ACEC Communiqué - June 1999

In this issue:

  1. Online Shopping at ACEC!
  2. ACEC Documents Free to Members
  3. ACEC to Moderate Industry Discussions on the Web
  4. Erratum
  5. Update: ACEC CD-ROM Directory
  6. 1999 Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards
  7. National Infrastructure Campaign
  8. 1999 National Convention
    • Infrastructure - The Economics of Inattention
    • Limiting Risk while Meeting Client Expectations
    • Increases in Program Lending in Asia
    • Public-Private Partnerships - How to Climb the Food Chain
  9. Solution in Sight for Design/Build Contract Disputes with Contractors
  10. Is your company profile up to date?

Online Shopping at ACEC!

The new "E-Shoppe" is open for business. In a recent mailing to all ACEC member firm offices, a notice explaining the procedure was distributed as part of ACEC's Publications List. The notice included the user name and password for members only, which is available to any employee of an ACEC member firm by contacting Dan Matko at The service is completely secure and can handle transactions using both VISA and MasterCard.

ACEC Documents Free to Members

Through the new E-Shoppe, members can download electronic versions of some of ACEC's standard contracts in Adobe PDF format. These documents, previously available in hard copy only at a nominal cost, are now free to members in either format. To obtain these documents, go to the E-Shoppe via the "Publications" page, enter as an ACEC member, select from the document list and - if an electronic version exists - a link to the document will appear below the document description. Simply click and save the file to disk for later viewing and printing. Please note that the files are not directly editable. Anyone with questions or difficulties is encouraged to contact Dan Matko for guidance.

ACEC to Moderate Industry Discussions on the Web

Watch your inbox or fax machine in the next few days for a major ACEC announcement regarding a new service.

ACEC has been working with Global Interactive Communications of Ottawa to establish a multilingual web-based discussion system that will allow any visitor to ACEC's web site to leave comments on current industry issues posted by ACEC, allowing also for anyone to respond to posted comments. In addition, the system will be secured for discussions involving ACEC committees or task forces, thus making the conduct of Association business more effective and efficient. The system is in final stages of verification, and ACEC expects to make the launch notification in the next few days.


ACEC published its national membership list in the June/July issue of Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine, from which Dillon Consulting Ltd. and Paragon Engineering were absent due to a reporting error. Indeed, ACEC would like to assure them and all its members that these firms are active members of the Association, and extends to them its apologies for any inconvenience.

Update: ACEC CD-ROM Directory

Visit the ACEC web site to download an updated patch file for the search functions of the 1999-2000 ACEC Directory on CD-ROM. The revision clarifies the posting of contact names within company records as they were defined by member firms in the annual Corporate Data Update.

1999 Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards

The date is set: October 20th at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto beginning around 6:00 pm. All entries have been judged and the lucky winners have been advised. Tickets for this year's showcase event are not yet on sale, but you can get on the advance list by visiting the ACEC web site, following the link to the "Events" page and filling out the online form, which will put you in the queue. Anyone needing more information can contact Clara Higgerty at

Notice to ALL 1999 Award participants (both winners and non winners):

Remember to send in at least 5 visuals of your project submission, which will be included in the screen production for the Awards presentation. ACEC intends to use this multimedia/video production as an industry marketing tool for domestic and international use - which means Award participants benefit from advertising worth tens of thousands of dollars for FREE!!

Contact Dan Matko for details.

National Infrastructure Campaign

In the next few days, you should receive an "Infrastructure Works" Campaign package containing material for your use this summer. ACEC will continue to lobby at the National level, but your help at the community level is more important. We are asking you to send the sample letter provided in the package to raise the awareness of elected officials at the federal, provincial and municipal levels from your area. We are asking you to schedule appointments with them and present them with an information sheet produced by ACEC specifically on the need for infrastructure investment, which can also serve as talking points for yourself. And, finally we are asking you to let us know of the progress you are making. Should you have questions or comments, please contact Tim Page or Anne-Marie Schneider.

1999 National Convention

Thank you to all the delegates, patrons, sponsors and speakers. ACEC has received very positive comments on a strong business program and good networking opportunities. For those who could not attend this year's National Convention, ACEC will soon be adding a section on its web site for the speaker's notes. A notice will be sent once the session notes are posted.

Infrastructure - The Economics of Inattention

Infrastructure investment is ACEC's number one policy priority for 1999. Roger Mareschal of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Steve McCall of the Canadian Automobile Association talked about the impact of inadequate infrastructure on society and the economy. Mareschal raised several key points:

McCall highlighted the fact that "roadways haven't kept up with the exponential growth of population, urbanization and vehicle use". A serious consequence of inattention has been the avoidable 247 deaths and 16,000 injured per year that contribute to higher health care costs across the country. Statistical information on the road infrastructure deficit and its impact will soon be available on our web site.

Limiting Risk while Meeting Client Expectations

Lloyd McCoomb of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, Jeremy Kon of UMA Group Inc and Derek Holloway of ENCON, representing the perspectives of the owner, the consulting engineer and the insurance company respectively, talked of means to limit risk and of the relationship with the owner, particularly as they relate to Design/Build projects.

While the owner is looking for consultants with the ability to cope calmly with problems and to manage scope and time, the consulting engineer is looking for owners with the knowledge and experience to apply a fair and comprehensive selection process, i.e. adequate project definition, pre-qualification of up to 3 proponents to maintain close to a 1 in 2 chance of winning, proposal evaluation criteria that include life cycle costing, etc. From the insurance perspective, Holloway pointed to cost overruns resulting from design errors and omissions in SPECs as the main source of risk.

Final Message: choosing the right work with the right owner and contractor, planning responsibilities and maintaining open communication lines are all part of managing risk. The ENCON guide entitled "Practice Management - A practical guide for PLI for design firms", first released at the seminar, can be obtained by calling ENCON at 1-613-786-2000.

Increases in Program Lending in Asia

Julian Payne, Canadian Executive Director at the ADB, presented an informative session on developments at the ADB affecting opportunities for consulting engineers. Payne stated that the Bank was reallocating its resources in response to the impact the Asian crisis has had on domestic economies' ability to deal with social issues among other problems. As a result, he reported that program lending at the Bank would increase by 15 - 25%. Payne commented that some will be pleased to know China has re-emerged as the Bank's largest borrower. Lending to the country will be entirely in the form of project loans, and will focus on infrastructure and agriculture. He noted that firms should also expect stiffer competition for Technical Assistance contracts, since they have become fewer in number but more important in length and value.

The Bank's adoption of an anti-corruption policy identical to that of the World Bank provoked some animated discussion from the audience. Some expressed the view that corrupt practices won't change without improving the salaries of foreign public officials, and that Canadian consulting firms would end up paying the price by adhering to the policy.

One tip was offered to firms interested in India and Pakistan: start gathering information now on the 1999 loans that have been put on hold. Once the sanctions on these countries are lifted, they will move very quickly.

Public-Private Partnerships - How to Climb the Food Chain

In the context of the estimated 2300 PPPs valued at US$1.5 trillion to be developed internationally over the next 10 years, this seminar focused on the most effective role for consulting engineers to play. Session Chair Normand Morin of SNC-Lavalin indicated that, while the US is leading in the number and value of PPPs and while the UK, Chile, Mexico and Australia have programs in place, there have been very few projects in Canada to date.

Despite the Canadian industry's strengths, it is not seizing the opportunities. "Canadian firms are small and undercapitalized. Even the largest Canadian player is a small international player." Representing the public sector, Stephen Wheatley of the New Brunswick Department of Supply and Services (NB DSS) stated that, because of fiscal limitations and a desire to stimulate the building industry, his government will be using increasingly the PPP project delivery method. NB DSS is looking for value for money, risk sharing and operating leases.

Simon Chapman of AGRA talked of PPP contractual and financial structures, and provided some practical tips, particularly when dealing with foreign governments. He suggested that firms should evaluate their skill set and risk appetite and, if they are not sufficient, the firms should participate as the lender's engineer on projects of increasing size as they become more familiar with the ins and outs of the PPP project delivery method. Duncan McCallum, RBC Dominion Securities, warned however that "smaller projects are the ones which are most liable to get upset by the ratio between bid costs and future profits."

Solution in Sight for Design/Build Contract Disputes with Contractors

ACEC believes a solution has been found to the 2-year stalemate between CCA and ACEC over the role attributed to the consultant in Doc. 14 (Owner-Design/Builder Contract) and in the draft Doc. 15 (Design/Builder-Consultant Contract). The solution involves the following:

This proposal has now been approved by the CCA, RAIC and ACEC. Approval of Doc. 14 and 15 by ACEC is pending drafting of appropriate language to reflect the proposed consensus achieved.

In the meantime, members are still advised to use Doc. 14 with the awareness of the difficult role the consultant is asked to play. A revised version of Doc. 14 and the new Doc. 15 should be available later this Fall.

Is your company profile up to date?

With the advent of the new and improved members' zone on the ACEC web site, a few visitors have enquired with us to find out how accurate the various member profiles are.

As much as we can update the information currently contained in the ACEC membership database as we receive it -- and consequently the Membership Directory and the Member Web Listings -- the onus is on each member firm to provide us with accurate contact and address information.

Visit the ACEC Web site at and jump to the "Members" page. Click on the province in which your head office is located and find your firm in the list. If you have either an email address, a web site or a Company Profile on the ACEC CD-ROM Directory, you will find a link for your company on those pages.

Verify that the information is accurate, and report any discrepancies to the Sitemaster using the link at the top of the page. Do this regularly, whenever there is a change in your company's coordinates, so that potential clients can find you exactly where you want to be.