a maintenance job. Mailloux made history in 1998 when she became the first fully certified female ironworker in the nation.

Gordon Stifanyk has joined Burns & McDonnell as the leader for the firm’s transmission & distribution group in Canada. During his 20-year career, Stifanyk has supported clients and gained experience in high voltage interconnection, with utilities and renewables clients across North America and Australia.

Gord brings a unique blend of experiences that will be extremely valuable as he steps into his role as a leader within Burns & McDonnell,” says Darcy Wagner, managing director for the firm’s offices in Canada. “Gord has worked with Burns & McDonnell in various facets throughout his career — he knows how we operate. I’m confident that his experience and leadership will be a catalyst for our continued growth and success.

Darcy Wagner, managing director of Burns & McDonnell offices in Canada

Paul Crane, founder of Crane Steel Structures, is celebrating 50 years as a Certified Engineering Technologist. Before founding his Brandon-based company in 1981, Paul worked with a consulting engineering firm for ten years.

Charlie Webb, president and CEO of Anderson Webb Limited, has been elected president and chair of the MCAC Board of Directors for 2023-2024. He is preceded by Derek Ermen of Moncton, N.B.

I am very excited to be stepping into the role of MCAC President during this busy and transformative time for the mechanical contracting sector in Canada. Across the country our industry is dealing with unique challenges alongside exciting opportunities. Our sector has an essential part to play for a healthy Canadian economy, and our association is well-positioned to maximize that role on behalf of our members.

Charlie Webb, president and CEO, Anderson Webb Limited
Charlie Webb

Lisa Laronde, president of RSG International and Powell Contracting, has been named one of the 100 most powerful women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN). She was the first female leader of the global construction company. Laronde is also the president of the Canadian Association of Women in Construction.

I truly never expected to be in this position and it’s an absolute honour to be recognized, as this award validates all that I have done and all that I have achieved,” explains Laronde. “I love what I do, and I love the construction industry, but I cannot deny my belief that as a whole it needs to do more to promote women in leadership roles.

Lisa Laronde, RSG International president

Chris Gower has been promoted to deputy chief executive officer at PCL after 28 years with the company. Gower previously led the organization’s buildings division in Canada, the U.S. and Australia. He is a CCA Gold Seal certified estimator and project manager and was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 leaders.

Todd Craigen has been appointed COO and president, corporate services at PCL. Craigen has been with PCL for 27 years and most recently served as president for Eastern Canada. In this new role, Craigen will continue to oversee the Toronto and Solar districts and take on responsibility for corporate services departments including business technology, human resources, professional development, integrated construction services, and marketing and communications.

Home construction was front and centre for this year’s Fall Economic Statement.

Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister and the minister of finance, explained that the Economic Statement is focused on two key challenges, the rising cost of living and building affordable housing. 

For the latter, the federal government is introducing billions of dollars in new financing to speed home building, crack down on short-term rentals and increase the number of construction workers.

“Our economic plan is about building a strong economy that works for everyone, and this Fall Economic Statement is the next phase of our plan,” said Freeland. “With a focus on supporting the middle class and building more homes, faster, we are taking action on the priorities that matter most to Canadians today—and we will continue doing everything we can to deliver for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.”

The document contains detailed information on Canada’s Housing Action Plan, which is divided into several key areas:

Building More Homes Faster

This section discusses various strategies to accelerate housing construction. Key initiatives include:

  • Accelerating how communities build housing.
  • Leveraging federal funding to build more homes.
  • Removing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from new co-operative rental housing to reduce costs and encourage more development.
  • Providing more financing for apartment construction to address the demand for multi-family housing.
  • Building more affordable housing, addressing the critical need for housing that is financially accessible to a broader range of people.
  • Unlocking $20 billion in low-cost rental financing, which would make it easier to finance rental housing projects.
  • Speeding up financing approvals to expedite the process of building more homes.
  • Repurposing more federal lands for housing, which involves using government-owned land for residential development.
  • Strengthening the Co-operative Housing Development Program to support more collaborative, community-driven housing solutions.
  • Leveraging the Canada Infrastructure Bank to support more housing, using this entity to finance large-scale infrastructure projects, including housing.
  • Providing an update on Indigenous housing and the Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy.
  • Establishing the Department of Housing Infrastructure and Communities to oversee and streamline housing-related initiatives.

More Construction Workers to Build More Homes

This part focuses on workforce development in the construction sector. It includes:

  • Breaking down barriers to internal labor mobility, making it easier for construction workers to move and work across different regions.
  • Prioritizing construction workers for permanent residency, recognizing the critical role they play in addressing Canada’s housing needs.

Supporting Renters, Buyers, and Homeowners

This section addresses various measures to support different stakeholders in the housing market. Key points include:

  • Cracking down on non-compliant short-term rentals, which can impact the availability of long-term rental housing.
  • Introducing the New Canadian Mortgage Charter, aimed at protecting and supporting homebuyers.
  • Housing international students and protecting them from fraud, ensuring they have access to safe and reliable housing options

The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) stated that while the measures are a step in the right direction towards tackling the housing crisis, the federal government can and must do more.

“Billion-dollar fixes are being proposed, but the housing supply crisis and affordability issue is a trillion-dollar problem, as noted by the CMHC,” said RESCON president Richard Lyall. “We are encouraged that housing is a main focus of the feds but there are still many impediments that were not addressed such as the enormous infrastructure funding gap faced by municipalities that impedes new home construction.

We need a Marshall plan-styled strategy with respect to the chronic housing supply shortfall.

RESCON President Richard Lyall

RESCON was pleased the government announced $15 billion in new loan funding for builders of rental properties and $1 billion to support the building of affordable housing, as well as a mortgage charter that will clarify rules for homeowners who are facing renewals and ensure that lenders have appropriate mortgage relief policies in place for consumers facing hardship.

But Lyall argued that many impediments to housing construction were not addressed, such as reducing taxes associated with purchasing a home and the long approvals process that builders must endure when starting a project.

“Without tackling these issues, and the huge infrastructure funding gap being faced by municipalities, the housing problem will not be solved,” he said. “Municipalities are in a challenging position and the feds must pick up the slack by funding the necessary public infrastructure to support housing.”

Chrystia Freeland, finance minister and Justin Trudeau, prime minister, deliver Canada’s Fall Economic Statement. – Government of Canada

Key Takeaways:

  • The 34-year-old stadium is getting a $300M upgrade.
  • PCL has already conducted major demolition work the lower bowl and at the field level.
  • A total of 2.4 million pounds of structural steel has been fabricated offsite and will be installed at Rogers Centre to complete the project.
  • The work is expected to go through April next year.

The Whole Story:

PCL is going into extra innings on the Rogers Centre renovation project. The contractor announced it has been awarded the second phase of work to renovate the home of the Blue Jays in Toronto. 

The second phase of work is part of a more than $300 million multi-year renovation that aims to transform the 34-year-old multi-purpose stadium into a ballpark through a series of projects focused on modernizing the fan experience and building world-class player facilities for the Toronto Blue Jays. 

“PCL and our partners are passionate about bringing the Toronto Blue Jays’ reimagined vision for Rogers Centre to life,” says Monique Buckberger, vice president and district manager, PCL Constructors Canada Inc., Toronto. “Following the complex, fast-track renovation completed in just six months for the 2023 season, the second phase of the project will deliver an even greater volume of work in the same time frame, as the 100 level seating bowl is demolished and rebuilt to bring Blue Jays fans an experience designed specifically for baseball.”

The first phase of the project achieved substantial completion on March 31, 2023 and opened to fans on April 11 for the 2023 season Blue Jays Home Opener.

The second phase of work features a reimagined 100 level seating bowl and structure (from foul pole to foul pole) designed specifically for baseball viewing, with an all-new Blue Jays clubhouse in addition to three new premium clubs and seating sections. The 100 level seating bowl features:

  • A more comfortable experience with additional legroom, modern-shaped seats with slats on the back that provide more airflow, wider seats between the dugouts, cupholders throughout, adaptable raisable armrest options and handrails in every aisle.
  • Greater variety of seating options including different vantage points from new sections, accessible field level seats plus premium seating experiences.
  • Designed specifically for baseball viewing with seats oriented towards the infield, improved sightlines with less obstruction and new seats closer to the action as a result of the remodeled bowl structure.

The three new premium clubs include:

  • Batting Tunnel Club located behind home plate – third base side.
  • Home Plate Club located directly behind home plate.
  • The Lounge located behind home plate – first base side.
A rendering shows a reimagined baseline at Rogers Centre. – Toronto Blue Jays

Crews have already completed demolition work for the lower bowl and at the field level. At the peak of demolition and excavation work, 10 excavators were on site with 344 dump trucks cycling in and out of Rogers Centre over a temporary bridge in one day.

With a fast-tracked construction timeline, formwork for the new build began and the first new concrete was poured on the same day demolition was completed in October.

Approximately 500 truckloads worth of concrete are expected to be poured to complete the project. On Nov. 9, a major piece of mechanical equipment was delivered by crane from Bremner Blvd. into Rogers Centre through an opening in the roof.

The first structural steel column was put up on November 13. A total of 2.4 million pounds of structural steel has been fabricated offsite and will be installed at Rogers Centre to complete the project.

Key Takeaways:

  • DIGITAL will work with collaborative project teams from industry, government and academia to develop new ideas.
  • The call will develop a portfolio of innovative digital solutions that can be shared and deployed across the province.
  • Project proposals are encouraged to contemplate opportunities across the full life cycle of housing construction.
  • DIGITAL’s Housing Growth Innovation Program is leveraging a $9 million investment over three years from the province.

The Whole Story:

DIGITAL, Canada’s Global Innovation Cluster for digital technologies, has launched a call for proposals under their new Housing Growth Innovation Program to grow housing production capacity in B.C.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) report “Housing shortages in Canada: Updating how much housing we need by 2030” forecasts that B.C. will need to add hundreds of thousands of new housing units by 2030. Under the Housing Growth Innovation Program, DIGITAL will work with collaborative project teams from industry, government and academia to develop new ideas, find what works and action solutions that grow the construction sector and build more homes.

Project proposals are encouraged to contemplate opportunities across the full life cycle of housing construction including due diligence, design, construction and post-construction stages and those related to medium to large-scale residential construction, including prefab and mass timber. DIGITAL says there is also room to address friction points that inhibit growth through an open category aimed at systemic supply chain or market challenges as housing production capacity grows. 

DIGITAL stated that the call will develop a portfolio of innovative digital solutions that can be shared and deployed across the province to unlock the growth and economic potential of housing construction in B.C., and ultimately help grow housing stock.

“DIGITAL is proud to announce the launch of our Housing Growth Innovation Program, an effort that will leverage our proven approach to developing digital solutions to address the housing challenge in British Columbia,” said Sue Paish, CEO of DIGITAL. “We look forward to working alongside private industry, government and housing community partners to develop new ideas, find what works and action solutions for the benefit of all British Columbians.”

DIGITAL stated that it believes in assembling collaborative project teams to develop and drive forward innovative solutions to some of society’s biggest challenges. Its partnerships include but are not limited to builders, educators, professional service providers, not-for-profits, technology developers and government bodies. 

They argued that this approach allows teams to draw upon a larger range of skills, expertise and experience, thereby improving the quality of the innovations produced and ensuring they are ready for commercialization and real-world applications.

DIGITAL’s Housing Growth Innovation Program is leveraging a $9 million investment over three years from the province, which was announced in April 2023, as part of the Digital Housing Construction Initiative in their Homes for People Action Plan.

“This is another step forward in our government’s commitment to use existing technology and leading innovation to bring a more efficient permitting process to B.C. so we can build more homes, faster,” said Ravi Kahlon, minister of housing. “We are excited to see DIGITAL work with partners to advance digital innovation and increase productivity in British Columbia’s housing construction sector.”

Interested parties are encouraged to visit the Housing Growth Innovation Program call for proposals page for more details and to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI).

Key Takeaways:

  • A request for proposals to select a consultant was issued. The consultant will help develop the design parameters and review design submissions. 
  • As many as 10 different designs will be developed.
  • Standardized designs and plans are expected to be available to local governments by summer 2024.

The Whole Story:

Do you have any ideas for what the perfect home design should be?

B.C. officials want to know. 

The province is embarking on a project to create new standardized designs for small-scale, multi-unit homes, such as townhomes, triplexes and laneway homes. They hope the designs will help builders and developers create housing faster and cheaper. 

“In order to address our housing crisis, we must use innovative solutions to enable housing to be built faster,” said Ravi Kahlon, minister of housing. “Having standardized building designs available can help streamline the permitting process. We will work to add additional designs in the coming years to ensure our communities remain vibrant and have a variety of housing options.”

Through the new Standardized Housing Design Project, the province is creating new standardized, customizable residential designs for small-scale, multi-unit housing built on single lots. Officials stated that the designs can be adopted by local governments and offered to builders and homeowners at a significantly below-market cost to expedite permitting and development. The province is seeking to engage a consultant team to provide expert advice on the development of these designs.

Officials explained that standardized designs can substantially streamline the permitting process to make it easier for local governments to give building-permit approvals quickly and save builders and homeowners design costs. They also assist smaller local governments that may not have the resources to develop standardized designs to help approve developments efficiently and quickly.

The move follows the recent introduction of legislation that, if passed, will allow three to four units on land currently zoned for single-family homes and duplexes, and as many as six units near bus stops with frequent transit service. During the consultation process, local governments suggested a catalogue of design options needs to be available to support small-scale developers, builders and homeowners to build these new homes.

A request for proposals to select a consultant was issued Nov. 15, 2023, for the first phase of the project and will close Dec. 13, 2023. The consultant’s scope of work will include collaborative engagement with industry professionals and local governments to develop the design parameters that can be used to create standardized housing designs. The consultant will also support the province in reviewing the draft and completed designs. 

The province will work with the consultant for nine months, with the goal to procure design services by spring 2024. Standardized designs and plans are expected to be available to local governments by summer 2024.

As many as 10 different designs will be developed. The designs will comply with the BC Building Code and are expected to be as close as possible to building-permit ready, recognizing minor amendments may be required by local designers or architects to take into account specific site conditions. The designs will be created for various lot sizes and configurations to be widely applicable throughout B.C. and are expected to help builders and homeowners add increased density to their existing properties quickly and more affordably.

In addition to the housing designs, a separate project is underway to develop guidebooks that can act as a blueprint for local governments to implement a pre-approval process and provide guidance to homeowners and small-scale builders about how to add density to their lots with standardized designs.

Key Takeaways:

  • Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have spent years developing AI and robotic solutions for construction.
  • They recently demonstrated that their robots can scan sites, create a digital twin and begin doing tasks that it recognizes as unfinished when compared to the BIM model.
  • The team has also written algorithms that recognize humans and hazards so the robots will stop work if someone is in danger or adjust their path if something is in the way.

The Whole Story:

Autonomous construction robots are ready to graduate from the classroom and begin doing real construction work on jobsites. 

UBC Faculty of Applied Science researchers recently demonstrated at a real site how their technology can transform construction vehicles — cranes, forklifts and excavators — into smart construction robots powered by AI.

Structural engineer Dr. Tony Yang, a professor of civil engineering and lead researcher of the Smart Structures lab, believes these robots will help to speed up construction times, make construction sites safer and address labour shortages.

Yang and his team deployed their technology at a site on Mitchell Island in Richmond, B.C. for a crowd of construction company representatives. Aerial drones fitted with cameras captured details that were then used to create a digital twin of the site. AI-equipped cranes and forklifts used this information to move construction materials such as beams and columns around the actual site, navigating around obstacles without needing a human operator.

“So over the last few years we have been developing many novel AI algorithms to allow us to actually be able to execute this,” said Yang. “We’re riding on this wave because AI technology is now actually very mature and it can be easily applied. You can see cars driving by themselves. We can start using this kind of technology to do autonomous construction.”

The technology is able to detect when workers show up within a danger zone on site and halt work to prevent injury. – UBC Applied Science

Yang explained that the smart construction robots are able to recognize objects, performing detailed scans of structural components for quality assurance. They can precisely place objects on site and check against a computer model to ensure they’re building according to plan. They can make autonomous decisions such as navigating around obstacles or instantly stopping work to protect a worker who is in danger.

“Once these things become more mature and the first jobs get going, it will just roll it by itself because it’s cheaper, faster and safer and there is zero ramp up time,” he said. “You don’t need to train people. It’s already immediately deployed. So it will become the only way to do it.”

Yang believes AI and robots can help solve construction’s labour crunch in a way that is cheaper, faster and safer than traditional methods. 

“The new generations, like Generation Z and Generation X, they really don’t like to go to construction sites. It’s a very harsh environment. It’s tiring,” said Yang. “It’s getting very difficult to actually get skilled workers to work in many places. The idea behind this is now we can start building with robots. We can train the robot to do our jobs, to make the construction more efficient.”

He explained that this would eliminate laborious tasks and elevate skilled workers’ roles on a site. 

“I envision those skilled workers as skilled managers and they can start managing more projects, even remotely overseas. They can be elevated and the machines are doing the dirty jobs,” said Yang. 

Yang believes we are at a point where the technology works and is ready to be deployed, but the biggest barrier is the industry itself. 

“The construction industry is usually very reluctant to change,” he said. “One reason is because the business model is to have this crew of people and then charge by the hour. It’s like a big mothership and it can be difficult to change directions.”

Yang noted that previous implementations of AI and robots in construction pale in comparison to what can be done now. The technology has been used for painting or tiling but he believes it is ready for real construction work that creates the actual structure of a project. And while the industry may be reluctant to change, Yang says it is inevitable.   

“I think in the next 10 years, this is the only way to do business because no one will be there to do it,” said Yang. “Our skilled workers are retiring. They cannot do it. So it will be unavoidable. We are lucky we’re pushing the envelope, but there’s still a lot of work ahead of us.”

The demonstration was performed in front of dozens of construction company representatives and Yang said he and his team plan to continue developing the technology. 

Next on his radar is applying AI and autonomous machines to excavation tasks and working with local builders to test the technology out in a variety of situations and weather conditions.    

Professor of Civil Engineering and lead researcher Tony Yang (centre) with members of Smart Structures Lab. – UBC Applied Science

Transitioning away from fossil fuels to electricity is one of the great projects of our time and Canada wants to be a major player.

The federal government and provincial leaders are aggressively seeking investment for facilities that support electrification and the strategy seems to be working. In the past few years, billions and billions of dollars have been invested in developing massive facilities to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles and other devices.

Here’s some of the largest projects underway that are supporting electrification in Canada and around the globe.

E-One-Moli – Maple Ridge, B.C.

The project is being designed to operate using green energy. – E-One Moli

The ink is still wet on this deal. Just this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government and the province of B.C. would be supporting a $1.05-billion lithium-ion battery cell production facility in Maple Ridge, B.C. The facility, which is being developed by Taiwan-based E-One Moli, is expected to produce 135 million batteries annually. The company says the “gigafactory” will be the world’s first ultra-high power battery plant powered 100% green energy.

Umicore – Loyalist, Ont.

Could this be the missing link in North America’s EV battery value chain? Umicore thinks so. Last month, the global tech company announced that it is proceeding with the first phase of a $2.7 billion project will be executed in multiple stages. The facility will manufacture cathode active materials (CAM) and precursor cathode active materials (pCAM), critical components for producing electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Together, the federal government and Ontario are contributing $975 million for the project. Commissioning is expected to occur in 2025.

Ford – Bécancour, Que.

Ford says the plant will help it build a vertically integrated, closed-loop battery manufacturing supply chain in North America. – EcoPro  

Ford is betting big on Quebec. Construction has begun on a $1.2 billion cathode manufacturing facility in Bécancour. The plant is part of Ford’s strategy to localize key battery raw material processing in regions where it produces EVs. SNC-Lavalin has been awarded an initial works contract for the facility worth $141 million. Once production begins in the first half of 2026, the site will have the capacity to produce up to 45,000 tonnes of cathode active material (CAM) per year.

General Motors – Ingersoll, Ont.

Prime Minister Trudeau gets behind the wheel of a BrightDrop Zevo 600. – Ryan Bolton and Brody White

General Motors of Canada has undergone a major transformation. Last winter, the company announced the opening of its first full-scale electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing plant in Ingersoll, Ont. With support from the province, GM Canada spent more than $2 billion transforming its CAMI manufacturing plant into an all-EV manufacturing facility, the first of its kind in the country. Officials say the project could help secure Ontario’s position as a global automotive hub. One of the vehicles the plant is producing is the BrightDrop Zevo 600, a light commercial vehicle that runs on a lithium-ion battery.

Stellantis – Windsor, Ont.

Crews work on Stellantis’ massive EV battery facility in Windsor, Ont. – Stellantis

Despite a seven-week strike to sort out project funding, work is underway to build a $5-billion electric vehicle EV battery plant in Windsor. They aren’t just making batteries. They are making Ontario history. The plant marks the largest private in the history of the province and it’s the largest investment in the history of the Canadian auto industry. The facility, a joint venture of Stellantis and LG Energy Solution, will stretch roughly 4.5 million square feet and employ 2,500 people. The plant is expected to begin production next year.

Northvolt – Montreal, Que.

Swedish company Northvolt is in the early stages of setting up operations in Quebec. Just weeks ago they purchased 18.5 million sq. ft. of land in McMasterville and Saint-Basile-le-Grand for an undisclosed sum. The land used to be an explosives factory but has sat dormant for 25 years. The company says it plans to build Northvolt Six, a fully integrated lithium-ion battery gigafactory, just outside of Montreal. Construction of the first 30 GWh phase of the project is due to commence before the end of 2023 and the first operations are set to begin in 2026. Northvolt anticipates the first phase will require $7 billion of investment, the largest private investment in Quebec history.

Volkswagen – St. Thomas, Ont.

Something big is powering up in Ontario. Volkswagen’s St. Thomas Gigafactory will have six production blocks with a potential production volume of up to 90 gigawatt hours – enough for about 1 million EVs a year. This is going to be critical for Volkswagen as it has plans to introduce more than 25 new EV models by 2030.

Two years following a catastrophic atmospheric river, B.C.’s transportation network is coming back stronger.

On the two-year anniversary of the disaster, B.C. officials announced that permanent repairs to Coquihalla Highway 5 are complete after flooding washed it out. 

The repaired highway features six new climate-resilient bridges built in place of the ones that were lost in November 2021. The six bridge spans located at three different locations have been rebuilt to handle extreme weather. 

The new permanent bridges are now finished at Bottletop Bridge, 50 kilometres south of Merritt, and Jessica Bridge, 20 kilometres north of Hope. The bridges at Juliet, 53 kilometres south of Merritt, were completed earlier this year.

Reflecting on disaster 

The BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association (BCRB&HCA) reflected on the atmospheric river and the spotlight it put on the construction sector. 

“Our member companies rose to the challenge despite an incredible set of circumstances, and pulled off the unthinkable given the scope of repairs,” said Kelly Scott, president, BCRB&HCA. “This success story is a showcase for our members’ fortitude and dedication, as well as a reminder of the benefits displayed by strong partnerships.”

Coquihalla Highway 5 was closed to regular vehicle traffic on Nov. 14, 2021, due to damage caused by an atmospheric river. The rain caused flooding and washouts between Hope and Merritt. More than 20 sites spanning 130 kilometres were damaged. This included six bridges where spans completely collapsed or were damaged.

More than 300 workers used 200 pieces of equipment and moved more than 400,000 cubic metres of gravel, rock and other material to repair and reopen Highway 5 to commercial vehicle traffic in 35 days, on Dec. 20, 2021, and to all traffic on Jan. 19, 2022. 

Adapting to climate change

Scott added that the damage the weather did to the province underscores the challenges the region faces and the necessity of resilient infrastructure, 

“The impact of climate change on infrastructure in British Columbia in recent years has been profound,” said Scott. “It’s demonstrated that now is the time to invest in climate resilient transportation infrastructure throughout B.C., to meet our needs today and prepare for what the future holds. That’s why programs like The RoadShow will be critical, so that we fill key roles that maintain the infrastructure that is the backbone of this province.”

The 2021 atmospheric river caused the Juliet Bridge on Highway 5 to collapse. – Province of B.C.

The road building community and others instrumental in the rebuild effort were highlighted by the province in its announcement. 

“Today, we are honouring the efforts of British Columbians who worked to rebuild after the atmospheric river event, two years ago,” said Rob Fleming, minister of transportation and infrastructure. “Thank you to the Nlaka’pamux communities, Silyx Nation, Peters First Nation and Yale First Nation along with their monitors, for their support through the washout and rebuild process; and to the many contractors, unions, ministry and road-maintenance staff who worked to rebuild this piece of highway that is so important to the movement of goods in our province.”

Rebuilding with resilience

The new bridges are built to withstand high water levels by using deep-pile footings and longer spans. Large rock protection has been added to protect the bridges from erosion and scour. Trees, shrubs and grasses have been planted to encourage stream-side re-vegetation and support overall restoration of aquatic and land habitat.  

KEA5, a joint venture between Kiewit Infrastructure British Columbia and Emil Anderson Construction, completed the bridges two months ahead of schedule.

The Bottletop Bridge on Highway 5 was also severely damaged in the 2021 flooding event. – Province of B.C.

Officials added that repairs to highways damaged in the floods are progressing well across southwestern B.C. In addition to the completion of the full rebuild of Highway 5, two of the three bridge replacements on Highway 1 are underway at Nicomen and Falls Creek. Design of the third bridge replacement at Tank hill is underway with construction expected to start next year.  The ministry is working with local First Nation communities to fully re-build Highway 8 between Merritt and Spences Bridge. On Vancouver Island, permanent repairs are complete at the Tunnel Hill section of the Malahat that was washed out by flooding.