Site prep begins for Halifax Infirmary expansion project

Key Takeaways:

  • the province is investing $254 million in the design and site preparation phase of the Halifax Infirmary expansion
  • The expansion will enable services to be relocated from aging facilities.
  • This phase of construction, which will ready the site for the new tower, is expected to continue throughout 2024.

The Whole Story: 

Halifax is one step closer to a major healthcare upgrade.

Nova Scotia announced that site preparation is about to begin for the acute care tower at the QEII Health Sciences Centre’s Halifax Infirmary site.

In early spring, workers will start putting up fencing, begin site excavation and apply for all necessary construction permits. A new emergency department entrance for the public off Bell Road will also be constructed. 

The province stated that this work will help pave the way for a modern healthcare building that will include 216 acute care beds, 16 operating rooms, an intensive care unit and a new, larger emergency department.

“This is one of many steps ahead of us, but it is a significant step forward for the largest healthcare construction project ever considered in this province. It will mean better healthcare services for Nova Scotians for generations to come,” said Michelle Thompson, minister responsible for healthcare redevelopment. “Not only will this exceptional facility provide the best care for Nova Scotians, but it will also help us attract and retain the talented healthcare professionals we need to deliver that care.”

This phase of construction, which will ready the site for the new tower, is expected to continue throughout 2024.

As part of this project, the province continues to upgrade the Halifax Infirmary’s Summer Street entrance, which will become the hospital’s main entrance during construction. Work also continues to relocate utilities, as well as to replace and renovate the hospital’s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) space.

Key Takeaways:

  • The partnership is 40% Aecon and 60% Pomerleau.
  • The 12-month development phase includes finalizing the design and estimating schedule and cost for the Contrecœur Terminal Expansion project in-water works.
  • The scope of in-water works following the development phase includes dredging, the construction of dock infrastructure, quay walls, return walls, and auxiliary works.

The Whole Story:

Contrecoeur Terminal Constructors General Partnership, comprised of Aecon (40%) and Pomerleau (60%), has executed a contract with the Montréal Port Authority (MPA) for the Contrecœur Terminal Expansion project in-water works under a Progressive Design-Build approach.

The collaborative agreement covers a 12-month development phase to finalize the design, estimated schedule and cost of this phase of the project, delivered under a Progressive Design-Build approach. The scope of in-water works following the development phase includes dredging, the construction of dock infrastructure, quay walls, return walls, and auxiliary works.

“The in-water works are an important component of delivering the new Contrecœur terminal – providing increased capacity to the largest container port in Eastern Canada and supporting continued economic growth in Québec and Canada,” said Jean-Louis Servranckx, president and CEO, Aecon Group Inc. “We look forward to bringing our experience working under collaborative delivery models and building complex civil infrastructure to deliver this vital project with our client and partner.”

The Contrecœur terminal is a diversified transshipment centre served by some of the largest shipping lines in the world – connecting to major rail networks and highways and helping to meet the needs of domestic and international importers, exporters and consumers.

“We are proud to be part of the Port of Montreal’s Contrecœur expansion project, which will enable APM to realize its innovative vision for the country’s shipping industry,” said Philippe Adam, president and CEO of Pomerleau. “We applaud the use of the collaborative design-build model, which prioritizes transparency and teamwork between prime contractor and designer, ensuring better planning and risk management. Together, with our partner Aecon and the APM team, we will leverage our know-how and experience in the design and construction of world-class port infrastructures.

Alex Burkinshaw has accepted a new role as vice president of project development at Surespan Group.

Osama Moselhi, a professor at the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science and the director of Concordia’s Centre for Innovation in Construction and Infrastructure Engineering and Management,  has been appointed as a member of the Order of Canada. Moselhi received the country’s highest honour for his contributions to the fields of construction engineering and education.

Osama Moselhi

This recognition from the Order of Canada is not mine alone. It reflects the collaborative spirit and exceptional talents of my students, past and current, and colleagues I’ve worked with — in academia and the industry, in Canada and globally.

Osama Moselhi

Mark Heffernan has been named principal at O’M Engineering. Heffernan has over 16 years of experience in the industry and began his career as a qualified electrician.

Paul Verhesen, former president and CEO of Clark Builders, has been hired as a strategic advisor for KV Capital. Verhesen brings over 30 years of construction industry leadership to his new role spearheading the expansion of the private equity group into building products acquisitions.

Brent Payne is Marcon’s new vice president of construction. He has 30 years of global experience in civil engineering, transportation, construction management, project and program management.

Tanya Palson, executive director of the Manitoba Building Trades, has been appointed the new chair of the Manitoba Apprenticeship Board.

Being the first female executive director of the Manitoba Building Trades, I hope to bring a diverse perspective towards building upon our history and helping us write the next chapter,” said Palson. “A negative stigma still exists around skilled trades work, and we are facing the largest labour shortages our industry has ever experienced. It’s important to continue and expand our efforts with our community partners, and governments to open the door to the trades for so many Manitobans.

Tanya Palson, executive director, Manitoba Building Trades
Tanya Palson

Dave Pooley has been named chief financial officer of Bridgit. Pooley will oversee Bridgit’s financial strategy and efficiency across the organization.

Josh Gaglardi, president of Orion Construction, has joined the board of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association. Under Gaglardi’s leadership, Orion has become one of Canada’s fastest growing companies. 

Josh Teller, also of Orion Construction, has been promoted from site superintendent to general superintendent.

Since Orion’s inception, Josh [Teller] has exemplified excellence. With over 23 years of experience in site supervision, his leadership has been invaluable.

Orion Construction

Jason Davidson is celebrating 20 years at PCL. The HSE manager for the company’s Ottawa district left his career as a paramedic to join the construction sector. He has worked on landmark projects, including the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion and the BC Place Roof Phase II project.

Jatinder Heer is NorLand’s new chief financial officer. He brings over 20 years of progressive experience in business leadership and corporate governance.

Kristal Kaye has been brought on as chief financial officer for CarbonCure. Kaye brings 25 years of finance expertise across a variety of industries, including mining, energy and retail pharmacy. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) who most recently served as CFO for Arctic Canadian Diamond Company.

Kristal’s expertise in financial management and strategic planning will undoubtedly be assets to CarbonCure and our mission, helping us achieve our goals, operate with efficiency at scale and generate even more value for our customers.

CarbonCure CEO Robert Niven

Barry Charnish, founding principal of Entuitive in Toronto, has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from Canadian Consulting Engineer

Esther Rivard-Sirois has been promoted to principal at Kasian. She has been with the firm for 16 years, starting as an intern architect. 

Norm Streu has been hired as associate counsel for Harper Grey LLP. Streu has an extensive history in the construction sector, previously serving as president of Con-Force Structures, executive vice president of NCM development at Nexii and president of LMS Reinforcing Steel Group. 

Cameron McPhaden is starting a new position as a senior design manager at EllisDon. As part of the team delivering the New Surrey Hospital and BC Cancer Center project, he has recently been confirmed as the Design-Builder’s Design Manager, a contractual Key Individual. 

John Cameron, Keller Construction’s chairman, has been appointed MacEwan University’s Allard Chair in Business.  

John Cameron

Under John’s visionary leadership, Keller Construction Ltd. has left an indelible mark on the western Canadian landscape since the 1980s. From intricate visitor centers to major housing developments, his commitment to excellence and innovation has shaped the success of our company.

Keller Construction

Andrew Tashiro, senior principal of properties and buildings at WSP in Canada, is celebrating 34 years at the company. 

Andy Tam has been appointed senior vice president of development at Nonni Property Group. Tam has more than 28 years of experience in the sector. He will oversee all development and construction activities.

Ralph Ward has officially retired from Scott Builders. The company said Ward founded the modern version of Scott when he purchased the company in the mid 1980s. He led it for many years as president and CEO. More recently, he worked on the company’s board. 

Tanya Justason has been promoted to project accountant at Westridge Construction. Justason initially joined Westridge in October 2023 as the accounting administrator, but the company says her dedication and adaptability led to a swift promotion. 

Josh Gallipeau, also of Westridge Construction, is celebrating 10 years at the company. He serves as a journeyperson carpenter and is currently leading the way as the concrete superintendent on the Redbear Avenue Pumping Station & Reservoirs project.

Paul Forgues has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Edmonton Construction Association. Starting his career as a draftsman, Forgues worked his way up to become project director at Bird Construction.

Drew Monnier has started a new role as operations manager, infrastructure, in Graham’s Manitoba District.

Alicia Cornford has been promoted to director, brand & engagement at Clark Builders. She has more than 17 years of experience in the AEC industry and serves as the acting board president for the Canadian Society for Marketing Professional Services. 

Helen van ter MeijPCL’s treasury supervisor, is celebrating 40 years with the company. 

Derron Bain now holds the title of CEO of Concert Infrastructure. The company stated that the change reflects and aligns with the leadership and practice in the Canadian infrastructure sector. It also reflects the growing scale and scope of the Concert Infrastructure business and team.

Tara Rogers has joined Flatiron as director of preconstruction Canada. Prior to the role, she worked at Deloitte leading capital projects practice in B.C. Tara has almost 25 years of experience in the infrastructure development market and is part of the steering committee for Women in Infrastructure Network (WIN).

The Vancouver Regional Construction Association has announced the 2024 members for its Young Construction Leaders CommitteeAvi Horwitz (Sterling Floor & Tile) will serve as chair, Hugo Huynh (Flynn Canada) is vice chair, Victoria Ellery (Timescapes Canada) is secretary and Nic Labelle-Giuglian (Waste Management) is treasurer. 

Trevor Doucette  has joined Synergy Group of Companies as its new senior director of operations. Doucette will work closely with Synergy’s management team to ensure the success of the projects it undertakes and help them continue to grow their footprint across Alberta and Canada.

Kathryn Kennedy has been appointed chief growth officer at online heavy equipment rental company DOZR. Kennedy has held senior leadership positions at large online companies, including Wayfair, Zulily, Amazon, and Expedia.

I am excited to join DOZR at such a pivotal moment in its growth trajectory. The company has already established itself as a leader in the heavy equipment rental space, and I look forward to working with the talented team to unlock new opportunities and drive sustainable growth. Together, we will leverage data-driven strategies and innovative approaches to further enhance the customer experience and solidify DOZR’s position as the preferred choice for heavy equipment rentals.

Kathryn Kennedy, chief growth officer, DOZR

Dave Turnbull is Lark Group‘s new construction safety officer. Turnbull brings over 35 years of experience in the construction industry and he spent more than a decade focused on safety as a CSO/OFA (Level 2).

Chris Elkey has been appointed chief operating officer at Kerkhoff Develop • Build

Greg Epp has joined Guillevin Calgary | Electrical | DataCom as its industrial business development manager.

 Alyssa Dudek, project manager for Graham Construction, received the Edmonton Construction Association‘s Volunteer Impact Award in recognition of her leadership in WomenBuild.

Simon Green has hired as vice president, major projects west, at Aecon.

Ilana Danzig and Will Watson are the newest principals to join ASPECT Structural Engineers. The firm stated that that Danzig and Watson embody ASPECT’s core values of quality, accountability, drive, diversity, and collaboration, and will act as ambassadors of the firm as it continues to grow.

Nikki Keith (Wilson M. Beck Insurance Services Inc.), Sam Brezden (Fort Modular), Ronan Deane (NAC Constructors Ltd.), and Craig Enns (EllisDon Corporation) have joined the Vancouver Regional Construction Association’s board of directors.

Jason Nelson has joined Edge Consultants as their new chief executive officer, bringing two decades of experience in the building consulting industry across North America.

Our collaboration with Jason symbolizes a new era for Edge Consultants. Together, we’re committed to enhancing our impact in creating healthier, smarter, and more sustainable buildings.

Eoghan Hayes, principal at Edge Sustainability Consulting

Key Takeaways:

  • The city is expected to experience 29,100 construction job openings, 6% of total job openings in the coming decade. 
  • Three out of four job openings within the construction industry will result from the need to replace workers over the forecast period.
  • Some of the reports recommendations include focusing immigration on skilled workers, targeting underrepresented groups, easing job requirements and creating incentives to attract surplus labour from other provinces.

The Whole Story:

Construction is one of five industries that will experience the most job openings in Calgary over the next decade, a new report predicts. 

Calgary Economic Region Labour Market Outlook 2024-2033, the city’s first economic regional-level labour market outlook to provide detailed labour market projections has been released. It includes a 10-year assessment of the expected gap between labour demand and supply within the Calgary Economic Region.

The report assesses what is responsible for changes in the demand and supply of jobs and estimates future supply and demand by industry, occupation, and education. After providing a long-term assessment of potential labour market imbalances in the region, the report suggests policy changes to help address the identified labour market imbalances.

“The key takeaway from the Labour Market Outlook is that the Calgary Economic Region is expected to experience dynamic labour market conditions and challenges over the next decade. During the current budget cycle, the CER labour market will experience labour surpluses driven by increases in population and labour supply, but the Outlook also shows that we should anticipate labour shortages in specific occupations in the next budget cycle”, said Carla Male, The city’s chief financial officer. 

Zooming in on construction, the sector is expected to experience 29,100 job openings, 6% of total job openings for the next decade. 

Key highlights include:

  • Over the next 10 years, the Calgary Region is expected to offer 479,000 positions to job seekers. Economic growth is expected to drive job openings within the current budget cycle. However, replacing aging workers will be the primary driver of job openings in the long term, as it is estimated that one in every six Calgarians will be at least 65 years or older by 2030.
  •  Hiring challenges that began after the pandemic are expected to ease within the current budget cycle (2023-2026) as the number of job seekers exceeds the number of job openings as net migration reaches record highs. This labour surplus will be driven by the federal government’s plan to attract 985,000 workers (and their families), coupled with Calgary’s relative housing affordability.
  • The next budget cycle (2027-2030) will see a different trend driven by a shortage in labour supply. The combination of economic expansion as interest rates moderate, coupled with a slowdown in population growth will lead to a slowdown in job seekers and surge in job openings. Without compensating policy actions, some labour market imbalances are expected to re-emerge in key occupations between 2027 and 2030.
  • Five Industries are expected to account for half of all job openings over the next 10 years: construction; professional, scientific and technical services; health care and social assistance; retail trade, accommodation and food services.
  • Some industries are forecast to have surplus labour. These include: Auditors,

Accountants, and investment professionals; helpers, labourers (warehouse workers and material handlers); insurance, real estate and financial sales occupations; retail and wholesale trade managers; elementary and kindergarten schoolteachers. 

The report’s authors explained that Calgary’s construction industry is currently facing shortages, delaying projects while raising price fluctuation risks. While job vacancies have declined for three consecutive quarters as of Q2 2023, job vacancies remain elevated. 

“Construction jobs are still a primary contributing factor to the elevated job vacancies within the region,” they wrote. “Record high net migration and relative affordability have increased demand for housing construction. On the other hand, an aging workforce and a drop in construction trade enrolments have contributed to the slow growth in the supply of construction workers. As a result, close to three out of four job openings within the construction industry will result from the need to replace workers over the forecast period.”

They added that unless policies targets individuals with the skills to work in construction, immigration numbers may not necessarily ease some current and projected shortages.

These were their overall recommendations: 

  • Immigration support and advocacy to attract people with the right skills. 
  • Support for easing regulation and licensing requirements.
  • Introducing mobility incentives to attract surplus labour from other provinces.
  • Increased municipal government advocacy for provincial government investment in education and training programs for occupations with acute shortages.
  • Increasing job market participation by underrepresented groups, especially encouraging youth and women’s participation in the labour force.

Key Takeaways:

  • Toronto is one of several cities Ontario is awarding funding this month.
  • Brampton, Brantford and Chatham-Kent also received millions for their progress on housing goals.
  • The money stems from the province’s Building Faster Fund, a three-year, $1.2 billion program that is designed to encourage municipalities to address the housing supply crisis.

The Whole Story:

It pays to crush your housing goals. 

Premier Doug Ford announced Ontario is providing Toronto with $114 million in funding through the Building Faster Fund after the city exceeded its 2023 housing target. Toronto broke ground on a total of 31,656 new housing units last year, unlocking an additional $38 million by exceeding their 2023 target by 51%.

“Toronto has shown it can get it done on housing and we are proud to reward them for their success,” said Premier Doug Ford. “My challenge to Mayor Chow and to every mayor in Ontario is to get even more homes built in the coming years so we can make life more affordable and keep the dream of homeownership alive for families across the province. We’ll be there to support you every step of the way.”

Announced in August 2023, the Building Faster Fund is a three-year, $1.2 billion program that is designed to encourage municipalities to address the housing supply crisis. The fund rewards municipalities that make significant progress against their targets by providing funding for housing-enabling and community-enabling infrastructure. Funding is provided to municipalities that have reached at least 80 per cent of their provincially assigned housing target for the year with increased funding for municipalities that exceed their target.

“It’s harder than ever for people in Toronto to find a home they can afford,” said Mayor Olivia Chow. “We are committed to addressing the housing crisis by building more homes of all kinds, faster. Toronto has an ambitious plan to speed up approval times and build 65,000 rental homes in the coming years. The Building Faster Fund will help us meet and exceed our housing targets and provide the critical infrastructure that creates great neighbourhoods for people to live in.”

In the coming weeks, the province will announce Building Faster Fund rewards for all municipalities that met, exceeded or achieved 80% of their assigned housing targets in 2023. Any unspent funding will be made available for housing-enabling infrastructure to all municipalities, including those that have already received funding as a result of reaching their targets, through an application process. In addition, ten per cent – or $120 million – of the Building Faster Fund is being set aside for small, rural and northern municipalities to help build housing-enabling infrastructure and prioritize projects that speed up the increase of housing supply.

“I applaud the work being done by Toronto and all the other municipalities that have met or exceeded their housing targets,” said Paul Calandra, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Our government is committed to building at least 1.5 million homes by 2031 and I look forward to unveiling the next steps in our plan to build more homes with the release of our fifth housing supply action plan next month.”

Other cities that have received funds include:

  • $25.5 million for Brampton for substantial progress towards meeting its 2023 housing target. Brampton broke ground on a total of 7,028 new housing units last year.
  • $440,000 for Chatham-Kent after the municipality exceeded its 2023 housing target. Chatham-Kent broke ground on a total of 522 new housing units last year, unlocking an additional $146,667 by exceeding their 2023 target.
  • $3 million for Brantford for exceeding its 2023 housing target. Brantford broke ground on a total of 788 new housing units last year, unlocking an additional $400,182 by exceeding their 2023 target by 8%.

Canadian food and pharmacy retailer, Loblaw Companies Limited, expects to invest more than $2 billion dollars into the Canadian economy in 2024. 

This includes the construction of 40 new stores, expanding or relocating 10 stores and renovating more than 700 others. 

The company says the record investment reflects Loblaw’s plans to enhance its store network, create job opportunities, and improve accessibility to affordable food and healthcare services for communities across the country.

The company’s capital investments this year are expected to create more than 7,500 jobs in Canada.

“This year, we are investing where Canadians need it most. We will introduce more than 40 new discount stores and 140 new pharmacy care clinics in communities across the country – making healthcare and affordable food more accessible to more people,” said Per Bank, president and CEO, Loblaw Companies Limited. “These investments in Canada are a catalyst for job growth and the creation of countless opportunities, in our stores, in our company and with the many partners who work with us.”

You wouldn’t step onto a job site with someone you can’t trust. 

First West Capital believes the same reasoning applies to financing your construction business. They explained that their team has in-depth knowledge of how the industry operates and are committed to the long-term success of their clients.  

Steve Chen, vice president and head of First West Capital, explained that trust is a requirement  for the job site and it’s no different for finance. 

“You can’t document or put in the legal contracts every nook and cranny, every possibility that comes up, so you have to trust the people that you’re working with will do the right thing right at the end of the day,” said Chen. 

A partner that will be there

First West Capital understands the intricacies of construction work and has the risk appetite to finance it. Rather than just being a lender, they want to seek out firms that are looking for someone to help them grow. 

“Those that have gone through different financings, or needed financing to finance a larger project or a bigger order, understand that they need a financial partner who will be there throughout all their cycles and changes and that’s what I mean,” said Chen, “Risk appetite means that the money will be there when you need it.”

He explained that this means the First West Capital team will help their partners figure out cash flows and forecasts so they are on solid financial footing. They want to remove uncertainty. 

“For the right companies, we are the partner that will make sure that you have that piece figured out so that you don’t need to worry or second guess whether or not that lender will be there,” said Chen. “I think that’s a big thing because, for folks in the sector, they’re good at running their business, they’re good at whatever their expertise is. They know they’re going to make money. It’s just they need that financing help to make money because the dollars are big and the projects get larger and they need somebody there with them.”

Geoff Devereux, a director at First West Capital, recalled that this was the exact reason one of their former clients sought them out. A project had gone sideways, leaving them short of working capital. 

“We were able to understand that it was really a one-off kind of Black Swan type of event,” he said. “They have really strong management and we were able to come in to provide some additional financing to right-size their working capital on the back of that and fast forward and they are back in great shape. That’s an example of us putting our money where our mouth is.”

Devereux noted that traditionally in lending there is less appetite for this due to cautionary tales or the niche understanding required for the ebbs and flows of a project-based business.  But First West Capital can demonstrate the patience required of a lender or for managers who are doing all the right things.

Finding the right fit

Whether you are looking to buy your first building, finance a project or need extra equipment, First West Capital’s team wants to dig deep into how major financial decisions can help you thrive. The boutique firm of only seven people are specialists that are zeroing in those looking for growth.  

“We are here for your ongoing success,” said Chen. “We are looking beyond just the credit metrics to what will benefit the business most in the long term.”

If, in their opinion, the project doesn’t build value, if the margins are too thin, if project risk is high, if overruns seem likely, if the bids are too tight, they will express those views which could help a company think more deeply about a project. 

“But sometimes it really makes sense,” said Chen. “It’s a fantastic project, you’re expanding in the right areas. You’ve done all your homework and we want to be there for you to support you financially with that.”

He stressed that above all, they are looking for partners with a growth mindset and who are looking for a financial partner. 

“We want people who are looking for advice and are willing to spend the time and money investing in systems and processes that will elevate your business,” said Chen.

Green flags 

It also comes down to the right people. 

“A key thing for us is character,” said Devereux. “The character of the people we’re working with is paramount, the grit, resilience and hard-working nature of our clients.”

Other “green flags” that First West Capital looks for are a diversity of projects (size, type, location, customer), owners who delegate effectively, companies with strong systems, processes, and procedures, and long-term business planning.

Carmel Tang, operations advisor at First West Capital, noted that once the firm finds a company that’s a good fit, the partnership that’s formed is unique. 

 “What makes us really special and really unique is how much we work with our clients,” she said. “Working with First West Capital means you have a partner who will be responsive and understanding. I am Just so proud of the level of service and communication that we give to our clients. It really is a working relationship to try to make them as successful and I think that’s what really truly sets us apart.”

Connect with the team to see if First West Capital might be a good fit to achieve your growth goals. Here’s how to get in touch:

Steve Chen, CFA,VP and Head of First West Capital

c: 604 862 7564 e: 

610 – 1040 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC V6E 4H1

Geoff Devereux, Director, First West Capital

t: 604-335-1239  c 604-996-4581 e:

610 – 1040 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC V6E 4H1

Key Takeaways:

  • The new hospital campus is being designed and built through a progressive public-private partnership (P3) approach.
  • The new hospital will be home to one of Canada’s largest and most modern trauma centres, and will also provide advanced clinical care and education spaces.
  • The hospital is the largest-ever healthcare infrastructure project in Ottawa’s history, measuring over 2 million square feet.
  • After further discussions, the team plans to enter a fixed-price Project Agreement to design, build, finance, and maintain the project.

The Whole Story:

PCL/ED Joint Venture partners have signed a Development Phase Agreement (DPA) with Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) to build a new state-of-the-art hospital in Ottawa.

“The Ottawa Hospital Build Partners are proud to be invited to work with TOH and IO on such an incredibly important healthcare project in the National Capital Region,” said Bruce Sonnenberg, regional vice-president of PCL Constructors Inc. “We’re looking forward to leveraging our experience and innovation to help TOH not only provide cutting-edge medical care for generations to come, but to do so in a way that is both sustainable and accessible to all members of our Ottawa community.”

The new hospital campus is being designed and built through a progressive public-private partnership (P3) approach, designed to foster collaborative development with all partners.

“We are proud to have reached this significant milestone that will advance critical work for The Ottawa Hospital’s new campus,” said Wayne Ferguson, Senior Vice President & Ottawa Area Manager, EllisDon. “We are passionate about building with a purpose and look forward to working with our partners to deliver a health care facility that is innovative, welcoming, and makes a lasting, positive change for Ottawa and surrounding communities.”

The Ottawa Hospital Build Partners stated they plan to continue to work collaboratively with TOH, IO, and the Ministry of Health to finalize the design, pricing, schedule, risk parameters, and project requirements for the new hospital. Once those requirements have been met, the partners will enter a fixed-price Project Agreement with TOH to design, build, finance, and maintain the project.

The Ottawa Hospital Build Partner team includes:

·         Applicant leads: PCL Investments Inc & ED Capital Inc (collectively “The Ottawa Hospital Build Partners”)

·         Design team: Parkin Architects Ltd & Adamson Associates Architects

·         Construction team: PCL Constructors Canada Inc. and EllisDon Corporation Joint Venture

·         Financial advisor: PCL Investments Inc. & ED Capital Inc.

The new hospital will be home to one of Canada’s largest and most modern trauma centres, and will also provide advanced clinical care and education spaces. The hospital is the largest-ever healthcare infrastructure project in Ottawa’s history, measuring over 2 million square feet.

Construction is so much more than hammers, 2x4s and hard hats. Buildings are getting bigger and more complex. At the same time, the demand for projects to have better environmental and cultural outcomes is increasing. This requires more specialized roles. We have compiled a list of some classic construction careers alongside some emerging new ones that are sure to pique your interest.

And if you are looking a new career in construction or want to change roles, check out SiteJobs which features some of the best, high-level positions the industry has to offer.

Drone pilot

Most people pay for the privilege to play with drones. These workers make their living doing it. Contractors mostly use drones for photography. According to PCL, Aerial site photos and videos can help streamline inspections and site mapping, which helps construction companies identify problems on-site, track construction progress, assist with digital mapping and more. This can massively reduce costs for clients. On a recent SaskPower project in Regina, Saskatchewan, drones helped PCL cut initial inspection costs by 80%. The company also has a drone pilot named Mathew Hawkeye, which just sounds too perfect. 

BIM/VDC manager 

If you like building and exploring the digital world of video games, this might be the field for you. BIM is an architect’s superpower, allowing them to create virtual replicas of structures before a single brick is laid. It’s a digital playground where engineers, architects, and builders collaborate in real-time, making the construction process more efficient and reducing errors. And tools like drones, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and more are likely to make the world of digital buildings have an even more profound impact on the construction process and the entire lifespan of a structure. Who knows? Maybe in the coming years we will even be exploring digital building models with VR goggles on.

Building conservation

Crews prepare to store historic stone pieces as part of the Centre Block restoration project. – Government of Canada

As Canada continues its quest to reduce the environmental impact of buildings, upgrading our aging structures will become more and more critical. Algonquin College announced plans to launch a new program at its Perth campus that aims to produce a new generation of “carpenter-philosophers”. The program, the first of its kind in Canada, grants building conservation students an applied science degree. Students will learn about traditional building methods such as timber framing and log construction, as well as technical writing for reports and grant proposals.

Biologist/environmental consultant 

A snake experts offers their assistance at a TC Energy site. – TC Energy

Construction and critters often don’t mix, so experts have to help make sure their homes and habitats are disrupted as little as possible. This means carefully studying the potential impacts of proposed projects and coming up with mitigation plans. Sometimes this means rescuing hibernating snakes, helping craft wildlife bridges and scheduling work around bird nesting habits. TC Energy, for example, has full-time biologists that monitored snake activity in Southern Alberta.


Indigenous female ironworkers with Local 725 in Calgary recreate iconic “Lunch atop a Skyscraper”. – Ironworkers Local 725

This is probably the most iconic job in construction. It conjures the image of a worker in overalls and a hard hat expertly navigating giant steel beams high above some busy street. But there’s more to the job than that. Ironworkers do structural, reinforcing, ornamental and even fabricating work. They have a hand in shaping our biggest city’s skylines and even the small details on a metal staircase. You also get to stand atop some of the most iconic structures in the nation as they are going up. Wages range from $27 to $46 an hour

Cyber security

Because of remotely accessible systems, construction is particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks. Common types of cyberattacks in the industry include installing ransomware, data theft and fraudulent wire transfers. Some of the biggest builders in the nation have fallen victim, costing the sector millions. Recent years have seem the industry begin to harden their defences, including hiring penetration testers or a “red teams” to attack companies to find their vulnerabilities. EllisDon has a dedicated Cybersecurity team that oversees and orchestrates digital security probes its networks for vulnerabilities, educates and protects employees and subcontractors, and vets all digital platforms, employee devices, and third-party software. If you enjoy the cat and mouse game of trying to outsmart digital attacks, this could be the role for you.

Heavy equipment operator 

Remember playing in the sandbox with your Tonka trucks? Imagine doing that but way bigger and you get paid. Heavy equipment operators are experts at using backhoes, bulldozers, loaders and graders to excavate, move, load and grade earth, rock, gravel or other materials during construction and related activities. Depending on the province and your level of experience, these workers can make as much as $45-$57 an hour


This is one of hundreds of fossils unearthed during excavation work for cables and piping in Edmonton, Alta. – Chandos

You probably won’t be dodging traps like Indiana Jones, but you will get to connect with the past, ensure that cultural sites are respected and make historical discoveries. These experts are often called in to assess a site to determine if it’s likely that ancient remains or artifacts might be found and determine the correct actions to take if they are. For example, Last year when a construction crew began to dig beneath the asphalt of a Hydro-Québec parking lot in downtown Montreal weeks ago they found a stone house with a wood floor dating back to sometime between 1801 and 1825.

Key Takeaways:

  • The development phase is anticipated to take up to 20 months.
  • Once the development phase has concluded, Metrolinx will have the option to sign a final target-price agreement with TGP, which would include final agreements on detailed designs and a negotiated price.
  • The scope of work includes three km of an elevated guideway, five elevated stations, one emergency exit building, interface with the operations and maintenance storage facility as well as with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT Line 5 and sections of existing Metrolinx-owned rail corridor.

The Whole Story:

Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx have selected Trillium Guideway Partners (TGP) to deliver the Ontario Line Elevated Guideway and Stations contract. The team has signed a Development and Master Construction Agreement (DMCA) with Metrolinx, under a progressive design-build contract.

The Trillium Guideway Partners team includes:

Applicant Leads: Acciona Infrastructure Canada Inc. and Amico Major Projects Inc.

Design Team: WSP Canada Inc.

Construction Team: Acciona Infrastructure Canada Inc. and Amico Major Projects Inc.

The team was selected following an evaluation of proposals submitted in September 2023.

The DMCA incorporates a multi-stage design process called a development phase, according to the progressive design-build model. Officials say this phase allows for a collaborative approach between Metrolinx as the project owner and TGP as the contracting partner, who work together to finalize the scope, risk allocation and pricing of various elements of this contract.

A rendering shows one of the Ontario Line’s elevated guideways. – Metrolinx

The development phase is anticipated to take up to 20 months, though early works construction can commence during this phase. Once the development phase has concluded, Metrolinx will have the option to sign a final target-price agreement with TGP, which would include final agreements on detailed designs and a negotiated price.

The scope of work includes three kilometres of an elevated guideway (bridge structures); five elevated stations (Riverside-Leslieville, Gerrard, Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park, Science Centre), one emergency exit building, interface with the operations and maintenance storage facility as well as with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT Line 5 and sections of existing Metrolinx-owned rail corridor where Ontario Line trains will operate.  

The Ontario Line project is being delivered through various public-private partnership (P3), progressive design-build and traditional procurement contracts.

Key Takeaways:

  • France-based Technip Energies’ solution will be Powered by the Shell CANSOLV CO2 capture system.
  • The plant will eventually capture and store an estimated 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.
  • Heidelberg Materials anticipates carbon capture will begin in late 2026.

The Whole Story:

France-based Technip Energies has been awarded a front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract for the carbon capture technology for Heidelberg Materials’ Edmonton carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) project. 

The project is expected to be the first full-scale application of CCUS in the cement sector.

Powered by the Shell CANSOLV CO2 capture system, the Technip Energies solution which will be the basis of the FEED study, is based on regenerable amine technology.

“We are excited to take this latest step in our journey to produce the world’s first net-zero cement,” said Joerg Nixdorf, vice president cement operations, Northwest Region for Heidelberg Materials North America. “With each milestone we come closer to realizing our vision of leading the decarbonization of the cement industry.”

Heidelberg Materials North America says it will be commissioning the world’s first net-zero cement plant at its Edmonton location by adding CCUS technology to the facility. The plant will eventually capture and store an estimated 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, which is the equivalent of taking 300,000 cars off the road annually. Subject to finalization of federal and provincial funding agreements, the company anticipates carbon capture to begin in late 2026.

“We are pleased to have been selected by Heidelberg Materials North America to provide the FEED of this groundbreaking project in Canada,” said Christophe Malaurie, SVP decarbonization solutions for Technip Energies. “Leveraging our carbon capture solution powered by the Shell CANSOLV CO2 capture system, we are committed to supporting the decarbonization of the cement industry and Heidelberg towards the production of net-zero cement.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Ottawa is contributing $2 billion to BC Builds, a new initiative from the Province of B.C. to build more affordable housing. 
  • With the federal financing in place, it is anticipated a minimum of between 8,000 and 10,000 homes for people with middle incomes will initially be built over the first five years of the program. 
  • The province also announced BC Builds’ fourth site, owned by the City of Vancouver, located at 560 Davie St. and 1210 Seymour St. 

The Whole Story: 

BC Builds, a recently launched initiative by the Province of B.C., is set to receive a boost with an extra $2 billion in funding from the federal government. This additional financing aims to support the initiative in constructing a substantial number of affordable homes for individuals with middle incomes residing and working in British Columbia.

“All levels of government need to work together to solve the housing crisis,” said Premier David Eby. “With the federal government’s contribution and partnership toward BC Builds, we can help build more homes people can actually afford. That’s good news for our economy and for our future, but most importantly it’s good news for British Columbians looking for a decent place to live.”

BC Builds was launched earlier this month. It’s an initiative delivered through BC Housing that leverages government, community and non-profit owned and under-used land to speed up the delivery of housing and help bring costs more in line with what middle-income households earn. All BC Builds projects have a target of middle-income households spending no more than 30% of their income on rent.

“Canada needs more homes that the middle class can afford. That’s what today’s historic partnership with British Columbia is all about,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Our investment, through the BC Builds Program, will use public land to create more affordable housing, bring down the cost of construction and ensure that we build more homes faster so that Canadians – from teachers, to nurses, to construction workers – can afford to stay in the communities where they work.”

In addition to the $2-billion financing from the Government of Canada, BC Builds is supported through an investment of $950 million from the Province to ensure units are available at below-market rates, as well as $2 billion in provincial low-cost construction financing. The BC Builds team will help streamline approvals for projects seeking federal financing to meet the 12-18-month concept-to-construction BC Builds timeline.

BC Builds has established 20 initial sites through partnerships with local governments, First Nations and non-profit organizations to support the development of housing for middle-income households throughout the province.

With the federal financing in place and through the 20 initial BC Builds sites, it is anticipated a minimum of between 8,000 and 10,000 homes for people with middle incomes will initially be built over the first five years of the program. The total number of units is expected to grow as more partners and land are secured.

“Teachers, nurses, construction workers and other middle-income people need more housing options in B.C., and with several BC Builds sites identified and dozens of interested partners, we are well on our way to getting the additional housing they need built,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “We are in a housing crisis that requires support from all levels of government. BC Builds will ensure that middle-income housing will get built faster and more in line with what households earn.”

The province also announced BC Builds’ fourth site, owned by the City of Vancouver, located at 560 Davie St. and 1210 Seymour St. The site will include:

  • A nine-storey concrete building with 112 new co-operative homes for middle-income households in Vancouver.
  • A minimum of 20% of units must rent at 20% below market, with a goal of delivering even more units at below-market rates.
  • The building will be located at the corner of Davie and Seymour streets, the last underdeveloped parcel of land in Yaletown. A premium location in downtown Vancouver, the 112 new co-op homes will be located across from Emery Barnes Park near several bus routes.
  • The mixed-use proposed project will include co-op homes of studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites, and will be safe, secure and permanently affordable. The building will be designed to “passive house” standards, which have high energy efficiency.
  • Construction is expected to begin in summer 2024.

“Middle-income earners are the economic engine of our city. It’s beneficial to all Vancouverites that they have a place to call home in the city where they work,” said Ken Sim, mayor of Vancouver. “The $2-billion of additional funding from the federal government will allow more affordable homes in our city to be built faster and signals that through the partnership of all levels of government, we can tackle the housing crisis.”

The site is in addition to three sites announced on Feb. 13, 2024, comprising more than 400 housing units in the Cowichan Valley, Gibsons and North Vancouver.

Key Takeaways:

  • Lafarge Canada’s St-Constant Cement Plant in Quebec now only produces greener cement with fewer CO2 emissions.
  • The company projects a reduction of about 60,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2024.
  • This equates to CO2 emissions from 16,267 passenger vehicles or 877,972 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

The whole Story:

Lafarge Canada’s St-Constant Cement Plant in Quebec has fully transitioned production from traditional general-use cement to OneCem, a greener product that lowers CO2 emissions.

“We are excited to take another crucial step in our sustainability journey,” said David Redfern, president & CEO of Lafarge Canada (East). “The transition to OneCem production at our St-Constant plant indicates Lafarge Canada’s nonstop commitment to driving positive change within our construction industry. Our teams have been engaged in reducing our products’ environmental impact by embracing greener practices and materials.”

OneCem is a limestone blended cement manufactured using less clinker than traditional Portland cement. By converting the St-Constant Plant’s production to OneCem, Lafarge Canada projects a reduction of about 60,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2024. This equates to CO2 emissions from 16,267 passenger vehicles or 877,972 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

The St-Constant plant has been driving sustainability and innovation in cement production in Quebec for years. The plant has implemented initiatives such as circularity through ECOcycle, as well as collaborating with organizations like CarbiCrete and Patio Drummond to facilitate the production of zero-carbon concrete.

“Our team at St-Constant is proud to be taking actions towards sustainability. With this transition, we are not only reducing our carbon footprint but also aligning with our organization’s drive to be a leader for sustainable construction throughout Eastern Canada,” said Andrew Stewart, vice president of cement, Lafarge Canada (East). “This is a significant development, and we are eager to contribute to the realization of a net-zero future.”

Key Takeaways:

  • $13.8 million will be distributed to the towns of Banff, Sylvan Lake, Bow Island, Westlock, Smoky Lake and the Village of Duchess.
  • The plan is to fast track a combined total of over 400 homes over the next three years. 
  • Officials expect the work will help spur the construction of more than 3,100 homes over the next decade.

The Whole Story:

The Government of Canada and the Towns of Banff, Sylvan Lake, Bow Island, Westlock, Smoky Lake and the Village of Duchess announced that they reached agreements to fast track a combined total of over 400 homes over the next three years. 

Officials expect the work will help spur the construction of more than 3,100 homes over the next decade.

These agreements under the Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF), will provide a combined total of over $13.8 million to eliminate barriers to building homes. 

Banff will receive more than $4.6 million to support its Action Plan which commits to five local initiatives that enable a variety of housing forms and densities.

The funding will enable the reduction of parking requirements, as well as updates to the density intensification policy. Banff’s Action Plan aims to encourage the development of accessory dwelling units by providing financial support and streamlined processing and will incentivize more housing development by creating a suite of financial tools such as tax strategies and fee waivers. Additionally, Banff will unlock efficiencies in the town’s permitting process.

HAF asks for innovative action plans from local governments, and once approved, provides upfront funding to ensure the timely building of new homes, as well as additional funds upon delivering results. Local governments are encouraged to think big and be bold in their approaches, which could include accelerating project timelines, allowing increased housing density, and encouraging affordable housing units.

“Today’s announcement will help fast-track a combined total of over 400 homes in Banff, Sylvan Lake, Bow Island, Westlock, Duchess and Smoky Lake over the next three years and over 3,100 homes over the next decade,” said Sean Fraser, minister of housing, infrastructure and communities. “By working with cities, towns, municipalities, mayors, and all levels of government, we are helping to get more homes built for Canadians at prices they can afford.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Freed Developments plans to build an $800-million tower in Toronto.
  • The building will include hotel and residential units as well as a restaurant.
  • The Freed Hotel and Residences is scheduled to begin sales in March 2024 and will be located at 240 Adelaide Street West.

The Whole Story:

Peter Freed of Freed Developments has announced plans to build the Freed Hotel and Residences tower in Toronto.

The developer says the $800-million skyscraper is being designed by Chicago-based tall building experts Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG), known for the next world’s tallest and skyscraper Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, as well as Central Park Tower in New York.

The project will feature 100 five star luxury hotel rooms and 400 luxury condominiums with a skybar/restaurant on the 63rd floor, boutique spa, and a 10,000 sq ft Katsuya Restaurant on the 2nd floor.

“As the largest owner and operator of the Ontario hotel and resorts portfolio, this project is a testament to my profound love for Toronto. Freed Hotel and Residences represents a groundbreaking moment for Freed Developments with the opportunity to merge art, culture, and sophistication through hotel-style living,” said Peter Freed, founder and CEO, Freed Developments. “Building on Freed’s 30 year legacy of best-in-class projects, Freed Hotel and Residences will proudly display a captivating piece of artwork by Takashi Murakami, adding a unique cultural dimension to this venture, while also bringing forward the first-ever Katsuya Restaurant to Canada which will further enhance the city’s culinary landscape, and best-in-class hotel experiences for both residences and guests.”

Sam Nazarian’s sbe, a lifestyle hospitality company that develops, manages and operates restaurants, lounges and nightclubs, announced the project will also include the very first Katsuya restaurant in Canada on the second floor of the Freed Hotel and Residences, expected to launch in Fall 2028.

Freed Developments Announces 5-Star Luxury Hotel and Residences Project, An $800M Skyscraper Set To Transform The Toronto Skyline (CNW Group/Freed Developments)

“Freed Hotel and Residences will bring an unprecedented sophistication and luxury that is a signature of Freed Developments in Toronto. Located at the corner of Adelaide and Duncan Streets, the tower will offer residents and visitors spectacular views of the city and Lake Ontario. The tower shines against the city’s already impressive skyline, becoming an instant icon.” said AS+GG Partner Gordon Gill, FAIA. “The formal geometry of the tower is defined by both its arrival and skyline expressions. Diamond shaped facets create a distinctive arrival and retail experience at street level, while the complimentary faceted silhouette of the tower’s top creates an iconic identity within the Toronto skyline. The tower boasts luxurious hotel and residential functions with abundant amenities including terraced, outdoor garden spaces.”

Toronto’s DesignAgency will lead the interior design of Freed Hotel and Residences.

“Freed Hotel and Residences is already an iconic project. By assembling a world-class creative team, Peter Freed has set the stage for innovation and imagination on a grand scale. Together with these exceptional collaborators, DesignAgency is excited to explore new realms of possibility to create immersive interiors that exude great wonder and style,” says Anwar Mekhayech, Founding Partner, DesignAgency.

Key features of the Freed Hotel and Residences project include:

  • Freed Hotel Debut: Freed Hotel and Residences marks the introduction of the first-ever Freed hotel in Canada.
  • Multi-Functional Tower: The project will feature 100 hotel rooms and 400 condominiums with a Skybar/restaurant on the 63rd floor.
  • Katsuya, Contemporary Japanese Restaurant: The hotel will house the Katsuya Japanese restaurant by Sam Nazarian’s Disruptive Group by sbe on the second floor.
  • Takashi Murakami Art Integration: Takashi Murakami’s “Together with the flower parent and child” artwork will be featured inside the lobby of the first-ever Freed Hotel and Residences.
  • Amenities include: 62nd floor Sky Lobby with grand staircase leading to 63rd floor restaurant and bar featuring 70 ft tall space below a sloping skylight, boutique spa, terrace and outdoor garden, private spaces for entertaining and dining, fitness and yoga studio, private theater room, valet parking and full-service concierge, and more.

Over the past 30 years, Freed Developments has completed $10 billion of developed projects in Toronto. Its portfolio includes luxurious modern condominium projects, F&B ventures, resort communities, and commercial spaces, led by the Founder and CEO Peter Freed. Some notable projects are the Art Shoppe Lofts and Condos in collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld, Seventy5 Portland with globally renowned designer Philippe Starck, Fashion House on King Street West, and the Thompson Hotel.

In addition, Freed Hotel & Resorts is now the largest owner and operator of hotel and resort communities in Canada, which includes properties at Muskoka Bay Resort, Deerhurst Resort, Horseshoe Resort, and Blue Mountain Resort.

The Freed Hotel and Residences is scheduled to begin sales in March 2024 and will be located at 240 Adelaide Street West.

Is there anything more iconic to the construction sector that a big excavator moving some dirt?

Behind all that heavy machinery are the suppliers that make sure those machines get where they need to be and stay running. Canada is no slouch when it comes to the heavy equipment sector. In fact, it’s home to some of the largest equipment dealers in the world.

The following list includes just a few major heavy equipment players that call Canada home.

Cooper Equipment Rentals

Established in 1972, Cooper Equipment Rentals Limited is a full-service construction equipment rental company, servicing contractors across Canada. With more than 70 branches in six provinces, Cooper specializes in the rental of compact, aerial, heavy construction, pump and power, climate control and trench safety equipment. They also have their sights set on future technology, recently announcing an exclusive partnership with risk-mitigation technology platform Brickeye, a leading construction technology company focused on risk mitigation applications. Cooper is now the sole rental provider of LumiNode and LumiSense systems for ambient monitoring applications across the country. These advanced remote monitoring devices track ambient temperature and humidity on sites.

Finning Cat

Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines, and Low Carbon Innovation, takes one of Finning’s mobile training units for a spin. – Finning

B.C.-based Finning‘s history goes way back. Just last year, the company celebrated its 90th anniversary. Started by Earl B. Finning in a shed near Vancouver’s Canadian National railway station, the company has gone on to become the world’s largest Caterpillar dealer with operations in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. It also employs more than 13,000 people worldwide. Locally, they are working to train the next generation of heavy equipment operators. They recently announced a partnership with a First Nations Group to provide mobile simulators with operator training programs.

Ault Industries

When Jackson Ault saw that that parts of Quebec were not getting their equipment needs met, he did what any good entrepreneur would do. He learned to speak french and moved to the region, founding Ault. The company is an exclusive distributor of McCloskey International, Lippmann, Superior, Ecoverse and McCloskey Washing Systems. They have grown into McCloskey International’s and Lippmann’s largest dealer in the world. And this past November, Ault was acquired by Alta Equipment Group Inc. for $36 million as part of the group’s expansion into Canada.

SMS Equipment

SMS delivers some massive machinery to Copper Mountain mine near Princeton, B.C. – SMS

SMS Equipment was formed in 2008 by the consolidation of three Canadian Heavy Equipment companies (Federal Equipment, Coneco Equipment and Transwest Mining Systems). Their team strategy has paid off. 15 years later, they are one of top heavy equipment dealers in the country and the largest independent Komatsu dealer globally. Today, SMS has 2,600 employees at 42 locations from Anchorage, Alaska, to Paradise, Nfld. the Komatsu PC8000-11 is the largest surface mining excavator on the market.

Equipment Sales & Service

Another elder on this list, Equipment Sales & Service Limited (ESS) was founded in an Ontario automotive garage in 1946 by Bill Willis. 75 years later they have kept it in the family. The company is now in its third generation as a private family-owned business.  Today it operates 12 branches across Canada, representing multiple OEM lines supporting the construction, mining, forestry, foundation and drilling industries. The company is the longest distributor of Link-Belt equipment in the world, one of the largest aftermarket suppliers of construction parts in Canada, the largest Berco dealer in Canada and the largest Esco wear parts dealer in North America.


Brandt’s team helps raise money for children battling cancer during an event. – Brandt

The Brandt Group of Companies — headquartered in Regina, Sask. – is a privately owned manufacturing and distribution company that serves a growing international audience in industries such as agriculture, construction, forestry, rail, mining, steel, transportation, material handling, and energy. The company boasts more than 6000 employees and more than 180 locations in Canada, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. More than just a major player in the heavy equipment world, Brandt is one of Canada’s largest privately owned companies. Just this winter, Brandt celebrated the grand opening of three state-of-the-art facilities in Moncton, Fredericton, and Edmundston in New Brunswick.

Key Takeaways:

  • The collapse investigation has concluded and a report has been submitted to the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) for charge assessment for criminal negligence causing death.
  • The 2021 collapse killed five people, including four workers at the construction site and one office worker in a nearby building.
  • The Kelowna RCMP added that it is unable to provide additional details with respect to the investigation or findings.

The Whole Story:

The Kelowna RCMP has wrapped its investigation into a deadly 2021 crane collapse, recommending criminal charges.

Kelowna RCMP announced that its Serious Crime Unit has completed its comprehensive investigation into the collapse and a report has been submitted to the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) for charge assessment for criminal negligence causing death.

They did not indicate who the charges could be for.

On the morning of July 12, 2021, a crane collapsed in the downtown core of Kelowna, resulting in the deaths of four people on site and one office worker in a nearby building. The crane was being dismantled at the Brooklyn tower portion of the Bernard Block development. 

The RCMP stated that the extremely complex investigation needed to be done methodically and thoroughly in order to protect its integrity. They added that they will be working closely with the BCPS to ensure prosecutors are best equipped on the facts of the case to make an informed decision on charges.

The crane collapsed while it was being worked on by crews. – Kelowna RCMP

“This investigation included dozens of police officers and countless hours of evidence gathering and analysis,” said Kelowna Superintendent Kara Triance. “The gravity of this incident and the associated work to understand what happened has been tremendous. We will work to support our partners and our community through the next steps.”

The Kelowna RCMP added that it is unable to provide additional details with respect to the investigation or findings.

It isn’t the only legal trouble to stem from the incident. The spouse of a man killed by a crane collapse in Kelowna has filed a lawsuit alleging negligence caused her husband’s death. 

According to a notice of claim filed in the Supreme Court of B.C., Helen Furuya is suing Stemmer Construction and other unnamed companies and individuals for the death of her husband, Brad Zawislak. The senior technologist was working in a Kelowna office building when a catastrophic failure caused the construction crane to fall.

Key Takeaways:

  • Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said earlier this week he was against government support for new road infrastructure.
  • He said this was because more roads encourages more car use, something Ottawa is looking to move away from.
  • This week he sought to clarify those comments, saying he was against federal support for “large” road projects.
  • The comments drew strong criticism from provincial leaders as well as the construction sector.

The Whole Story:

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has clarified controversial comments about road infrastructure investment after drawing heavy criticism from political leaders and the construction sector. 

On Monday, Guilbeault said the federal government will stop investing in new road infrastructure. However he has since clarified his comments, stressing that he meant to say Ottawa will not be funding “large” road projects. 

“Of course we’re funding roads. We have programs to fund roads,” he told reporters, adding that the federal government can be counted on to support provinces paying for maintenance. 

However, he noted that Ottawa has decided that existing road infrastructure “is perfectly adequate to respond to the needs we have.”

Guilbeault explained that the federal government’s goal is to get people out of their cars and into public transportation.

He told reporters that Quebec City’s long-proposed third link is an example of a project that will not receive funding from Ottawa.

“What we have said, and maybe I should have been more specific, is that we don’t have funds for large projects like the ‘3eme lien’ that the CAQ has been trying to do for many years,” he said of Quebec’s provincial government.

Criticism from industry

The Canadian Construction Association noted that a report by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) estimates that it will require $107,000 in public investments per new housing unit. This amounts to a total of $620 billion in public funding needed – an additional $375 billion beyond the current planned budget.

“These new communities need new roads. People need to be connected to their jobs, their schools, and their hospitals,” said Mary Van Buren, CCA president. “A growing population has growing demands. We not only need the road networks to support their movement; we also need to shore up our trade infrastructure, which includes roads, bridges and highways.”

The CCA added that Canada has been under-investing in its trade-enabling infrastructure for 15 years and builders need the federal government to partner with industry and work with municipal and provincial governments to build a strong foundation for a stronger Canada.

In response to the minister’s initial comments, the Ontario Road Builders Association (ORBA) stated that he did not understand the importance of Canadian infrastructure. 

“While the Minister’s previous actions – including an attempt to encroach on provincial jurisdiction over infrastructure development recently deemed unconstitutional – demonstrate a bias against development, it is shocking to see the Minister make these comments on behalf of the government, suggesting a naive understanding of Canada’s infrastructure needs at a time of record immigration and a push towards removing barriers to trade and economic growth,” said the group, adding that his comments were “elitist” and “out of touch” with the reality of everyday life in suburban and rural communities. 

They noted that the road building industry employs more than 56,000 workers in Ontario alone and earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s spoke at ORBA’s 97th Annual Convention, emphasizing the importance of road and highway infrastructure for Canadian prosperity.

“We call on Minister Guilbeault to stop playing politics and join us and provincial governments across Canada to get shovels in the ground on much needed projects in Ontario and across the country,” said the group. 

LiUNA International Vice President and Canadian Director Joseph Mancinelli called the minister’s comments “beyond disappointing”. 

“Growing regions require resilient infrastructure, including our roads,” he said in a statement on social media. “This has a direct impact on our economy, jobs, connectivity and the strength and function of our communities. Enough delays and political games. It’s time to get shovels in the ground.” 

Provincial leaders weigh in

Various political leaders took to social media to give their response to the comments.

Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said in a post on X that Mr. Guilbeault “won’t be happy until we’re living back in mud huts.”

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe also posted on social media, saying this: “Guilbeault wants us all to walk everywhere. The Trudeau government gets more out of touch with reality every day.”

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith suggested the minister is out of touch with the transportation needs of Canadians.

“Does this minister understand that most Canadians don’t live in downtown Montreal? Most of us can’t just head out the door in the snow and rain and just walk 10km to work each day,” said Smith.

Developers and other project owners in pursuit of low-carbon construction methods are increasingly choosing mass timber for their projects. But to do so in larger and taller buildings, they must reassure civic leaders, fire and rescue services and insurance underwriters—along with the public—that these projects are fire safe.

New research, supported by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), Canadian Wood Council and federal and provincial governments, is doing just that. A recent series of tests, dubbed the Mass Timber Demonstration Fire Test Program, show, even in worst-case fire scenarios, mass timber buildings perform similarly to noncombustible construction. 

Sparking Questions: Are bigger and taller mass timber buildings fire safe? 

The calls to construct more buildings with mass timber to help tackle climate change are growing. This is true here in B.C., across the country and around the world, demonstrated by the growing announcements of ever-taller wood buildings

It’s not just the building industry touting mass timber’s benefits. In a recent report, Canada’s biggest bank points out that constructing taller wood buildings and swapping concrete and steel with mass timber represents a potential 12% to 25% drop in carbon emissions

So far, Canada has successfully completed more than 660 mass timber projects, with B.C. and Quebec accounting for 257 and 184 projects, respectively. Ontario has at least 90 mass timber projects. 

“In B.C., we do have a precedent of building taller wood buildings in several jurisdictions through an alternate solution process. Taller, more dense mass timber buildings can help play a greater role in addressing both climate and affordable housing challenges,” says Shawn Keyes, executive director of WoodWorks BC and professional engineer.  

“But to open this market further, we need to support ongoing fire research, like this [Mass Timber Demonstration Fire Test Program] to reassure stakeholders and further document mass timber’s fire safety. This can help support the evolution of the building code at the national and provincial levels to allow for even taller mass timber buildings.”  

Crews construct a mass timber structure for fire testing.

Keyes points out this recent series of mass timber fire tests adds to a growing body of research proving that low-carbon, engineered wood products are fire safe. In the event of a fire, previous testing has shown mass timber products char on the outside, forming a protective layer for the unburned wood below the char layer, which retains structural strength.  

For example, in a previous fire resistance test, when a mass timber panel (five-ply, cross-laminated timber) wall was subjected to extremely high temperatures in a standard fire scenario, its structural capacity withstood the exposure for over three hours—longer than building codes require. This was the case even when it was not encapsulated with a fire-resistive layer.  

B.C. is a leader in mass timber, with legislation that incentivizes the use of wood in publicly funded buildings. The provincial building code permits the construction of six-storey wood-frame and mass timber residential buildings and some municipalities have adopted the 2020 National Building Code which permits the construction of 12-storey mass timber buildings. 

These tests are worst-case fire scenarios designed to demonstrate how mass timber responds to severe fire conditions. Even in the extremely rare condition where sprinklers have failed and fire fighters are unable to reach the fire, the mass timber structure begins to put itself out once the building contents have burned away. 

Marc Alam, Senior Manager, Codes and Standards for the Canadian Wood Council

Wood engineering and fire experts believe this latest round of fire tests provides strong evidence that the code can further evolve to allow for more exposed wood and taller mass timber 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,” explains Marc Alam, Senior Manager, Codes and Standards for the Canadian Wood Council. 

Five fire tests: understanding the scenarios and the bottom-line results 

The Mass Timber Demonstration Fire Test Program—using a two-storey, 334 square-metre (3,600 square-foot) mass timber structure—is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive mass timber fire test series to date. The bottom-line results, complemented by expert analysis, show that mass timber is safe, even in rare instances of serious, unattended fires. 

“These tests are worst-case fire scenarios designed to demonstrate how mass timber responds to severe fire conditions. Even in the extremely rare condition where sprinklers have failed and fire fighters are unable to reach the fire, the mass timber structure begins to put itself out once the building contents have burned away,” says Alam. 

“The bottom-line results and what these extreme tests show is, even under those rare conditions, the mass timber fire decays and begins to put itself out after ignition,” Alam adds. 

Held in Ottawa in the summer of 2022, more than 150 experts from across Canada, including fire officials, building regulators, insurance industry representatives, engineers and architects, as well as wood industry and NRC fire research experts, witnessed the fire testing firsthand. Several national consulting firms provided expert analysis, while suppliers from across Canada provided the mass timber materials for the test structure.  

“These tests are giving municipalities, code officials, fire service professionals 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. It is becoming clearer through this research that mass timber buildings perform well and these buildings aren’t going to be any more difficult to put out a fire than a steel or a concrete building when built to best practice standards,” says Steven Craft, a fire engineering expert and founding principal at CHM Fire Consultants Ltd., one of the firms contributing to the fire test analysis and final report. 

Here’s a summary of the five test scenarios: 

Test # and Date: Test 1 (July 7, 2022)

Test Type: Completed residential suite: A code-prescribed solution for noncombustible construction 

Location: 2nd storey residential Suite B 

Description: The first test involved a fire in a fully furnished residential suite as a baseline scenario representing a National Building Code prescribed solution for noncombustible construction permitted for a tall building. The test provides a baseline scenario for comparison purposes, representing an acceptable solution of the National Building Code (e.g., a code-prescribed solution) permitted for a high building of noncombustible construction. Three of the four interior walls were finished with plywood. The ceiling was finished with fire-retardant-treated plywood. The floor and all structural elements are protected and did not contribute to the fire. 

Test # and Date: Test 2 (July 14, 2022) 

Test Type: Completed residential suite: Exposed mass timber

Location: 2nd storey residential Suite A 

Description: The second test shows the performance of exposed mass timber in a realistic occupied residential scenario for direct comparison with Test 1, the code-prescribed solution for noncombustible construction. The side-by-side comparison of an identical space with identical fuel load and ventilation conditions in Test 1 gives a performance comparison between a fire compartment in a building of non-combustible construction and one with exposed mass timber construction. 

Test # and Date: Test 3 (Sept. 29, 2022) 

Test Type: Construction site: Garbage bin fire source 

Location: 2nd storey residential Suite B 

Description: The third test shows the performance of exposed mass timber during a construction site fire (severe garbage can fire). In this scenario the floor, ceiling and one wall are exposed mass timber. Other compartment walls are protected with gypsum. 

Test # and Date: Test 4 (Sept. 15, 2022) 

Test Type: Construction site: Exposed mass timber 

Location: 2nd storey residential Suite C 

Description: The fourth test shows the performance of exposed mass timber in a realistic but severe construction site scenario. The fuel load included wood cribs in addition to light wood framing installed in a typical residential suite configuration that had not yet been protected by gypsum board.

Test # and Date: Test 5 (June 22, 2022) 

Test Type: Completed building: Open plan office floor with exposed mass timber 

Location: Full 1st storey 

Description: The fifth test shows fire performance and dynamics in a typical occupied open-office space in a mass timber building. The space is much larger than previous tests with a larger footprint as well as a higher floor to ceiling height. 

Common findings in all five tests 

Craft points to some common and promising findings across all five fire scenarios, which are further elaborated on in the technical report.    

In all five tests, the test mass timber structure remained stable and solid enduring the cumulative effects of five severe fire tests with a total fire exposure of 19 hours, and the stair shaft was not adversely affected in any test. 

While some exposed CLT ceilings showed some delamination in the cooling period, this did not cause any re-ignition or fire regrowth. 

The average char depths in the exposed mass timber members were well within the two-hour fire-resistance rating in all the tests. 

What do these results mean for mass timber construction?  

Although there isn’t a quick and simple solution when it comes to fire testing and safety, these test results are giving us additional and valuable data points. According to Craft, these data sets complement previous testing that has shown mass timber buildings can be built to provide good fire safety.  

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

These latest tests go further to specifically show how open plan workplaces with exposed mass timber—an increasingly popular trend in office design—are fire safe.   

“In the open office floor plan scenario, the test shows the fire quickly died down on its own. Once all the fuel load was used up—basically the furnishings—the fire decays. 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,” Craft points out.  

Similar to past mass timber fire tests, Craft adds, these tests reinforce how mass timber performs differently than light-frame wood construction. Mass timber’s inherent natural resistance to fire, paired with good fire design, makes the fire performance of mass timber buildings comparable to noncombustible steel and concrete buildings.  

What do these results mean for building codes and insurers?  

To build taller than 12 storeys with mass timber—outside of an alternative solution process—requires a change in the building code at the national and provincial levels. These recent fire test results open the possibility to both. 

“These robust mass timber fire tests give developers and design teams good, solid justification to go above what the code requires and use these test results as part of their alternative means submission,” explains Alam. 

Eventually, Craft, Alam, and Keyes see these tests helping to evolve the national, and subsequent provincial codes, beyond the current height and encapsulation restrictions.  

The results can also offer more reassurances to underwriters, and help them better understand mass timber’s fire performance properties to potentially lower the cost associated with insuring mass timber buildings.  

Insurance underwriting has emerged as the most difficult challenge for both mass timber building construction and occupancy insurance, according to the recent Royal Bank report. For the most part, mass timber buildings require a customized policy, which adds to a project’s final cost, and is ultimately passed down to the owner or end buyer. 

“I believe there is an increasing body of insurers who are becoming more accepting and understanding of the differences in mass timber fire behaviour, particularly how it differs from light-frame wood construction. Our hope is that this type of testing can begin to answer their questions and eventually help standardize premiums and bring down insurance costs,” says Keyes. 

In many respects, B.C. is leading when it comes to mass timber construction. After bringing to market Brock Commons, the first 18-storey timber hybrid building in the world, the province has seen rapid growth in the number of taller mass timber buildings constructed, he points out. 

“I anticipate the Province, and the broader industry, will benefit from this comprehensive fire testing as the results are used to streamline building codes, expanding the use of wood to help tackle climate change and boost the construction of more sustainable, affordable housing.” 

To view and download the full technical report click here

Researchers conduct fire tests on mass timber builders as part of Mass Timber Demonstration Fire Test Program.