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How vacating liens just doubled in price

By Sven T. Hombach, Fillmore Riley LLP

Construction liens are an unfortunate reality of virtually every large construction project, and many smaller ones as well. Designed to ensure that building trades are protected from non-payment, they have a history in Canada that dates back more than 100 years. Site owners who have ever had to deal with an insolvent contractor are well familiar with paying twice - once to the contractor, and once more to the unpaid trades who filed liens. However, in light of a recent Manitoba Court of Appeal decision, contractors are now facing that issue as well, at least on a temporary basis.

While the rules of construction liens are complex, the concept is very simple – unpaid contractors or trades can claim a lien against the underlying land. Since the land has value, the party who claims the lien will ultimately get paid, either because the owner has to remove the lien and pay out the party who filed it, or because the land is sold and the party who filed the lien is paid out of the proceeds of sale.

Smart organizations can begin planning now

By Barbara J. Bowes, Legacy Bowes Group

We all know it’s been happening – the baby boomer exit, that is. To date, it’s been fairly innocuous. Yet, businesses are being impacted by baby boomer retirements. For instance, many small business owners have had to look to the potential of mergers and acquisitions as a means to exit their business.

That’s because the challenge for small businesses is that not many organizations can afford to have an up-and-coming leader working as an “understudy,” especially for a lengthy period; it’s just too expensive. The result is a loss of corporate knowledge within many organizations, big and small, and the creation of a growing leadership gap.

Couple this challenge with the fact that the leadership skills needed to take organizations successfully into the future are quite different than today’s technical skills and management style. In fact, current leaders perceive that the one key skill missing from the up-and-coming group of leaders is collaboration. In their view, collaboration is important especially because of the demand to do more with less accompanied by a continually changing global marketplace. In turn, these demands will see an increased use not only of cross-functional teams and interdepartmental reliance but also project teams that span across different agencies and/or corporations.

Design-build and remote PDA testing

By John C. Ryan, Ph.D., P.Eng., Ryan Structural Engineers, LLC

Sharpening the proverbial pencil
It’s a familiar saying, and in an engineering office it may sound like this: “Four per cent overstress ... maybe I can sharpen the pencil and make it work.”

Despite the fact that a given balance between load and resistance cannot be “made to work,” there is some insight that this euphemism provides. In reality, deeper understanding of a problem is being sought with the intent of removing uncertainty. As engineers, we are inherently and appropriately risk averse. If we have not personally proven or maintained control of an idea from inception to completion, we become skeptical of it. In practice, this tends result in unnecessary conservatism, particularly where often-disconnected design professionals have tangential or overlapping responsibility. Such is the case with driven piles.

Much of the excessive conservatism that persists in the driven pile industry can be reduced significantly through a design method that treats the pile foundation as a performance specified component. Utilizing bid solicitations, which include pile design criteria and subsurface reports, foundation contractors, along with a driven-pile specialty engineer, can provide design-build solutions with pricing and schedule to be evaluated for best value. Further, by incorporating remote dynamic pile testing within the scope of the design-build team, the most optimized foundation and installation schedule can be achieved. If the pile specialty engineer and contractor team are engaged from concept through design and certification, the pencil is always sharp with respect to foundation design.

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Keller Foundations’ role in Toronto’s new underground transformer station

By Jim Chliboyko

When the construction of Toronto’s new downtown transformer station was announced, what was arguably the most amazing thing was the news that it was to be the city’s first downtown transformer station built since 1955. The power being routed through the new transformer station will not only supply Toronto’s financial district, but will give the existing infrastructure a bit of a break and an opportunity to get some maintenance done on the rapidly aging Windsor Transformer Station, a half-kilometre to the north.

Toronto Hydro’s estimated $195-million new station – located by the John Street CPR Roundhouse, a block or so away from both the CN Tower and Rogers Centre (the SkyDome) – is seen as the next step in strengthening the city’s electrical infrastructure. The company points out on its website that the population of the downtown area increased by 50 per cent in one five-year period alone (2006 to 2011), adding to increased electrical demand, and adding to the pressure on the Windsor station. The new station will add 144 MVA of capacity.

Occasionally, the transformer station is still referred to as the Bremner Transformer Station, though it’s recently been renamed the Clare R. Copeland Transformer Station (after a former chair of the Toronto Hydro board, who only just left the position in 2013 after 14 years as chairman). The area in question is at the southwestern corner of Rees and Lakeshore. It’s actually part of Toronto’s municipal parks system, known as Roundhouse Park, and the Roundhouse itself is considered a National Historic Site of Canada.

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.