Preferred systems, trackwork team selected for SkyTrain work

Key Takeaways:

  • The team includes Surrey-based contractor and SkyTrain construction veteran Western Pacific Enterprises. It also includes design, engineering and project management firm AtkinsRéalis.
  • The Surrey Langley SkyTrain project is a 16-kilometre extension of the Expo Line from King George Station to Langley City Centre
  • It is the third and final contract for the project. Major construction on Surrey Langley Skytrain is expected to begin this year.

The Whole Story:

B.C. has selected a preferred proponent team to design and build the systems and trackwork for the Surrey Langley SkyTrain extension project.

Transit Integrators BC has been invited to enter into final contract negotiations. The team is comprised of:

Transit Integrators BC will start initial design work and planning for the systems and trackwork of the project. Western Pacific Enterprises Ltd. is a Surrey-based company that has contributed to previous SkyTrain projects, including the original Expo Line, Millennium Line, Canada Line and the Evergreen extension.

Works related to the guideway and stations components of the project are underway along the new SkyTrain route. This includes work to relocate power lines and prepare for the start of major construction this year.

A rendering shows one of the project’s station designs. – Province of B.C.

The Surrey Langley SkyTrain project is a 16-kilometre extension of the Expo Line from King George Station to Langley City Centre, the first rapid-transit expansion south of the Fraser River in 30 years.

Once complete, the project will provide transportation for people in Surrey, Langley and across Metro Vancouver. Officials say passengers will be able to travel between Langley City and Surrey Centre in approximately 22 minutes and between Langley and downtown Vancouver in just over an hour.

The Surrey Langley SkyTrain project is being delivered through three separate contracts. In April 2024, the province announced the selection of South Fraser Station Partners to design and build eight new stations for the project, including cycling and walking paths around the new stations.

In March 2024, the province announced that SkyLink Guideway Partners has been chosen as the preferred proponent to design, build and finance the elevated guideway and associated roadworks, utilities and active transportation elements of the project.

Requests for proposals for all three phases were issued in early 2023 and formal contract announcements are anticipated in the coming months. Major construction on Surrey Langley Skytrain is expected to begin this year.

Key Takeaways:

  • As projects get more complex, collaboration and technology are becoming more of a necessity to achieve success.
  • Some industry leaders are moving towards standardizing components so the process can be sped up and industrialized.
  • Panelists strongly encouraged government officials, trade contractors, project owners, general contractors and more to engage with each other early, listen and better understand each other’s needs.
  • Having a consistent regulatory framework that is not constantly being changed would assist builders in finding more efficiencies and industrializing processes.

The Whole Story:

B.C. builders and aspiring tradespeople got a glimpse into the future of construction this month as industry leaders gathered at Pitt Meadows Plumbing & Mechanical’s massive industrialized construction headquarters in Maple Ridge, B.C. for the second annual Future of Work event. 

The festivities included a panel of experts sharing their thoughts on how collaboration can help accelerate innovation and improve the construction process. Attendees heard from Massive Canada CEO Gaetan Royer, Pitt Meadows Plumbing’s owner Steve Robinson, Turner senior project manager Kristine Szeto, City of Vancouver plumbing and mechanical inspections manager Phil White and ETRO Construction president Mike Maierle.

Robinson, who has led Pitt Meadows to embrace prefabrication, robotics, digital design and other technology, spoke about the role these innovations can play in the process.

“I think the big thing that the industry generally—whether it’s the mechanical industry, electrical or even the big GCs—needs to understand is that some of these next-generation technologies are allowing for a very quick, easy and fast generation of a totally collaborative model. And that’s without multiple layers of management by multiple people,” he said.  “The reality is there is a huge opportunity available to totally collaborate on what the finished system looks like. This is what the reality is today, and we need to just embrace it.”

The off-site construction approach has been embraced by B.C. based prefabricated mass timber company Massive Canada. Royer explained that his goal at Massive Canada is to move as much of MEP off-site and he believes that plumbing contractors, mechanical contractors and electrical contractors should try to do the same.

“Why? Well it’s the highest cost item for a project in most multi-family buildings like a six-story, apartment building. It’s 50% of the cost and It’s mostly repeatable stuff,” explained Royer. “We need to standardize and industrialize. The only way to do that is to simplify MEP at the very base of designing the building. There should not be 20 different unit types in a 100 unit condo apartment or rental apartment. So industrialization in standardization has to be as important as aesthetics.”

White noted that municipalities are often seen as the villain in construction but stressed that Vancouver wants to support innovation and help builders build.

“In the city Vancouver is, the codes are so outdated a lot of the time, industry changes so fast and to get that into account is very, very difficult,” he said. “If you have a great product that meets or exceeds what is in today’s code, it’s very difficult to bring that into the national code, to the provincial code and then into the city of Vancouver code.”

He added that Vancouver has its own charter and own building code and is committed to making sure those innovations can be included rather than ge held back.  

ETRO Construction is looking to lead the way for other general contractors by encouraging trade contractors to embrace collaboration and by developing their own standardized products.  

Future of Work attendees tour Pitt Meadows Plumbing & Mechanical’s Shop XL in Maple Ridge, B.C.

“For us, it’s a collaborative model. We don’t hard-bid any work. What we need are capable contractors of every form who can come in and collaborate on the design assist basis,” said Maierle. “If you are a mechanical contractor, it doesn’t matter. If you’re a 10-person sheet metal company or a 200-person contractor, we need you to have expertise in your office. It’s not just pricing. And second, you must have the ability to produce work off-site.”

ETRO has big plans to be a leader in collaborative, industrialized construction. Their team intends to open a collaborative trade prefabrication centre at their warehouse in Burnaby and create standardized construction products that can be used by the entire industry.  

“We’re creating a space where we can bring an actual mechanical drywall steel together to build work collaboratively and so that model we think is going to help show some of these smaller medium-sized Companies how they can start to scale,” said Maierle. “If we all just continue to work the way we have from the last 100 years, we’re never going to get anywhere.”

He added that ETRO expects to have 20 to 30 products in the coming decade that other builders and contractors are going to use.

“I want to build a manufacturing machine that can not only support us, not only our local industry but a national industry that really needs progressive change,” he said.

Szeto spoke about how collaboration is becoming more and more of a requirement for big sites but can also be applied at a smaller scale.

“The projects are getting more and more complex, they’re taking up more and more physical space. There’s more systems. There’s more integration required. So collaboration is not just an advantage anymore. It’s absolutely necessary for the success of contracts,” she said. “The more and more that you do this collaboration. When you run into unforeseen problems which are bound to happen on any projects. You’re going to work through and deal with those issues far earlier than when it’s going to be too costly.”

The two-day event also sought to address construction’s workforce shortage. It included an educational showcase for students across Metro Vancouver considering a career in the trades and what the future of construction looks like.

Canada’s next great construction tech boom is in full swing.

But not every construction company is ready for it.

With the rise of technology like artificial intelligence, many companies are ramping up their efforts to digitize their processes and modernize their operations. This has positioned industry software leaders like SiteMax for major growth as they stand ready to assist. 

The company offers field management software designed to meet the needs of a general contractor or subcontractor on a commercial, multi-family residential, hi-rise or light industrial project. The complete jobsite management platform has generated millions of daily logs, safety reports, photo records, time entries and more worldwide.

Keeping pace with industry needs

Braden Barwich, SiteMax’s vice president of sales, has seen significant expansion in the past few years and the platform has grown and evolved to keep pace. 

“We’ve seen a lot of growth both on the product side as well as on the customer side,” said Barwich. “Over the last couple years a big kind of jump that we’ve made is moving into the project management and document management process side of the software. So we’ve added RFI tracking, change order tracking, submittals and purchase orders into our mix of tools.”

This connects all external stakeholders, like consultants, engineers, architects and sub trades to the general contractor so documents can flow amongst the entire project team. 

“That’s been a big step and brought us into a different domain,” he said. “Especially since COVID, we saw a huge uptick in companies switching to technology. I think it just sped up what was inevitable.”

He explained that the development of SiteMax has been led by our customers and their feedback, but also their team’s ultimate goal of SiteMax being the digital hub of a jobsite.

Technology gaps are widening

Not all companies are at the same point in their technology transformation. Barwich noted that he is seeing two camps: Those who are still in the early stages of digitizing their processes and those who have already digitized and are looking to take bigger steps. 

“You have people talking about using AI and then others who would just love to have digital time cards and not use paper every week, so there is a huge gap there,” he said. “I think that gap is just going to widen and the people that know how to use technology and adopt it are going to speed off ahead. I don’t think it’s too late at this point, but it’s really going to accelerate growth on the AI side.”

AI has been on SiteMax’s radar for years and they have been strategizing about the best ways to integrate it into their platform. The technology has already become a boon to site superintendents and project managers, especially for repetitive tasks, like filling out daily or weekly reports. 

“It’s not going to replace these people on site, but it’s going to make their job a lot better because it can do that mundane paperwork,” said Barwich.

SiteMax will grow with you 

While Canada’s large contractors have big budgets to spend on technological advancement, SiteMax’s goal is to assist small and medium-sized contractors who want to advance their journey as well.

“That is our target market and our advice is to just get in the game,” said Barwich. “It’s not too late.”

But when it comes to picking a technology platform, many options are pricey and offer extra features that go unused for smaller contractors. Or there are one-off options that only address one issue a contractor faces.

“There’s enterprise software solutions that are very high end, very all inclusive and expensive and then there’s one-off software that you’ll outgrow very quickly. So you’re kind of caught between these two worlds,” said Barwich. “What we’re trying to provide is right in the middle, for small to medium-sized businesses who are thinking ‘maybe I’m late to the game’. Maybe they aren’t ready to go into the AI world, but they want to be there at some point.”

He explained that getting your foot in the door with a package that you can adopt and that your business is ready for is key as then you can continue to grow and adapt with it. 

“Don’t wait for people to retire, don’t keep waiting for external events to push you, because then it will be too late. This shift is going to happen very quickly so you want to start laying the digital groundwork in your business.”

It’s a missing middle that only SiteMax is stepping up to fill. Their ideal customer is agile, wants something easy to use and is looking for a streamlined solution to fit their processes. 

“There are people using three to four different apps when they could be using one complete system,” said Barwich. “But they aren’t willing to pay an arm and a leg for the big ones and only use 50% of it. That’s where SiteMax comes in. We are empowering these middle-sized companies.”  

Barwich encouraged companies looking to start their transformation journey to reach out to SiteMax for demos, videos and other materials to get a more in-depth understanding of what they can offer. 

“It’s very flexible in terms of our pricing plans,” he said. “So, no matter what stage of the business you’re at, let’s talk.”

*Special offer: Contact SiteMax and mention “SiteNews” when you sign up to to get a 10% discount.

* Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a series of interviews conducted with winners of SiteNews’ recent awards program, Construction’s Most Influential People.

Some people talk about doing something, and others simply go do it. Alaa Abdelhamid felt like construction workers needed more of a spotlight to tell their stories and get the recognition they deserve. Rather than wait for someone else to take action, he did it himself.

Abdelhamid began his mission to unearth and celebrate the stories of construction workers and companies by staking out coffee shops and hardware stores. His media brand, Behind the Hard Hat, now has dozens of interviews with blue collar workers and the effort has amassed Abdelhamid more than 20,000 followers on LinkedIn. His videos have garnered millions of views and prompted him to launch a web-based platform where construction workers can share their stories and highlight the unsung heroes of the construction sector.

SiteNews: Early on, your work with Behind the Hard Hat involved approaching strangers to ask for interviews. Did this make you nervous and if so, how were you able to overcome it?

Abdelhamid: Yes, I was very nervous and stressed. Doubts would creep into my head like oh what if I get rejected? what if I pitch it to them and they laugh or think this is stupid? A lot of what ifs, but I remind myself of the mission and why I started this, the long-term goal, and convince myself that what I’m feeling is a short-term feeling that will go away and is not important in the grand scheme of things.

SiteNews: How have your interview skills grown as you have gotten more videos under your belt and what sort of lessons have you learned about what makes for a good interview?

Abdelhamid: In the beginning, I was shy about asking direct questions right away and bringing up topics like mental health. I would have a 20-minute conversation that would lead up to my question. It’s like setting the stage and slowly building up but that would often take a lot of time and get exhausting. As I interviewed more workers, and my confidence built up, I would not waste time and ask what I was thinking right away, and if the person was not comfortable speaking about a certain topic I would not pressure them.

A good interview is one that you would not feel is an interview. It’s almost like a story, you would watch it and feel that this person was talking to you as if they knew you and were drinking a cup of double-double coffee with you on-site every morning.

What elements are critical for a compelling piece of content?

Abdelhamid: This might seem cliche, but authenticity. My best videos came from workers who were real – meaning they did not care that the camera was on or how people were going to perceive them, they were going to tell it as it is. Unfiltered and raw.

If you could book an interview with anyone in the construction sector, who would it be and why?

Abdelhamid: It would be my dad, as he inspired me to pursue to a career in construction. He worked in the mechanical sector of the industry since he was 13.

Why do you think it is important to share stories about construction workers?

Abdelhamid: It’s important because it spreads awareness and appreciation towards the people who build our cities and communities. Often cameras and spotlights are on athletes as they are looked at as a source of entertainment and motivation as they work hard to be in shape and produce at a high level, but construction workers work harder and in my opinion, have a great sense of humor too but no one was able to highlight and celebrate them before or give them a platform to speak and share their voice and views on topics. Why do we listen to athletes but not to the people who built our world?

Key Takeaways:

  • Honda has begun evaluating the requirements to build a Honda EV plant and a stand-alone Honda EV battery plant in Alliston, Ont.
  • The proposed Honda EV value chain will also include a cathode active material and precursor (CAM/pCAM) processing plant through a joint venture partnership with POSCO Future M Co., Ltd. and a separator plant through a joint venture partnership with Asahi Kasei Corporation.
  • Honda has set a goal to make battery electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles represent 100% of vehicle sales by 2040.
  • As the first step, Honda has already positioned its existing auto production plants in the state of Ohio in the U.S. as its EV Hub for production. This hub will share its knowledge with the rest of Honda’s North American plants, including future facilities in Ontario.

The Whole Story:

Honda plans to build a comprehensive EV value chain in Canada with an approximate investment of $15 billion.

The sum includes investment by joint venture partners and will be used to strengthen Honda’s EV supply system and capability to prepare for a future increase in EV demand in North America. 

“Honda is making progress in our global initiatives toward the realization of our 2050 carbon neutrality goal,” said Toshihiro Mibe, Global CEO of Honda. “In North America, following the initiative to establish our EV production system capability in the U.S., we will now begin formal discussions toward the establishment of a comprehensive EV value chain here in Canada, with the support of the governments of Canada and Ontario. We will strengthen our EV supply system and capability with an eye toward a future increase in EV demand in North America.”

Honda says it has begun evaluating the requirements to build a Honda EV plant and a stand-alone Honda EV battery plant in Alliston, Ont. The proposed Honda EV value chain will also include a cathode active material and precursor (CAM/pCAM) processing plant through a joint venture partnership with POSCO Future M Co., Ltd. and a separator plant through a joint venture partnership with Asahi Kasei Corporation, with announcements to follow in their respective Ontario communities.

Honda expects that electric vehicle production will begin in 2028. Once fully operational, the EV plant will have a production capacity of 240,000 EVs per year and the EV battery plant will have a capacity of 36 GWh per year.

In addition to securing the current employment level of 4,200 associates at its two existing manufacturing facilities in Ontario, Honda estimates it will add a minimum of 1,000 new associates for the EV and EV battery manufacturing facilities. The investment in the new facilities will also create significant spinoff jobs across all sites, including in the construction sector.

Honda says it has begun the process of evaluating the scope of its investment and completing negotiations with its joint venture partners. This work is expected to be finalized during the next six months and more details will be shared at that time.

To support this project, Honda is collaborating with the governments of Canada and Ontario to drive innovation in low-emissions manufacturing by accessing performance-based initiatives available through the federal government’s new Investment Tax Credits and provincial direct and indirect incentives.

North American EV strategy

Striving to realize carbon neutrality for all its products and corporate activities by 2050, Honda has set a goal to make BEVs and FCEVs represent 100% of vehicle sales by 2040.

As the first step, Honda positioned its existing auto production plants in the state of Ohio in the U.S. as its EV Hub for production, including the retooling of existing plants, an investment of USD$700 million, and the construction of a joint venture EV battery plant with LG Energy Solution, with an expected investment of USD$4.4 billion.

According to Honda, the Ohio EV hub will serve as the foundation for future EV and EV battery production, sharing knowledge and expertise with other Honda plants in North America, including the new EV assembly and battery plants in Ontario, Canada. Honda expects EV production to begin at the Marysville Auto Plant in late 2025. 

As a second step in this initiative, Honda plans to establish a comprehensive EV value chain in Canada, from the procurement of raw materials mainly for batteries, to the production of finished EVs.  Honda says it will leverage EV production knowledge learned at the Ohio EV Hub, combined with the abundant resources and clean energy available in Canada, to establish a stable supply system for batteries, the key component of EVs, and increase cost competitiveness of its EVs as a whole.

Kevin Read is now senior director of offsite solutions for Bird Construction. Prior to entering the modular space in 2012, Read spent years working in product design, quality assurance, process automation, corporate strategy, and business development in the construction and energy industries.

Luke Forrest is the new vice president of sales for Bridgit. Forrest previously spent five years in various roles at Autodesk. 

David Podmore, chair of Concert Properties, has announced his retirement from the company’s board this summer. The board plans to name a new chair in the coming weeks.

We have achieved a great deal over the years. Among our accomplishments, we have built over 13,800 homes, which include 1,450 assured and affordable homes, with approximately 9,000 more in our development pipeline. Additionally, we currently own and manage over 13 million square feet of industrial and commercial properties. Through Concert Infrastructure, we have invested in, developed and now manage 10 essential Canadian public infrastructure projects. And perhaps most importantly, we have also earned an excellent reputation. This legacy is one that I am truly proud of.

David Podmore, chair, Concert Properties

Sina Khamenehi is starting a new role at ETRO Construction as a project manager. He is well versed in civil engineering, project/construction management, and building information modeling. He joins ETRO after similar roles at Axiom Builders, Chandos Construction and Urban One Builders. 

Sean Penn has been named Chandos Construction’s new CEO. Officials stated that Penn’s career at Chandos spans over 20 years, from his years working as a carpenter to his tenure as chief operating officer (COO). They noted that he has showcased leadership and an “unwavering commitment” to Chandos’ core values of inclusion, collaboration, innovation, and courage. 

In 2020, Chandos COO Sean Penn embarked on a two-month road trip to visit job sites.

Steven Crombie has joined the Ontario Road Builders’ Association as its new senior, director, public affairs. The association said Crombie is a seasoned public affairs professional with industry association and government experience. He brings a unique blend of heavy civil construction and policy expertise.

Katie Kohlenberg has been hired as manager, project development and collaborative delivery at Bird Construction. Previously, Kohlenberg served as director of operations, senior IPD coach and senior sustainability project lead at EcoAmmo Sustainable Consulting. 

Troy Glasner has started a new position at Focal Engineering as a senior energy analyst and project manager. Focal said Glasner is an industry veteran with a long history of breaking new ground in building sustainability.

Jason Thorne has joined Stantec’s Urban Places practice as a sector leader for Canada. Thorne brings over two decades of planning and community development. In the last decade, Thorne served as the City of Hamilton’s general manager of planning and economic development.

Mike Snow is starting a new position as chief operating officer for Lacroix Construction. Previously, Snow spent 12 years at TESC Contracting Company where he achieved the general manager position.  

Kelly Pelton is retiring from his role as vice president, supply chain at EECOL Electric after 25 years of service. His role will be taken over by Natalia Sershun who has held senior roles in contract management and supply chain at Suncor, Sanjel, and most recently, Graham Construction.

Irvin Heiber is celebrating 30 years with PCL construction. He joined PCL in 1989 as a district engineer. As a construction manager, he is currently overseeing a large and complex building and envelope retrofit in Gatineau and starting up the recently awarded RSS Main Labs project.

Omar AL-Humaimidi announced that he is now quality director for the Surrey Langley SkyTrain Station Contract at Aecon Group.

Claire Macdonald has been promoted to asset manager for Low Tide Properties. Her previous role was asset management analyst. She has been with the company for more than four years.  

Hung Nguyen is Axiom Builders’ latest superintendent. Previously, Nguyen worked at Anthem Properties as an assistant superintendent. 

Patrick Crabbe, Shaun Stiles and Jon Higgins have joined the Off-site Construction Research Centre at the University of New Brunswick as executive board members. Crabbe is director of mass timber at Bird Construction, Stiles is senior vice president and area manager for EllisDon and Higgins is VP Canadian operations for Stack Modular.

Silvia Koteva has joined Infrastructure BC as a senior associate. Koteva brings years of infrastructure experience focused on leading major health infrastructure projects through the business case phase of work, integrated capital planning, contract negotiation, and managing complex federal funding programs.

Dear reader, our team is planning an evening of drinks, food and networking in Calgary next month to celebrate Construction’s Most Influential People and we want you to join us. We aren’t just saying that. We mean it. Follow this link and use the code PEOPLEMOVES for 20% off tickets.

Andrew Hansen is the founder and CEO of SitePartners, a specialized marketing and consulting agency built to serve the industrial sector. He recently joined Breakthrough Academy’s  Contractor Evolution podcast to discuss employer branding, workforce development and major shifts in the B2B market. Check out his insights below or listen to the full podcast here.

Whether you’ve invested in it or not, right now your brand is talking to buyers, job seekers and the industry as a whole.

What’s it saying? 

Employer brands have  become especially important in recent years as construction’s labour crisis has worsened and businesses compete for talent. It has become a massive part of the work we do at SitePartners, a specialized marketing and consulting agency built to serve the industrial sector.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, much of our time was spent helping our clients attract the right work. Now, as the industry has continued to grow and demand has taken off, roughly half of our focus has shifted to helping clients attract and retain the right people.

While many firms invest a lot into their marketing programs, not much of that is geared toward recruitment and building an employer brand that attracts talent. But whether you spend time and money on it or not, job seekers will form a perception of your company. 

Own your story

Here’s something we stress to our clients: If you don’t tell your story, someone else will. A big first step is reflecting on your organization and its place in the industry. Take some time to understand the unique things about your business that make it what it is. Once you’ve zeroed in on that, don’t shy away from it. Be bold. Own it completely. 

SitePartners founder and CEO Andrew Hansen on the Contractor Evolution podcast.

This will scare away some candidates, but attract ones who align with your work and the culture you have created. At SitePartners, we are proud to be a specialized firm that only serves the industrial sector. 

For many professionals, it’s not the kind of work that interests them, and that’s OK. The ones who do apply are excited about industrial work. They love forestry, big machines, manufacturing, wearing steel-toe boots and being on a job site. That increases the chance of a successful recruitment journey. 

Create a tailored experience

As the demographics of industrial workers shift towards younger candidates, expectations for the hiring process are also changing. 

These workers are used to using polished tools like Amazon, Netflix and Instagram. They’re used to a consumer-level experience tailored to them. 

Fumbling around uploading PDFs and getting stuck on clunky third-party sites or a company site with low-quality photo and video assets is a bad experience. It’s also a huge missed opportunity for you to communicate your company brand and what working there will be like. If you really care about that employee experience, own that touchpoint from start to finish. Candidates will feel it and it will put you a step above your competitors.

And if you control that experience, you can get your message and assets in front of those candidates. Choosing a job is one of the biggest decisions someone can make, aside from buying a house or finding a spouse. They are going to pick through your website and social media channels to see what your story is. The application and hiring experience says a lot to potential employees about what a company will be like to work for.

Make it personal

Yes. I can almost hear you rolling your eyes through the screen. But hear me out. Investing in your personal brand pays off.

Rather than only posting jobs and content on a corporate page, post using your personal account. If you have invested time in building your brand as an executive and industry leader, this will drive results. This can be a passionate story about the kind of candidate you are looking for with dynamic photos. It will always outperform a corporate page post.

But this means posting even when you aren’t seeking employees. You started your business for a reason. Post about it. Talk about it. Be dynamic. Be personable. It may take you out of your comfort zone but if you are authentic, people will see that. This is incredibly useful for job seekers. They want to know the type of people they could be working for.

Tell an authentic story

Storytelling works. It’s something humans have been drawn to for thousands of years. We are hooked by a good story. Use that in your messaging. If you had someone join you as a labourer and they worked their way up to vice president, that’s a captivating story. This is something that the biggest construction brands do on a daily basis. You can too.

Good talent isn’t looking for a job tomorrow. They are educating themselves over time. So telling those stories consistently is key. 

Authenticity is just as important. Don’t be somebody you’re not. Talk on social media the same way you do to your employees. If you attract talent and they get hired, they will find that out anyway. During our interview process at SitePartners, we almost try to scare people away, telling them up front that the work is hard, it’s dynamic and we move fast. We want to be clear about what it’s like to work here so people know what they are signing up for. 

You don’t need to make a huge financial investment or hire a big marketing firm to start getting results. Here are a few quick steps that any company can take to get started:

  1. Audit your current brand: Look at your job ads, your website, and your application process to see how you are perceived in the marketplace and how you are presenting. What story are you telling? Have someone apply to your company and ask them how the experience was.  
  2. Define that position: Now that you know the current status of your brand, spend some time defining what you want your company’s position in the industry to be. Does it match the results of your audit?  
  3. Interview your top performers: You have access to an invaluable resource—people you have successfully attracted and retained. Talk to them to find out why. Ask them why they applied, why they have stayed, and what their experience was like. 
  4. Own it: Once you have a clear idea of your company brand and its position, consistently push out that content on all your channels. Make sure the content is aligned. If you are starting from scratch, this will take time, but it is a worthwhile investment. When you do have a role you need filled, you can leverage your brand to pull in the right people. 

B2B Data highlights the importance of branding

At SitePartners, all of our work is driven by data and strategy. We never go into a creative process blind hoping for the best. The data shows that it isn’t just the workforce that’s shifting. The entire B2B sector is changing.

Research shows 94% of B2B buyers considering a major purchase are researching products or services online before ever contacting a salesperson. And by the time they do, they are 57% of the way through their decision-making process. These customers are engaging with your brand and forming a perception about your company before they even talk to you. 

Buyers of complex deals spend roughly 17% of their time talking to sales. And if they are talking to three vendors, a common situation, they are only talking to you for an even smaller percentage of that time. Not only that, nearly half of these B2B buyers are under 40 and extremely comfortable using digital channels. They expect a polished digital experience. Research also shows that these major B2B decisions are only being made once every five years, meaning that only 20% of your customers are looking to spend in 2024. 

With so little direct contact with digitally sophisticated, young B2B buyers, how do you stand out?

You have to use your brand. Those buyers are still consuming case studies, project announcements, social media posts, website copy and interacting with your brand in the years leading up to that big purchase. The benefits of investing time in your brand can be huge. Roughly 16% of B2B buyers found that if a brand’s content was useful to them, they went on to buy their product or service and 33% noted that if the content was high quality it gave them a positive perception of the company. 

Your company’s brand is communicating with the industry right now. Are you in control of what it’s saying?

Key Takeaways:

  • The $1 billion dollar infrastructure program would secure up to 1,700 megawatts (MW) of clean electricity.
  • OPG and its partner, GE Vernova, will refurbish up to 25 units in total at the Sir Adam Beck Complex as the first phase of this work beginning in 2025. This will take around 15 years to complete.
  • OPG is also developing future plans for its DeCew I and DeCew II generating stations in the region.

The Whole Story:

The Ontario government is supporting Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) plan to refurbish its hydroelectric stations in the Niagara region, including the Sir Adam Beck Complex at Niagara Falls.

The $1 billion dollar infrastructure program would secure up to 1,700 megawatts (MW) of clean electricity, equivalent to powering 1.7 million homes, helping to meet increasing demand.

“For more than 100 years hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls has powered our province, and with today’s investment we’re extending the life of these stations by another 30 years to help Ontario meet its growing electricity needs,” said Todd Smith, minister of energy. “This refurbishment program – part of our Powering Ontario’s Growth Plan – will create jobs and ensure we have the power we need for the next major international investment, the new homes we are building and industries as they grow and electrify.”

OPG and its partner, GE Vernova, will refurbish up to 25 units in total at the Sir Adam Beck Complex as the first phase of this work beginning in 2025, increasing the stations capacity by up to 50 MW. OPG is also developing future plans for its DeCew I and DeCew II generating stations in the region.

“Upgrading and optimizing OPG’s renewable generation workhorses like the Sir Adam Beck complex is crucial to support the growing demands of electrification and a thriving economy,” said Ken Hartwick, OPG President and CEO. “Through this refurbishment, this hydropower facility will build on its century-plus history, and continue to produce the low-cost, reliable electricity Ontarians need for decades to come.”

The work at the Sir Adam Beck complex will take place over the next 15 years, creating more than 200 jobs in the Niagara region.

“Ontario is blessed with a diverse supply of clean energy sources. Through this historic investment in the Sir Adam Beck Generating Stations, we are able to keep costs down for families while funding more reliable sources of energy,” said Andrea Khanjin, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “This investment will ensure a future of clean, reliable and affordable power in the province for generations to come.”

After weeks of going through submissions, SiteNews has finally revealed its list of inspiring construction leaders who are influencing Canadian construction for the better. 

Construction’s Most Influential People, a new annual awards program, recognizes individuals across all sectors who significantly impact Canadian construction. Nominees can be of any age and hold any position, as long as their work benefits the built environment. Nominations were self-submitted or made on behalf of others, with details on why the nominee deserves recognition. Winners were selected by a panel of staff from SiteNews.

The list of over 50 individuals includes builders, CEOs, educators, architects, lawyers, association leaders, social media stars and more. 

“Construction is powered by people, whether they are behind a desk or on the jobsite,” said Russell Hixson, SiteNews editor. “And construction is more important than ever, whether it’s creating data centres that power AI, roads that carry our goods, transit for commuters or affordable housing to ease the affordability crisis. We want to make sure the men and women doing this work get the recognition they deserve.”

The Most Influential list comes off the heels of SiteNews’ other awards program, the 25 Innovators in Construction Awards which sought out the industry’s most cutting edge companies. The SiteNews team explained that the latest awards program is part of a broader strategy to equip, educate and elevate the construction sector.

“The public rarely hears about the immense skill and passion that goes into creating the built environment that they live in,” said Brett Rutledge, SiteNews co-founder. “This is just another way that we can highlight the incredible work that the industrial sector does, and the people behind it. Congratulations to all the winners. We see you and you are appreciated.” 

See the full list of winners here.

SiteNews plans to celebrate the winners at an exclusive event for winners and other industry leaders. There are a limited number of  tickets still available for purchase. Secure your spot using this link

Key Takeaways:

  • The Greater Toronto Airports Authority has begun the first phase of procurement for its LIFT program which will see billions of dollars spent on airport upgrades over the next decade and beyond.
  • The first phase of a procurement process included an industry forum for 700 participants from design, construction, and technology industry companies.
  • The first program of LIFT will focus on modernizing airport assets, including high speed taxi lanes to improve airfield performance, modernized airfield electric lighting and control system, interim terminal facilities, and investments in power generation to advance towards net-zero targets.

The Whole Story:

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) has initiated discussions with design and construction companies on Pearson LIFT – Long term Investment in Facilities and Terminals (LIFT), a program that includes more than a decade of capital projects that include billions of dollars worth of upgrade work.

The discussion will cover the procurement, planning and vision of the program. LIFT’s goal is to prepare the airport for future challenges and opportunities.

Toronto Pearson executives launched the first phase of a procurement process at an industry forum for 700 participants from design, construction, and technology industry companies.

“Toronto Pearson has been meeting passenger needs by deploying extraordinary resources to many of its aged assets and facilities, which is not a sustainable solution with passenger traffic expected to grow to approximately 65 million annually by the early 2030s – a figure that takes the airport beyond its 45 million passengers in 2023,” said officials.

Officials added that Toronto Pearson Airport is making smart investments to accommodate increasing passenger demand with a focus on affordability, smart design and sustainability.

“Through LIFT, we will deliver a world-class passenger experience, integrate smart architecture, unlock the digital potential in air travel, and advance towards a net-zero future,” said Deborah Flint, president and CEO, GTAA. “These plans are anchored to our ambition to build an airport that will strengthen international competitiveness, leverage innovation, and advance sustainability, all which drive economic returns for Canada.”

The first program of LIFT will focus on modernizing airport assets, including high speed taxi lanes to improve airfield performance, modernized airfield electric lighting and control system, interim terminal facilities, and investments in power generation to advance towards net-zero targets.

“LIFT is an investment in Canada’s future economic prosperity and is poised to generate billions of dollars in economic benefits,” said Doug Allingham, chairman of the board, GTAA. These necessary investments will strengthen the supply chain, open the door to new opportunities for Canadian businesses, and create good jobs right here in the GTA. Together, they will enable sustainable growth and competitiveness on a global scale.”

These enhancements will pave the way for Toronto Pearson to become one of the greenest, technologically advanced, and passenger-friendly airports in North America and globally.

Major construction projects at Pearson Airport in recent years have focused on runway rehabilitation, baggage system upgrades, and infrastructure improvements at the nearby Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. These projects include:

  • Runway 06L/24R Rehabilitation Project: In early 2022, Pearson temporarily closed its second-busiest east/west runway, Runway 06L/24R, for a full rehabilitation project. This was one of the largest runway repair projects in the airport’s history. The work was completed in phases and lasted until late 2022, extending the life of the runway by 30 years and enhancing safety.
  • Baggage System Upgrades: Pearson has been working to revitalize its baggage operations system to accommodate rising passenger numbers. This has involved implementing new infrastructure and technology, such as a Baggage Control Centre, early bag stores, and real-time baggage information for employees.

Key Takeaways:

  • Linesight’s latest Construction Market Insight report revealed a number of themes, including a sharp rise in data centre construction.
  • Experts say much of this increase is due to the rapid emergence of artificial intelligence technology.
  • These data centres are also getting larger, denser and more complex to build, requiring specialized contractors.

The Whole Story:

Artificial intelligence is poised to transform society in an unknown amount of ways at a pace that is blistering. This transformation is creating a massive new demand for construction.

Data centre facilities, which are utilized by AI and cloud service providers, are exploding in the U.S. and beginning to pick up steam in Canada. 

Global construction consultant Linesight, which works with some of the top hyperscale data centre providers in the world,  expects growth is likely to remain strong due to the increasing demand for cloud services and data-intensive applications. This was one of main takeaways from the groups recently released Construction Market Insights report for North America. 

AI is creating more demand

Padraig Leahy, vice president of Linesight in the Americas and Jonathan Scully-Lane, Linesight’s associate director in Canada spoke about the dramatic rise in demand for these centres and why the are far more complex to build than they appear. 

Leahy explained that while data centres aren’t new, the recent explosion of artificial intelligence has been creating much of the new work.

“The introduction of various AI tools has been a turbo boost for data centre requirements. Before that, it was extremely busy. And then it just took a hockey stick trajectory up,” he said. 

He noted that the density and complexity of these facilities is also growing. Clients are wanting to fit more racks into smaller spaces and draw larger amounts of power. There is also lots of overlap because AI is impacting so many parts of the economy, including life sciences operations. 

“The link between AI and life sciences is becoming more important because life sciences operate on drug development,” said Leahy. “So AI is helping with the scaling up of drug development. So they can do a lot more checking and calculations and clinical stuff in the background quicker now because of AI.”

Scully-Lane explained that there hasn’t been the same explosion in demand for AI data centres in Canada yet, but hyperscalers—large cloud service providers—are expanding, particularly out east. He is currently working on seven hyperscale facilities on the east coast with plans for many more. 

“Our schedules are tight, the work is concurrent,” he said. “It’s getting to the point where we are having to protect our general contractors a bit and ask them if they are going to be able to bid on four to six different projects. Canada has a limited number of tier one contractors with data centre experience.”

And even those that do have experience have often only have only worked on smaller, low wattage projects.

Data centre work requires skilled builders

Why is so much experience to build what is essentially a warehouse? Scully-Lane explained that the warehouse shape of the building is easy. The real challenges are the immense mechanical and electrical system requirements to power and cool what goes inside. 

The facilities require robust climate control and builders have large commissioning requirements due to the high extreme reliability needed by clients.

“You have to make sure all the equipment is interconnected and up and running. There can be no overheating,” said Scully-Lane. “Commissioning is probably one of the most onerous activities you can do within a data centre. It’s frequently underestimated.” 

He noted that data centre’s run so long without interruption that downtime is often less than one second each year. They systems must have multiple redundancies built in to ensure nothing stops even if there is an issue. Each hall is a standalone cell that can function independently if others go down. 

“It’s a multitude of huge amounts of mechanical cooling and electrical systems for such a  relatively small building,” he said. “And they’re often completed in a phase development where you have a live section operating and then the contractor is operating fitting out the other sections. You need experience in that how to do it. There’s safety, there’s massive power going in to make sure everything is safe and nobody, God forbid, has an accident.”

There is no room for error while working in a live data centre. Crews must be well versed in the sequencing, safety and design of data centre buildings making it specialized work. 

Equipment supplies are strained

The data centre boom and its equipment requirements could have an impact on supply chains. Scully-Lane and Leahy said lead time for some equipment pieces are already more than a year long and vendors are having difficulty keeping up. This includes air handling units, power distribution units and generators. 

“If you’re thinking about building a data center in two years’ time, you’ll want to start ordering your equipment for it now,” said Leahy.

Many clients have begun buying up equipment years in advance to try and mitigate these lead times, but this has its own risks. 

“Technology is moving so fast that equipment could become redundant before you know it/ YOu cannot have something sitting there for three years because three years could mean it’s redundant and there is something much more efficient.” 

The pair added that this large demand will impact other parts of the construction sector that want labour and equipment. 

Linesight’s report also touched on other key trends happening in construction: 

Macroeconomic overview: The U.S. and Canada demonstrated resilience in 2023, with the US maintaining a strong job market and Canada enjoying growth from job creation and population increase. Both countries look towards 2024 with cautious optimism, hoping for economic growth facilitated by potential interest rate adjustments in response to easing inflation. 

Inflation and interest rates: After peaking in 2022, inflation is moderating, with stable yet elevated interest rates. The construction industry anticipates possible rate reductions later in 2024, aligning with easing inflationary pressures. 

Construction sector overview: Despite challenges from high interest rates and labor shortages, certain sectors like data centers, infrastructure and high-tech industrial remain robust, driven by significant investments. Supply chain and labor issues continue to be pivotal, with the industry focusing on strategic solutions to mitigate these challenges. 

Commodities market adjustment: 2023 saw a general easing in commodities prices, offering relief to the construction industry. This adjustment is particularly beneficial for materials with high energy requirements, providing a positive outlook for future projects.

Key Takeaways:

  • The South Fraser Station Partners team has been selected as the preferred proponent.
  • The team includes Aecon Constructors, Pomerleau and AECOM Canada.
  • The scope of work includes designing and building eight new stations for the project, including cycling and walking paths around the new stations.

The Whole Story:

Plans for Surrey Langley SkyTrain have taken another step forward with the selection of a preferred proponent team to design and build eight new stations for the project, including cycling and walking paths around the new stations.

Following a competitive procurement process, the province has chosen South Fraser Station Partners to enter into contract negotiations. The South Fraser Station Partners team is comprised of:

  • Aecon Constructors, a division of Aecon Construction Group Inc.;
  • Acciona Infrastructure Canada Inc.; 
  • Pomerleau BC Inc.; and
  • AECOM Canada Ltd.

“We’re proud at Pomerleau to be collaborating with our client, the province of British Columbia, and our partners on a project that will offer those who live, work, study, and play south of the Fraser River sustainable transportation options,” said Philippe, Adam, president and CEO of Pomerleau.

As the province enters contract negotiations with South Fraser Station Partners, the team will start early works on the project, such as pre-construction site surveys, locating utilities, geotechnical drilling and station design work.

The Surrey Langley SkyTrain project is a 16-kilometre extension of the Expo Line from King George Station to Langley City Centre, the first rapid-transit expansion south of the Fraser River in 30 years.

Other early works are underway along the Fraser Highway corridor. This includes work to relocate power lines and prepare for the start of major construction this year. Major construction is expected to begin this year.

The Surrey Langley SkyTrain project is being delivered through three separate contracts. Last month, the province announced that SkyLink Guideway Partners has been chosen as the preferred proponent to design, build and finance the elevated guideway and associated roadworks, utilities and active transportation elements of the project.

The competitive selection process for the systems and trackwork contract is ongoing. Requests for proposals for all three phases were issued in early 2023. Formal contract-award announcements are anticipated in the coming months.

Build a Dream is a national non-profit organization founded by workforce advisor, mentor, and influencer Nour Hachem. It advances diversity and inclusion initiatives for skilled trades and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers.

Since getting its start in 2014 in Windsor, Ont., Build a Dream has delivered programs to inspire young women to pursue work in historically male-dominated fields. We spoke with Hachem about how the industry can attract more women and what barriers they face in the construction sector.

SiteNews: Tell me about the work Build a Dream does and what motivated you to start it.

Nour Hachem: Build a Dream is committed to empowering women and underrepresented groups to explore diverse career paths, particularly in skilled trades, Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM), Entrepreneurship, and Emergency Response fields. Through comprehensive mentorship programs, immersive career expos, and hands-on workshops, we strive to dismantle barriers and provide youth with the confidence and skills necessary for successful futures in these industries.

My journey into the skilled trades industry was deeply influenced by my mother’s determination to excel in a male-dominated field. Witnessing her perseverance ignited my passion for challenging societal norms and advocating for gender equality. Through my extensive career in workforce development and as a woman from a racialized community, I realized the urgent need to address the barriers preventing women from pursuing rewarding careers in skilled trades, STEAM, Entrepreneurship, and Emergency Response fields. This realization fueled my commitment to founding Build a Dream and we are thrilled to be celebrating our 10th anniversary on April 27th at Caesars Windsor. It’ll be a time to highlight the meaningful work we have accomplished over the last ten years with our community, partners, and supporters. Tickets are still available for purchase on our website

SiteNews: What do you think are some of the root causes of women not choosing skilled trades, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers?

Hachem: There are several factors, including limited access to training programs, deeply ingrained societal stereotypes, and pervasive biases within educational and workplace environments. To effectively address these challenges, it’s essential to advocate for comprehensive STEAM education from an early age, promote hands-on learning experiences that spark interest and confidence in young women, and establish robust support networks offering mentorship and guidance tailored to their unique needs. 

We were thrilled to see an investment in our young people in Ontario’s 2024 budget. We welcome these measures that support skills development and apprenticeships for Ontario’s youth, such as expanding access to skilled trades training centers and investing in programs like the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program. By prioritizing access to mentorship and skills training programs for equity-deserving groups, including women, we can take significant strides towards building a workforce that reflects Canada’s rich diversity.

SiteNews: Why don’t we see more women in leadership roles in these fields?

Hachem: The underrepresentation of women in leadership roles is rooted in systemic barriers such as pervasive gender biases, limited accessible pathways for advancement, and a lack of representation at decision-making levels. To address this disparity, proactive measures such as implementing robust diversity and inclusion policies, fostering more mentorship opportunities for aspiring female leaders, and amplifying the success stories of women in these fields are crucial. We need to dismantle these barriers so that we can pave the way for more equitable representation. 

Heike Delmore Photography

Our Union Training and Innovation Program (UTIP), funded by a grant from ESDC (Employment and Social Development Canada), aims to boost women’s leadership through initiatives like the Apprenticeship Incubator, which uses virtual reality simulators for skills development, and the #PowerUP Skills program, which provides hands-on experiences. Additionally, our You’re Hired Road Show will facilitate connections between jobseekers and employers, particularly benefiting those without preexisting connections in the industry. 

SiteNews: What sort of impact did your mother have on your attitudes/thinking towards women in the workplace?

Hachem: My mother’s resilience and achievements in a male-dominated field deeply influenced my attitudes towards gender equality in the workplace. Witnessing her determination to succeed played a pivotal role in shaping my commitment to empowering women and creating opportunities for their representation in traditionally male-dominated industries, culminating in the establishment of Build a Dream—a platform dedicated to fostering gender diversity and equity.

SiteNews: As a working mom, tell me about some of the challenges female leaders face when they are starting a family. 

Hachem: Female leaders encounter numerous challenges when starting a family, primarily centered around balancing work and family responsibilities. Juggling demanding professional roles with childcare duties can often lead to feelings of guilt and stress. Supportive policies such as flexible work arrangements, comprehensive childcare assistance, and extended parental leave are crucial in easing this burden. That’s why, Build a Dream is urging both the provincial and federal governments to provide subsidies and incentives for businesses to establish on-site childcare facilities, recognizing the vital role affordable childcare plays in supporting women’s participation in the workforce. This aligns with the recently launched provincial budget’s focus on building, expanding, and renewing schools and childcare spaces, demonstrating a commitment to supporting working parents. Additionally, the federal government also recently announced measures from the upcoming Budget 2024 to build more affordable childcare spaces. This is another significant step toward addressing the childcare needs of tradespeople and supporting their continued participation in the industry.

SiteNews: What has your experiences as a workforce advisor, mentor and influencer taught you about motivating women to choose trades and STEM careers?

Hachem: I’ve learned that motivating women to pursue careers in trades and STEAM fields requires more than just encouragement—it demands tangible support, hands-on learning opportunities, and targeted mentorship programs. Our WAGE program addresses this need by offering a comprehensive mentorship program where participants are matched with experienced mentors who provide valuable insights tailored to their goals and challenges. Through networking opportunities and skill-building workshops, mentees gain the confidence and connections needed to feel empowered to explore their interests. Additionally, highlighting the real-world impact and opportunities for growth within these industries can inspire women to pursue rewarding careers in trades and STEAM. 

SiteNews: What things are companies and leaders doing right when it comes to recruiting and retaining female workers in trades/STEM careers?

Hachem: Companies are making great strides in recruiting and retaining female workers in trades and STEAM careers by recognizing the importance of early outreach and education programs. Additionally, we have seen that offering more apprenticeship and training opportunities that are tailored to women’s needs, promoting inclusive policies that create supportive work environments, and providing ongoing mentorship, all contribute to attracting and retaining more female talent. However, there’s more to be done. 

Our industry case studies, a cornerstone of our Women in Skilled Trades (WIST) project, offer a unique opportunity for forward-thinking companies. With limited spots available, fifteen organizations across Canada will have a chance to showcase their commitment to gender equity and workplace inclusivity. We want to highlight inclusive hiring practices, supportive workplace cultures, and leadership development initiatives. These organizations are the ones leading the conversation and by showcasing their success stories, we aim to inspire other companies to adopt similar approaches, ultimately increasing the presence of women in Red Seal trades and reshaping the skilled trades landscape.

SiteNews: How can men support women who choose to enter predominantly male fields like construction?  

Hachem: Male allies can play a pivotal role by actively advocating for inclusivity and challenging gender biases within their workplaces. Beyond that, providing tangible support such as mentorship to female colleagues, fostering a culture of respect and equality, and actively creating opportunities for women to highlight their skills and leadership capabilities are crucial steps in breaking down barriers and creating a more inclusive industry landscape. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Technology adoption in construction will hinge on trust. The best way to boost this is having executives educate themselves on AI, robotics and more.
  • Young people want to be part of companies that are on construction’s cutting edge and are technologically sophisticated. However, older workers still have a wealth of experience that they can share before retirement.
  • When it comes to sustainability, we are getting better at tracking embodied carbon, reducing waste and being more efficient.
  • A crucial part of any company’s tech strategy must be to not get distracted by trendy solutions. Only adopt tools that solve your business’s specific problems.

The Whole Story:

What are construction tech experts thinking about for construction’s near future?

We spoke with Kris Lengieza, Procore’s first global technology evangelist, about the different trends catching his attention as we get deeper into 2024. We reached him while he was attending the BIM World conference in Paris. 

Lengieza spent the last twenty years in construction, with ten years focused on how he could use technology to make construction work easier. To maximize his influence, he made the leap from working for a general contractor in Florida to working for Procore.

“I spent five years focused on improving operational excellence through optimizing tech stacks with more than just Procore,” he said. “Now I’m focusing more on the evolution happening in construction technology, educating the industry and being a guide to our customers on how to do things effectively or efficiently.” 

Technological progress hinges on trust

Lengieza noted that three technology trends have accelerated in 2024. The first being artificial intelligence.

“There are lots of risks and confusion around it and it has a tremendous amount of momentum,” he said. “It’s a global thing. Everyone is wondering how it will impact the industry. There are some great examples of wins now, but also lots of promises that are a lot further away.” 

The second is data. The Internet of Things, reality capture and more is changing how builders collect data and use it on sites. 

“This is incredibly important,” said Lengieza. “The more data we have, the more informed we can be. Our study last year showed that customers believe that if they could gain insight to get to a faster decision from their data, they could save 13% on a project.” 

The third is robotics, which Lengieza was previously not bullish on. 

“I was a naysayer on robotics and thought it was further out, but some of the more simple use cases—layout, some hanger installations, the Hilti Jaibot,” he said. “They are making humans superhuman. They are not going to replace a person on the job.”

He explained that when he first dealt with layout it was robotic total stations speeding things up, but now when they do layout, it’s still one person but they can layout much more and do it better.

“We are starting to get over pricing hurdles and how one can integrate these things into the jobsite. That is really exciting as we have such a labour shortage,” he said. “This will help with a significant portion of that. It’s more efficient.”

What is the key to increasing the adopting of these emerging technologies? Lengieza said it comes down to trust. 

“It’s the biggest barrier,” he explained. “The reason we don’t trust is we don’t understand how it works.” 

Lengieza has spoken to many construction CEOs who say they don’t understand how something like ChatGPT works, what it’s good for or what it is capable of. He believes that the first step one can take is simply educating yourself on new technology. 

Labour requires attraction and retention

Another major theme Procore is tracking is the shortage of workers in construction. Lengieza explained that Canada is not alone. It is a global problem. It’s among the top three things he hears from executives. 

“We need to make construction cool again. We must be advocates for industry in high school programs and university programs. We need to show them that it’s not the industry from 40 or 50 years ago,” he said. “It’s a new, modern industry.” 

He is also hearing about college recruits asking builders about their tech stack and how they are innovating. 

“The new generations coming to the industry want to make a difference, they want to be part of the change,” he said, adding that the outgoing generation’s wealth of experience and the incoming generation’s tech savvy creates a great opportunity to exchange knowledge.

Sustainability tracking has become more sophisticated

A major trend Procore has seen in sustainability is the ability to identify and track carbon emissions in the industry. There are systems like the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) that allows benchmarking, assessment and reductions in embodied carbon, focused on the upfront supply chain emissions of construction materials.

“We can understand the embodied carbon in a building, we can estimate what an unbuilt building’s embodied carbon will be. This allows us to iterate on the design and suggest alternative materials to control the impact,” said Lengieza. 

Another trend is around waste and tracking it. He explained that the better we can track waste and rework, the more we can minimize mistakes and use less sacrificial materials. 

“Tech plays a big role in this because we have a lot more 3D models to more easily understand what’s in a building from a carbon perspective and we have tools to collect data out in the field. This can help mitigate rework and prevent miscommunications,” he said.  

Lengieza’s big overall takeaway and what he has been telling executives is that technology is a piece of the puzzle. Technology just for technology’s sake isn’t necessarily useful. 

“It requires people and process with it, and you need to find technology that’s solving key business problems and that’s really important,” he said. “If you look at AI, robots etc. the question to ask is if it is solving a key problem at your business. Don’t try to implement something because it is cutting edge. Do it because it is solving a real problem, that’s pretty critical.”

Key Takeaways:

  • The parliamentary budget officer says 1.3 million new homes must be constructed by 2030 to bridge the nation’s housing deficit.
  • The achieve this, Canada must build 181,000 more homes annually compared to current construction rates.
  • The total vacancy rate in Canada (the number of vacant units, for sale or rent, relative to the housing stock) reached a record low of 5.1 per cent in 2023

The Whole Story:

The latest analysis from the parliamentary budget officer (PBO) underscores the pressing need for additional housing in Canada.

According to the report, an estimated 1.3 million new homes must be constructed by 2030 to bridge the nation’s housing deficit. Officials say this figure is crucial for restoring Canada’s vacancy rate to its historical average.

Based on PBO estimates, the total vacancy rate in Canada (the number of vacant units, for sale or rent, relative to the housing stock) reached a record low of 5.1 per cent in 2023—1.8 percentage points below its 2000-2019 average of 6.9 per cent.

Under the PBO’s status quo baseline outlook, over 2024 to 2030, household formation outpaces net completions (272,000 households versus 255,000 units annually, on average). This imbalance pushes the total vacancy rate lower to 3.9 per cent in 2025, before stabilizing at around 4.0 per cent by 2030.

Yves Giroux’s office considered various factors, including the projected increase in households if adequate housing options were available. Consequently, the PBO suggests that Canada should aim to build 181,000 more homes annually compared to current construction rates.

Despite recent federal initiatives to boost housing supply and the implementation of Ottawa’s temporary resident cap, these efforts were not factored into the report’s calculations.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. echoed the urgency in their data as well, advocating for the construction of 3.5 million homes by 2030 to restore affordability levels to those of the early 2000s.

Giroux’s estimate diverges from CMHC’s, as he primarily focused on closing the gap between housing demand and supply. Meanwhile, the Liberal government has announced a series of housing measures ahead of the federal budget. These proposals primarily aim to increase rental construction by providing substantial low-cost loans and offering infrastructure funding to provinces and municipalities.

Key Takeaways:

  • The changes allow mass timber buildings to go to 18 storeys and be utilized in new building types, including schools, libraries, retail, industrial, care facilities and more.
  • The BC Building Code changes for mass timber were developed by a national joint task group co-chaired by B.C. and Quebec.
  • The changes come just days after Ontario announced their own plans to allow 18-storey mass timber buildings.

The Whole Story:

It’s official. B.C. is going tall with mass timber.

The province has adopted building code changes to permit the use of mass timber in buildings, such as schools, shopping centres and housing. The changes were proposed last December.

“These changes will help reduce carbon pollution, support the forestry sector, create jobs, build more homes and lead to more vibrant communities,” said Ravi Kahlon, minister of housing. “We know mass timber looks great, and now we can use it in larger buildings and more types of buildings.”

The mass-timber updates to the BC Building Code, now in effect, will:

  • enable taller encapsulated mass-timber construction (EMTC) buildings with as many as 18 storeys for residential and office buildings, an increase from the previous 12-storey limit;
  • expand EMTC to new building types, such as schools, libraries, retail, light- and medium-industrial occupancies, and care facilities; and
  • allow for more exposed mass timber in buildings, based on a building’s height and use, such as residential buildings with as many as eight storeys.

“This is another step forward for British Columbia’s world-class mass-timber sector as we continue to accelerate the adoption of this strong, clean building technology,” said Jagrup Brar, minister of state for trade, and chair of the Mass Timber Advisory Council. “Through our Mass Timber Action Plan, we are diversifying both our forestry and construction industries to build a strong, clean and sustainable economy that works for people.”

At 18 storeys, Brock Commons in Vancouver is one of Canada’s tallest mass timber buildings. – University of British Columbia

The BC Building Code changes for mass timber were developed by a national joint task group co-chaired by B.C. and Quebec. The code changes were reviewed by an expert technical advisory group that included representatives from multiple provinces, the fire services community, fire safety engineers, technical building code experts, regulators and industry.

Other provinces are expected to follow B.C.’s lead and adopt these changes into their building codes. The code changes will be submitted into the national code system for future consideration for the national building codes.

This month Ontario announced its own plans to expand the use of advanced wood construction like mass timber to new heights. Currently, Ontario’s Building Code allows Encapsulated Mass Timber Construction buildings to be up to 12-storeys tall. Officials said they intend to amend the Ontario Building Code in the coming months to permit encapsulated mass timber construction up to 18 storeys.

Advancing mass-timber technology is part of B.C.’s Homes for People action plan, to address the housing crisis through a variety of innovative approaches, including in the construction sector. This means embracing new technologies like digital design, mass timber and prefabrication to cut down on construction times and on-site labour needs to build more housing faster.

The province has also focused on increased density in urban areas through small-scale multi-unit housing and transit-oriented development, creating more mass-timber opportunities to build homes more quickly with a lower carbon footprint.

From precarious circumstances to the helm of one of Canada’s largest and most innovative general contractors, Tim Coldwell’s journey has been nothing short of remarkable. Now, he’s done something even more surprising—he’s reinvented himself once again.

“Over my years at Chandos, I have reinvented myself several times,” he wrote in a farewell message months ago. “Having the courage to do so has been an important part of my story. But this time, the reinvention could only happen outside of Chandos, the company that has given me so much. Having accomplished my goals at Chandos, it is time to reinvent myself once again. And so, I depart Chandos to write my next chapter.”

During his tenure, Coldwell was a driving force propelling the company to the forefront of progressive contract models such as IPD. His legacy includes working with the team to take the company national and more than doubling enterprise value all while pioneering social procurement and spearheading Chandos’ achievement as the largest B-Corp certified national technical builder in the world.

What prompted the urge to reinvent himself? Coldwell explained that as a 41-year-old man reconnecting with his Indigenous roots, he found his worldview beginning to change. He wanted to have an impact on the world that went beyond his seat in a corporate boardroom. 

Indigenous Roots

Coldwell didn’t know about his Indigenous heritage growing up. 

“It wasn’t something we talked about,” he said. “In 1985, Bill C-31 was passed to abolish enfranchisement and restore status to those who had lost status through enfranchisement. As a result, I gained status as a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. It was my aunt who told me stories about my ancestors. I am a direct descendant of several prominent Mohawk leaders who shaped Canada”

Coldwell explained that his family and many of my friends wanted him to follow in the steps of his father, uncle and grandfather to become a member of the clergy. 

“I’ve always had an appreciation for people who dedicate their lives in service to others,” he said. “But the clergy wasn’t for me. I wondered if I could be of service in other ways. Most importantly, I wanted to be true to myself.”

After finding work at a lumber mill, it was the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte that gave him his first big break: a scholarship to attend engineering at the University of Alberta which he used to launch his career at Chandos. But that disconnection from his Indigenous roots lingered from his childhood. 

“It’s like gravity. There is this pull that makes me want to learn the culture that I had been separated from,” said Coldwell. “Many Indigenous people have a spiritual connection to the land. I remember fly fishing in the Grand River for the first time and standing on Forester’s Island in Tyendinaga where my grandparents once lived. There is a powerful sense of connection to ‘this place’ that comes over me. It’s hard to explain.”

He explained that the folks at the First Nations Technical Institute in Tyendinaga treated him like a long lost family member.

“They introduced me to Chief Don Maracle who signed the letter that changed my life by telling me the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte would support my education,” said Coldwell. “I took my family to their first Pow Wow at Six Nations. I met cousins that I never knew I had. There is no question that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for help from the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. I’ve got to pay that forward the best I know how.”

Coldwell is now on a journey to learn Indigenous values and ways of being. 

“A colonial worldview is rooted in the idea of ownership – ‘that’s mine’,” says Coldwell. “An Indigenous worldview says these things are shared – it’s ours. Colonialism measures status and prestige by what you own and what you accumulate. For traditional Indigenous people, status and prestige is about what you give away to your community. Think about that. I’m starting to get my head around it.” 

He explained that unlike Western society, which believes each child is born with rights, the Mohawk believe that each person is born with a number of responsibilities.

“To themselves, to their families, to their Nation and to the natural and spiritual worlds around them,” said Coldwell. “You don’t have any rights until you have fulfilled your responsibilities. A colonial worldview is ‘me first’ while an Indigenous perspective is ‘others first’.”

Make What Matters

When thinking about his reinvention, Coldwell had lots of options. But he knew he wanted to continue his mission to use business as a force for good. The answer came after meeting legendary businessman and “Dragon’s Den” investor Wes Hall who Coldwell got to know after being named a Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year in 2021. 

“Wes’ story is amazing,” said Coldwell. Hall grew up in a tin shack in Jamaica. Every day, he went to school barefoot because his family couldn’t afford to buy him shoes. After moving to Toronto as a teenager, Hall got a job in the mailroom of a prominent law firm and went on to found Kingsdale Advisors and many other businesses. Beyond his business success, Hall has used his connections and influence to combat systemic racism. 

“I knew I would learn a lot from Wes, so I sought him out and we started chatting about the idea of a real estate advisory business that would use the power of real estate supply chains to build a more inclusive society, a society where nobody is left behind,” said Coldwell. “What if we could reduce development costs for our clients and address Canada’s skilled trade shortage by using supply chains to bring hope and opportunity to thousands of youth? What if we did that?”

The result is Énska Advisors, a new venture the pair are launching this week. The word Énska means “one” in Mohawk and has layered meaning. He explained that a fundamental Mohawk value is being of “one mind” when making decisions, the idea of having one life to live, the realization that we are all one. “We chose this name because one person, project, or company can start a movement and because we recognize that we can’t do it alone,” said Coldwell. “True systemic change only occurs when we do it together, as one.”

Building a Legacy

Coldwell explains that the value proposition of the firm is simple. Énska reduces development costs while simultaneously delivering third-party verified social and environmental outcomes at zero premium cost. This allows the firm’s clients to confidently report project benefits. “Doing the right thing often comes with a price tag,” says Coldwell. “Énska plans and governs the project so there is no premium.” Énska Advisors has three primary service offerings:

  • Real Estate Advisory – Site selection, project business case development, obtaining funding and developing supply chain strategies to reduce costs and maximize impact.
  • Project Governance – Assembling high-performing teams and governing projects with visionary leaders who have executive presence and industry knowledge. 
  • Indigenous Capital – Accelerating economic self-determination by advising First Nations entering the real estate, construction or clean energy businesses.

The firm has also adopted what they call the “Fifty by 50” initiative to address Canada’s skilled trades shortage. Coldwell and Hall’s goal is to start a movement that provides 50,000 youth by 2050 with the same life-changing opportunities they received. Coldwell believes that he isn’t just trying to build a company. He is trying to build a legacy that will be making a difference long after he is gone in keeping with Indigenous teachings. 

“There is a concept called the Seven Generation Principle,” says Coldwell. “It’s this idea that the decisions you make today should benefit your descendants seven generations in the future. “I’m a big fan of the musical Hamilton. There’s this line at the end, ‘And when my time is up, have I done enough? Will they tell my story?’ I’m interested in asking, ‘what must we do today so people living seven generations from now will tell our story in a good way?’”

Coldwell wants to measure his life by impact.

“This idea of impacting 50,000 youth by 2050 is the kind of life goal I can get behind,” he said. “I’d like my tombstone to say, ‘loving husband, father and business leader who proved that you can be wildly successful by using business as a force for good.’ Too many people get trapped in either/or thinking. Purpose or profit. There is a way to have both. Purpose and profit. We only have one life to live. Let’s make it matter.”

When you’re trying to navigate the municipal requirements, zoning, setbacks and consultant requirements, the nuances can be overwhelming.

You can get tied up in bureaucracy and red tape. It seems to get more complicated every year, and things don’t seem to be getting any easier.

“It used to be a lot simpler when I started, but the times have changed and we have to adapt to the new environment,” explained Dave Krahn, president and CEO of Krahn Group. “The number of consultants that are required for development permits and building permit applications—and the number of applications and submissions that need to be made, for something as simple as an industrial warehouse—have increased significantly. This is a combination of more governing bodies, increased regulations and the complexity of the sites and projects that we now work on.”   

Vast experience 

Dave knows this better than most. After founding Krahn engineering in 1984, he spent decades working as a structural engineer and saw how his projects would be held up by permit wait times and all the upfront consulting and coordination work that needed to be done.  

“If we started to provide these other consulting services and have more of them in-house we could at least make this consulting work be as fast and efficient as possible, making the process simple for our clients, while also helping build our relationships with the cities and governing bodies,” said Krahn.

Over the years, Krahn started to add different disciplines to form the Krahn Group, which now encompasses Architecture (with KP Architecture Ltd), Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Civil, Landscape and Building Performance. They are a multi-disciplinary consulting company providing services to the development and construction industry across Canada. They have decades of experience in industrial, self-storage, commercial, multifamily and institutional projects.

Dave Krahn, president and CEO of Krahn Group

“I wanted to provide a truly simple process for developers and contractors,” said Krahn. “They already have such a demanding and difficult job, we wanted to make the design, engineering and consulting process as easy and simple for them as possible, give them solutions and not headaches.”

Currently, Krahn has offices in B.C., Alberta, Ontario for Canada and an office in Arizona for the U.S. Why expand across Canada and now into the States? Their clients operate in different regions and countries and want to leverage Krahn’s experience and services.

“We are able to service the entire west coast and the prairies out of our B.C. and Alberta offices, with the east coast being handled out of Ontario. We also opened our Phoenix, Arizona office to expand and service the clients there. We simply went where our clients were going and doing work and continued to pick up new ones in the different markets we entered,” Krahn noted.

Understanding the industry

“We also understand that although we can provide fully integrated services, we don’t always need to, nor do our clients always want us to,” said Krahn.

Many contractors and developers might already have their preferred team of consultants or individuals that they work with on certain projects. They may have worked with these groups for many years and have strong relationships with them. 

“That is why I set up our disciplines to be their own individual companies.,” said Krahn. “For example, a client may have an architect already and now needs us just to do the structural, electrical and mechanical engineering. We can do this no problem and allows us to work with all different types of consultants, instead of just our own internal team, which helps our teams better understand the construction market and different techniques for design and engineering.”

This openness and collaboration within the industry has allowed Krahn to work with other great architects and engineers on a varying array of projects, building their knowledge and relationships along the way.

“I sometimes think that since we do this, our clients don’t even know the full scope of services and value that we provide,” Krahn explained. “They will have worked with our engineering department on many projects and will be telling us that they love working with us but are now doing a project that their current architect does not have the expertise in, we say, we can do the architectural work. really, they say. you guys do that as well?”

Krahn Group focuses on providing these services for small to medium-sized projects. There are extremely large engineering firms with tens of thousands of employees, but these are focused on extremely large institutional and infrastructure projects.

“There was no real multi-disciplinary firm that was doing this for small to mid-sized projects, say for a townhouse, six storey apartment or warehouse project,” Said Krahn.” I wanted our clients to have this simplicity, but also have the services of a smaller firm, where they were dealing directly with the engineer of the project and there weren’t layers of bureaucracy. I always said that if we ever started to act like a ‘big’ organization, I would quit, and we could shut everything down.” 

Service, Service, Service

This attitude emanates through the Krahn group and can be seen in their company culture and how they approach their work and clients. 

“I have always said to our team, the three most important things that you can provide as a consultant are ‘Service, Service, Service,’” Krahn noted. “Even if  it’s texting your client on the weekend with an update, our team wants to go above and beyond to ensure that we are providing real value and service to our clients.”

This attitude also leads into their collaborative solutions they provide on their projects. 

“We understand that the contractor/developer usually knows the best way to build things and the cost implications, so asking them what they would want to do and what the implications of this are. We are just here to verify and make sure we can design/engineer what they want,” clarified Krahn.

This has led the Krahn Group to become a trusted client partner in the projects they work on.

“We want to be the ones the clients know that they can turn to” Krahn explained. “They know we have the experience and expertise to deliver on their projects. We let our people, projects and work for itself. It’s worked for me for 40 years and is why we have such great relationships in the industry.”

If you’re looking for design and engineering consultants for your next project, explore all the services  Krahn Group offers today. They’re your partner in navigating the architecture and engineering sector.