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Ontario, Quebec reap huge infrastructure windfall

November 3, 2008  By Aggregates & Roadbuilding

This past summer saw the passing
of two men, Jack Cewe of Coquitlam, B.C. and Ian Jennings, P. Eng., of
Oakville, Ont., whose outstanding leadership in the Canadian aggregates
industry along with a deep commitment to both their family and their
community over many decades won’t soon be forgotten.

Industry bids farewell to two respected leaders

This past summer saw the passing of two men, Jack Cewe of Coquitlam, B.C. and Ian Jennings, P. Eng., of Oakville, Ont., whose outstanding leadership in the Canadian aggregates industry along with a deep commitment to both their family and their community over many decades won’t soon be forgotten.

The following tribute to Jack Cewe appeared in a recent issue of Screenings, the official publication of the Aggregates Producers Association of BC.:


On June 7, 2008, Jack Cewe passed away at the age of 86. A legend in the British Columbia heavy construction industry,  Jack spent his life in the gravel mining and general contracting business, starting his company Jack Cewe Ltd. in 1953. His construction business, including gravel
operations in Coquitlam and Jervis Inlet, have left a lasting impact on the communities they operated in for the past 50 years. Jack took his responsibilities towards his employees and his subcontractors very seriously and appreciated the effort they made to help him build his company.

In addition to his business, Jack had entrepreneurial interests, including bringing McDonald’s Restaurant franchise to Western Canada, cattle ranching and staking the first claim in Afton Mines. Jack loved horse racing and Keno, believing he could find the formula for the numbers for the next big win.

Jack had a great sense of timing and could tell a story like no other. He was extremely well spoken and read, with an intense interest in BC politics, economics and world affairs. He passed his passion on to his family and people around him. He loved a good fight, especially when he was sure he could win. Jack was always looking for that ideal contract with high margins and no other bidders. He will be dearly missed.

Ian Leslie Jennings passed away on July 31, 2008 at Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, a month before his 93rd birthday. He is survived by his wife of 69 years Sarah, his five sons and their spouses along with ten grandchildren, a great-grandchild and numerous nephews, nieces and other members of the ‘Jennings clan’.

Ian graduated in Mining Engineering from the University of Toronto in 1938 and proudly wore the iron ring of a professional engineer throughout the rest of his life. In 1939, Ian volunteered to fight with Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC). Initially training troops in Red Deer, Alberta, he later transited to England. He entered the European theatre via Normandy just weeks after D-Day. Ian rose to the rank of Major and was mentioned in dispatches.

Returning from the war in October 1945 after serving with the occupation forces in Germany, Ian began his career in the aggregates industry, first with Consolidated Sand and Gravel which he eventually heads, and then, in 1952, with Standard Paving & Materials (later a division of Lafarge Canada) as a vice president. He eventually retired as VP of Aggregates for Lafarge NA.

Ian was considered a far-sighted industry leader by his business and industry colleagues. He prospected, designed, built and oversaw a number of valuable pits and quarries in southern Ontario. He became president of the Aggregate producers Association of Ontario (now OSSGA), whom he joined in various sessions at least annually up until the year before his death. His work was also very much a fascinating hobby for him, included early experiments in equipment layout and pit and quarry rehabilitation. After ‘retiring’, he established a professional engineering practice and continued to be in demand in Canada, and sometimes abroad, until his late seventies. Through his second retirement, Ian participated in the Oakville Golf Club, the Oakville Club, Oakville Probus and R&R clubs, and bowled until his 90th year with the Oakville Lawn Bowling Club. Ian remained very generous throughout his life, as founding elder of Roseland United Church in Burlington, and through continuing and broadly based giving to medical and other charities.

Jack Cewe and Ian Jennings will continue to be an inspiration for us all.

Building permits rebound

After declining 5.3 per cent in June, the value of building permits increased 1.8 per cent to $6.4 billion in July. According to Statistics Canada, the recovery is due to an increase in multi-family dwelling permits in central Canada and industrial construction intentions in Saskatchewan.

In the residential sector, the permit value rose 2.7 per cent to $3.7 billion, mainly as a result of an increase in the value of multi-family dwelling permits in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. In the non-residential sector, the value of building permits edged up 0.6 per cent to $2.7 billion. An increase in industrial construction intentions more than offset declines in both commercial and institutional permits.

Following two consecutive monthly declines, Canadian municipalities issued $1.5 billion worth of permits for multi-family housing in July, up 9.6 per cent from June. At the same time, single-family units declined 1.4 per cent to $2.2 billion. Ontario accounted for more than half of the decline, while Quebec posted a second consecutive monthly increase in single-family housing units.

Municipalities approved 19,518 new residential dwellings in July, a monthly increase of 12 per cent, due mainly to a 24.4 per cent surge in multi-family units. The number of single family units declined 1.4 per cent in July to 8,257.

Industrial construction intentions rebounded sharply in July to $503 million, an increase of 26.3 per cent. This followed a 29.4 per cent drop in June. According to Statistics Canada, the July increase was due to the higher value of permits for mine buildings in Saskatchewan.

Construction intentions for commercial buildings declined 3.7 per cent to $1.5 billion, a second consecutive decline after reaching $1.7 billion in May. The decrease was due mainly to lower construction plans for trade and services buildings and warehouses. British Columbia and Ontario posted declines in several commercial categories.

After three consecutive monthly increases, the value of institutional permits decreased 4 per cent to $759 million, large because of declines in permits for health buildings in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec.

Six provinces saw permit values rise in July with the most significant increases occurring in Quebec where gains in both residential and non-residential sectors boosted values by 13.2 per cent to $1.3 billion.

Other significant increases were recorded in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

In contrast, British Columbia and Alberta posted declines in both the residential and non-residential sectors.

Of the 34 census metropolitan areas, Statistics Canada said 18 recorded increases in permit values in July. The largest increases occurred in Kitchener, Ont., with gains mainly in the residential sector, followed closely by Montreal and Saskatoon.

Vancouver and Edmonton saw declines in both residential and non-residential sectors in July.

Ontario, Quebec reap huge infrastructure windfall

The federal government has signed infrastructure agreements worth approximately $10.2 billion for Ontario and Quebec. Under the terms of the seven-year Building Canada Infrastructure Framework Agreement, some $6.2 billion will be provided to Ontario and $4 billion to Quebec to help fund their critical infrastructure projects.

The Ontario government says it will use the new Building Canada funding to boost its five-year, $30 billion-plus investment plan to be completed by 2010. The province is currently developing a long-term comprehensive strategy for the additional investment in infrastructure, totalling a least $60 billion.

Included among the priorities identified by Ontario under the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Framework Agreement are improvements to Highways 11/17 in Northwestern Ontario, funding rapid transit in the Waterloo region and the Huron Elgin London project for clean water. The province also plans to significantly expand rural broadband coverage in southern and eastern Ontario.

In addition to the $6.2 billion in guaranteed funding outlined in the Building Canada agreement, Ontario and its municipalities will also have potential access to the Gateways and Border Crossing Fund as well as the public-private Partnership Fund. Quebec says the federal financing will support the $30 billion of infrastructure investments that were announced in the 2007 provincial budget. Some of the immediate high priority projects that will receive a portion of the new federal funding include up to $112.5 million for Phase 2 of the improvements to Highways 73 and 175, up to $75 million for Phase 2 of the improvements to Robert-Cliche Autoroute (A-73) and a yet-to-be-determined amount for the completion of the 42-km western section of Autoroute 30 between Chateauguay and Vaudreuil-Dorion.

Edmonton ring road extension gets green light

Construction has started on the northwest leg of Anthony Henday Dr. in
Edmonton following the signing of a $1.42 billion public-private partnership
(P3) agreement between the Alberta government and Northwestconnect General Partnership, a consortium of international contractors. The 30-year contract calls for Northwestconnect to design, build, operate and finance the 21-km extension of Anthony Henday Dr. from Yellowhead Trail on the west side of Edmonton to Manning Dr. The P3 project also includes the maintenance of the new roadway. Northwestconnect submitted the lowest of three bids received for the project. The other bids were $1.49 billion and $1.65 billion. All bids were based on the net present value (NPV) of the project, or the value of the project in today’s dollars. According to the Alberta government, the cost of doing the work through traditional delivery methods is estimated at $1.66 billion in current dollars. The government said the northwest leg of the ring road will be open to traffic by the fall of 2011, two years earlier than would be the case using conventional delivery methods.

The 21-km north leg of the ring road will be free-flow with no signal lights and will include eight interchanges, five flyovers, and two rail crossings, for a total of 27 bridge structures. This is the third project to use Alberta’s P3 procurement model for highways. The arrangement was used to build the southeast leg of Anthony Henday Dr. It is also being used to complete the northeast leg of Calgary’s ring road, which will open to traffic in fall 2009.

 APS – The Engineered Wood Association 

Housing starts heat up in August

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reports that housing starts reached 211,000 units in August, up from 186,500 units in July on a seasonally adjusted annual rate.

“After a brief pause in July, the volatile multiple segment bounced back to a level of activity that is more consistent with our forecast for this year,” said Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre in Ottawa. “Most of the volatility in housing starts over the last three months reflected swings in multiple starts in Ontario.”

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts rose 15.2 per cent in August compared to July. Both urban multiples and singles moved higher, with an increase of 25.2 per cent for multiples to 114,700 units, and a 2 per cent increase for singles to 71,200 units.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts was down in every region except Ontario where housing units jumped 81 per cent to 86,500 units. Urban starts sagged 22.5 per cent to 23,700 units in the Prairies and dropped 11.5 per cent in Atlantic Canada. Smaller declines of 8.7 per cent and 8.2 per cent were recorded in Quebec (37,600 units) and British
Columbia (30,400 units, respectively.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 25,100 units in August.

For the first eight months of 2008, actual starts in rural and urban areas combined were down an estimated 4.3 per cent compared to the same period last year. Year-to-date actual starts have increased by an estimated 1 per cent over the same period in 2007. Actual urban single starts for the January to August period this year were 16.8 per cent lower than they were a year earlier, while urban multiple starts were up by 17.6 per cent over the same period.

Saskatchewan to recycle 130,000 tires in highway projects

Saskatchewan Infrastructure and Highways reports utilising an estimated 130,000 tires in several highway construction projects worth a combined total of more than $11 million.

Crumb rubber asphalt pavement, produced in part from scrap tires, is being used instead of conventional pavement for resurfacing projects on Highway 1 near Maple Creek, Highway 2 near Meacham and Highway 10 near Fort Qu’Appelle. This work will recycle an estimated 1,300 tires per lane per kilometre. Smaller resurfacing projects using similar technology in the Saskatoon area are estimated to recycle about 500 tires per lane per kilometre.

Highway 1 near Maple Creek will have more than 30 km of one lane resurfaced using rubber asphalt, which will recycle about 39,000 tires. The cost of the entire project is about $5 million. Production of aggregate is commencing this year, while paving is expected to follow in 2009. Highway 2 near Meacham will have almost 6 km resurfaced in each direction using rubber asphalt. This means about 15,600 tires will be recycled as both lanes are being resurfaced. The cost of the entire project is about $1.3 million. Construction began on August 26 and was completed in September. On Highway 10 near Fort Qu’appelle, about 17 km have been resurfaced in each direction using this innovative mixture. About 44,200 tires have been recycled between the two lanes of this work. The project cost was about $3.7 million. About 64 km of other lanes in the Saskatoon area on Highways 5, 7, 12, 15, 16 and 41 have used rubber asphalt in thin lift overlays. The total cost of this maintenance work was about $1.6 million and some 32,000 tires were recycled during these smaller resurfacing projects.

Scrap tires are collected, processed and recycled through a non-profit, non-government program run by the Saskatchewan Scrap Tire Corporation.

Upgrades to B.C.’s Hwy 97

In early September, the federal government and the British Columbia transportation ministry announced a series of road construction projects to upgrade and expand the Highway 97 corridor. A total of $81.7 million will be invested to improve four sections of the highway between Fort St. John and Kelowna. Other areas that will benefit from the upgrades are Prince George and Quesnel.

In the Fort St. John area, $14.8 million has been earmarked to create four lanes along a 3.2 km stretch of Highway 97 (Alaska Highway) from Road 271 to Charlie Lake. The Prince George work involves building a 4.6 km section of four-lane roadway between the Simon Fraser Bridge and Sintich Rd. at a cost of $30.8 million. In Quesnel, $21.5 million will be invested to construct four lanes along a stretch of Highway 97 from Dale Lake Rd. to Dragon Lake Rd. The work also involves replacing the existing Hixon Bridge with a four-lane structure.

The Highway 97 road work in Kelowna calls for creating six lanes on a 4 km section from Gordon Dr. to Highway 33. Approximately $10.5 million of the project’s $14.6 million cost is being jointly funded by the federal government by the Province of British Columbia with the City of Kelowna contributing the remaining $4.1 million.

All four Highway 97 improvement projects are scheduled for completion by fall 2009.

In late August, another major B.C. highway project was unveiled by the federal and provincial governments. This $42.8 million project consists of upgrading a 10.5 km, two-lane segment of the Trans-Canada Highway running through the Monte Creek to Pritchard area, 30 km east of Kamploops. The upgrading to four lanes will bridge the gap between two existing 4-lane sections. Of the total cost of the project, approximately 16.7 million is being provided by the federal government’s Building Canada Fund, and approximately $26.1 million is being funded by the province.

Ontario road contracts awarded

Coco Paving Inc., of Windsor, Ont. has been awarded two contracts totalling $11.62 million to widen Essex County Road 22 from two to four lanes from Lakeshore Blvd. to Patillo Rd. The project also includes the replacement of the Pike Creek Bridge and improvements at the Patillo Rd. intersection. Construction is scheduled for completion in 2009. Funding for the two contracts is being provided by the governments of Canada and Ontario, in partnership with the County of Essex, under the million Canada-Ontario Border Infrastructure Fund.  The fund is investing $300 million to improve cross-border transportation networks in the heavily-travelled Windsor-Essex corridor.

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