CIQS — Prairies and Northwest Territories   May 30, 2018

May 2018 Cost Connections

Executive Update
Message from the President
Where did spring 2018 go? Weather-wise, we all seem to have gone from never-ending winter to hot, dry summer!
Professionally, the past few months have zipped by in a blur of activity and progress on several fronts, wrapping up CIQS 2017/18 and beginning 2018/19 with the CIQS Prairies & NWT AGM held May 4 in Calgary.
I am very pleased with the Prairies & NWT 2018/19 Board of Directors. We have a deep base of experience and one new Board member offering a younger, fresh perspective. Peter Bhullar is fulfilling the busy position of Calgary Chapter rep and has shown his enthusiasm to take over responsibility for the events, tours and other professional development activities in Calgary.
A Special Meeting of Members (SMM) took place after the AGM, giving members a chance to vote on the restructuring proposal put forward by National and the subsequent bylaw amendments. Current bylaws require a two-thirds majority of registered members at the AGM to pass a special resolution. The Prairies & NWT membership voted to support the restructuring proposed by National, to move away from an association of associations model to an association of members model.
I will carry that “Yes” vote to National at the summer Congress, to be held in Halifax. If the national vote approves the restructuring proposal, all affiliates will be required to wind down their individual corporations. That will mean some changes to the structure of our Board but many other things will remain the same, including the ample opportunities available for volunteers to manage local initiatives such as advocacy and events.
Over the next term, the priority of our Board is to continue the momentum we’ve created on our advocacy initiatives, events and project tours, and collaboration with like-minded organizations and other opportunities to learn, network and raise the profile of our organization and profession.
Outreach is particularly vital as we move forward. This includes reaching out to provincial bodies, construction associations and major developers to strengthen our ties and ensure our members are seen as valuable and required team members for a project’s success.
In fact, many hands make light work! The work Prairies & NWT can achieve on behalf of its members depends entirely on how many volunteers come forward to share it. You don’t need to be a formal member of the Board to volunteer. The benefits of stepping forward remain exactly the same as for current Board members.
On the national CIQS front, our recent meeting was held in Montreal. Traditionally, national meetings have been held in Markham, Ontario, home of the CIQS head office. CIQS Executive Director Sheila Lennon has begun a new initiative to have these meetings hosted by various affiliates, to coordinate with planned local events. I think this is a great idea. Having the national Board visit various affiliates increases the relationship between the national Board and local members.
Our Prairies & NWT affiliate will host the national meeting in Winnipeg sometime this fall.
Also, National is making progress on the lobbyist initiative. A firm has been chosen and work on the file should begin sometime this fall, covering both federal and provincial levels. National is still working on finding a new graphic design firm to help us refresh our marketing materials. This will include a toolkit for affiliates to use when they are involved in advocacy and outreach initiatives.
Have a great and safe summer! As ever, please feel free to Email me anytime should you have any feedback or questions about CIQS. I commit to getting back to you as quickly
Michael Gabert, PQS
President, CIQS – Prairies & N.W.T.
2018/2019 Prairies & NWT Board
Congratulations to your CIQS Prairies and Northwest Territories Board of Directors. Board positions were determined at the first Board meeting held after the May 4 AGM.
President & CIQS Representative Michael Gabert
Vice President Jerry Crawford
Past President Wendy Hobbs
Treasurer Ryan Devereux
Secretary Carl Pedersen
Education Director Sudhir Jha
Newsletter Director Roger Ward
Calgary Chapter Representative/Marketing Peter Bhullar
Winnipeg Chapter Representative Carl Pedersen
Edmonton Chapter Representative Tom Tamayo
From left: Carl Pedersen, Sudhir Jha, Peter Bhullar, Wendy Hobbs, Michael Gabert, Jerry Crawford, Ryan Devereux, Tom Tamayo, Sheila Lennon (CIQS Executive Director)
Board profile - Peter Bhullar
Peter Bhullar, the new Calgary Chapter rep on the CIQS Prairies & NWT board, credits his success to date in the cost consulting profession to two strengths: understanding his interests and aptitudes, and keeping his professional vision flexible.
From the time he was a small child, this Calgarian enjoyed building, fixing and learning how things work as well as working with numbers. “I see my career connecting directly to my childhood hobby,” says Peter. “It was pretty obvious I would go into something technical.”
And so he did. Peter enrolled in the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering in 2005. He completed the first three years of his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, then got some practical experience during a 16-month internship with three different firms representing a consultant, an owner and a contractor. He spent five months with the consulting firm AMEC Foster Wheeler (Earth & Environment Division), five months with Alberta Infrastructure & Transportation, representing a project owner, and concluded his internship with a six-month stint with contractor Bremner Engineering & Construction Ltd.
Peter then finished his fourth and final year of the degree program – and started his job search. He could hardly have chosen a worse time to graduate and start looking for his first professional job with the Alberta economy reeling from the recession of 2008.
Fortunately, Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) recognized his talents and potential and hired him in October 2010 as Assistant MEP Cost Manager.
“Cost consulting found me rather than me finding the career,” reflects Peter. “I really enjoy manipulating numbers all day. This is what got me interested in the career.”
After working at RLB for two years, he was able to complete construction level estimates on small projects. “My progress in cost consulting is because of Office Manager Roy Baxter’s mentorship and knowledge transfer,” recalls Peter. “Soon after I started doing estimates independently, Mr. Baxter left the firm and the Calgary office staff reduced from four to three. Many of the office management duties were passed on to me.” Within about five years, he had progressed to the position of Senior Manager with RLB.
After serving RLB for seven years, Peter found new opportunities with Turner & Townsend in November 2017 as Senior Consultant.
“I would describe myself as an average professional in the middle of my career. Cost consulting has been very satisfying,” offers Peter. Currently, Peter focuses on mining estimates and, when time allows, estimating electrical and mechanical aspects for commercial builds.
He’s philosophical about the turn in his career path from engineering to cost consulting. “Engineering would have been a different path, and both careers equally satisfying. I could have ended up anywhere, really, so long as I enjoy what I do.”
He sees the advantages of cost consulting for other young people looking at good careers. “A career in construction consulting is very rewarding and secure in Canada as the economy is young and the opportunity is vast.”
He advises young people thinking about careers in cost consulting, engineering or construction to acquire construction knowledge outside their academic studies. “You will soon find that having knowledge of building systems and construction economics, and staying current with the market, will go a long way at your job interview.”
As he recalls his own interviews, he says employers want to see what you bring to the table. “Being proactive will help you a lot.”
Before Peter joined CIQS, he was a member of APEGA and AACE. “Joining CIQS and attaining the PQS designation was almost a requirement of my former employer. As a part of earning PQS, CIQS required me to take two construction courses. Preparations for these courses forced me to think outside my comfort zone. That proved very beneficial for how I prepare estimates and how I approach a project.”
He also recalls the PQS process was more exacting than the designation processes of APEGA and AACE. “It was certainly the most challenging of the three, but it’s good to keep it rigorous.”
He is grateful of events hosted by CIQS, as this is how he connected him with his current employer, Turner & Townsend. “CIQS events and site tours are great. The association is making the right efforts to elevate the profession and improve its members’ knowledge base.”
Peter made the decision to volunteer as a Board member to connect even more deeply with the profession. “This is a totally new experience for me but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Peter Bhullar, PQS – Calgary Chapter rep
Membership Update
Our great events – photo collages
The CIQS Prairies & NWT events are adding energy, commitment and pride in our affiliate. Huge kudos to the organizers in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg. To those of you who attended and participated in these sessions, let us know how we’re doing, and what other CPD sessions you would enjoy.
Here are a few photos from selected recent events.
Governance Restructuring Information Session
March 13, Winnipeg
Value Methodology with Martyn Phillips
March 20, Winnipeg
Multivista Presentation with Christopher Vance
March 22, Edmonton
PEG Events
April 5-6, Edmonton
April 5, PEG Event, Part 1
April 6, PEG Event, Part 2
Telus Sky Office Tower Site Tour
April 26, Calgary
At an estimated cost of $440 Million, Calgary's third tallest building landmark will be unique and unlike any other mixed use development that will energize the downtown core visually both day and night with the LED lighting array incorporated into the project. Here’s a glimpse of CIQS members taking in the build.
CIQS Updates
The Young Quantity Surveyors Program
You know the power of the young. CIQS knows it, too – and has taken steps to ensure the brightest and best joining our profession are respected, supported and applauded. CIQS has developed The Young Quantity Surveyors Program.
Check out the program’s video that includes interviews with members from across the globe. The members take us through the benefits to a YQS program and what it means to them.
Like it? Spread the word through the social media of your choice! YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Industry Update
Economic update for the prairies
Economic dashboard
(as of April 1, 2018 unless otherwise stated)
  Calgary CMA Edmonton CMS Saskatchewan
Total building permit values (Q1 2018) $1.5 billion $1.3 billion $406.6 million
Consumer Price Index (measuring inflation rate) 2.4% 2.5% 2.5%
Unemployment rate 8.0% 6.6% 6.3%
*Comparable information not available
for Winnipeg and Yellowknife
Calgary – the details
Housing starts in Calgary CMA – 831 (March 2018)
Calgary is expected to experience modest stable economic growth through 2022. GDP growth at 2% is expected in line with continued modest growth in consumer spending. Non-residential investment is expected to be muted due to high condo and office vacancy rates that are expected to remain for an extended time.
Construction activity in the housing sector is expected to remain below average due to lower levels of net migration, lower household formation rates and higher interest rates. The demographics of Calgary support continued housing construction in Calgary. To2022 we anticipate a need for 15,600 new single-family dwellings and almost 20,000 total new dwellings.
The office vacancy rate in Calgary is expected to remain elevated above industry norms to 2022. The unemployment rate in Calgary is dropping but the job makeup in Calgary is shifting. Job losses because of oil prices dropping in late 2015 were mainly in engineering and technical service jobs, mostly downtown but also in Calgary’s suburbs. Today, those jobs are being replaced by service level jobs that generally don’t require as much office space. The outlook calls for elevated office space vacancies throughout the forecast horizon. 
The combination of weak population and employment growth and higher interest rates is expected to depress future building permit values. Relatively high vacancy rates in the multi-family residential and non-residential markets should also weigh on the construction of new space. The forecast for building permit values is $3.6 billion in 2018, down from $4.5 billion in 2017.
Prices & costs
The consumer price index inflation rate is expected to average 2.0 per cent in 2018 and 2019 as a result of increasing costs for imported goods due to a lower Canadian dollar and higher inflation pressures in the U.S. and Ontario.
Non-residential building costs continued to fall in the first half of 2017, but the trend is now reversed. In total, construction prices have fallen by 3.2% since 2015. In 2018, price pressures from an increasingly active U.S. economy, higher Canadian interest rates as well as a lower Canadian dollar would cause construction costs to increase 2.9%. In 2019, we expect to see a pause in construction inflation but 2020 is expected to see some pent-up inflation passed on with a 3.3% increase in prices.
Non-residential sector
The recent run-up in global energy prices has increased prices for imported construction materials in Alberta beyond our original expectations. Muted construction inflation in Alberta as a result of a moderately improving economy is now outweighed by price pressures from the U.S. for imported construction materials.
Today’s construction inflation is slightly less than 3%.
Longer term, increased cost pressures from increased world oil prices, increased domestic interest rates and a continued low valued Canadian dollar would conspire to see Calgary non-residential building inflation average 2.4% per year over the next five years.
Source: City of Calgary website
Edmonton – the details
Residential and non-residential building permits in Q1 totaled almost $1.3 billion, a 1.4% increase compared to Q4 2017 and a gain of almost 7% on a year-over-year basis. The increase is attributed to higher residential building permits which more than offset a decline in non-residential permits.
Residential building permits were almost 7% higher in Q1 2018 on quarter-over-quarter basis. The gain was driven by higher construction intentions for single-family dwelling units. On the non-residential side, construction intentions fell by almost 7% quarter-over-quarter in Q1 2018. The decline was attributed to a 42% drop in industrial building permits, which more than offset gains in commercial and institutional and governmental construction intentions.
Though building intentions in the non-residential sector remain volatile, construction intentions for commercial units increased for the second consecutive quarter in Q1 2018, which may be a sign of improvement. On balance, the level of construction activity in 2018 is expected to remain little changed from 2017.
Source: City of Edmonton Economic
Indicators: Building Permits, Q1 2018
Consumer Price Index (CPI)
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) reflects the prices consumers pay on an average basket of goods and measures changes in the consumer-based inflation rate. The prices used to determine the CPI represent average consumer purchases such as groceries, clothes, retail goods, rent and mortgage.
Annual inflation in the Edmonton CMA, as measured by the CPI, rose from an annual rate of 2.4% in March 2018 to 2.5% in April 2018. Increases in April 2018 were observed on a year-over-year basis for all shelter-related costs, with a particularly strong jump in costs related to water, natural gas and electricity, as well as gasoline.
Labour force
Employment in the Edmonton CMA rose by approximately 700 positions in April 2018. The gains were in part-time positions, as modest employment gains in the construction, manufacturing and public administration were largely offset by job losses in logistics, retail and wholesale trade as well as accommodation and food sectors. Edmonton’s unemployment rate fell marginally from 6.7% in March to 6.6% in April as the number of individuals in the active labour force fell.
The Edmonton region’s job gains in 2017 demonstrated that the region has begun a recovery from the downturn in 2016. Despite the month-over-month decrease in April 2018, very strong gains in the Edmonton region’s full-time employment over the past 12 months suggest employers are now more confident about adding to their workforce.
In the second half of 2018, employment in Edmonton should see growth in the manufacturing, professional services and financial services sectors. However, the unemployment rate is unlikely to move much lower than the 6.6% seen in April as individuals, discouraged by less favourable employment conditions in in the first quarter of 2018, return to the active labour force.
Source: City of Edmonton Economic News
Employment rate down 0.3% year over year, April 2018
Unemployment rate 6.3%, down 0.1 p.p. year over year, April 2018
Building permits valued at $133.1 million in March 2018, a decrease of 10.5% year over year
Non-residential investment $406.6 million for Q1 2018, a decrease of 12.2% year over year
The Canadian situation, in brief
After a year of rapid growth, the Canadian economy is expected to slow in 2018 amid the prospect of rising interest rates and lower consumer spending, according to the latest RBC Economic Outlook.
Gross domestic product (GDP) growth is forecasted to slow to 1.9 per cent in 2018, followed by 1.6 per cent in 2019, compared to 3.0 per cent in 2017.
As for Canada’s housing market, RBC Economics forecasts improved demand-supply conditions in 2018. After tighter conditions last year, 2018 should see more balanced house prices. It is projected that price increases will drop from 11.1 per cent in 2017 to just 2.2 per cent in 2018. As a result, housing sales are forecast continue to soften in 2018.
Provincial outlook: oil-producing provinces face significant budgetary shortfalls
Provincial outlook: oil-producing provinces face significant budgetary shortfalls Canada’s oil-producing provinces are facing significant budgetary shortfalls as they come to grips with lower resource royalty revenues. Royalties are expected to remain depressed in the coming year, even as global oil prices and domestic production are expected to rise. Meanwhile, Canada’s non-oil producing provinces have achieved budgetary balance and are leaning into a strong national economy by loosening their purse strings to boost infrastructure and program spending.
With a healthy job market, solid wage gains, and an increase in capital spending, Ontario is expected to have a 2.0 per cent growth rate in 2018, before settling into the national average of 1.6 per cent in 2019. Similarly, Quebec is forecasted to settle at 1.9 per cent GDP in 2018, after a year that saw the province climb to 3.0 per cent GDP - more than twice the national average.
Saskatchewan is forecasted to lead all provinces in growth for 2018 with a 2.9 per cent GDP, followed by another solid 2019 (2.5 per cent).
Governor General’s Awards for Architecture
Edmonton has been lauded as having an “ambitious city program of demanding design excellence for all public buildings” by Alex Bozikovic, a Globe and Mail media rep covering the prestigious Governor-General’s Medals in Architecture.
That newsworthy program earned a Governor-General’s Medal in Architecture for the inspiring pavilion in Edmonton’s Borden Park.
The last time Edmonton won the GG’s award in architecture was in 1992 when Barry Johns Architects won an award of merit for the Advanced Technology Centre.
In all, 12 awards were announced May 19 by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts to honour recently completed projects by Canadian architects.
Read more at:
Le Grand K to be retired
What?!?!? Le Grand K, the kilogram against which all other kilograms are measured, is losing ground in our increasingly technical world. Thus, sadly perhaps, it will be officially retired later this year.
Various news reports have been sounding the death knell for awhile. One says Le Grand K has been losing weight. Don’t we all wish we could – but when your raison d’etre is to be the measure of weight, it’s not a good thing to vary that which defines you.
According to the National Geographic, Le Grand K has been resting for more than a century in a locked vault in Sevres, France. And it defines the true mass of a kilogram for the planet. Of course, one kilo equals 2.2 pounds. But that’s so imprecise in this technological world that demands measures and weights that even a couple of decades ago couldn’t have been imagined.
Forged in 1879 from an alloy of platinum and iridium, historically Le Grand K was hailed as the “perfect” kilogram, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures gold standard by which other kilograms would be judged.
It’s vacuum sealed under three bell jars. It could fit in the palm of your hand if it weren’t so well protected – against terrors including hydrocarbons on fingertips or moisture in the air. According to the science website Mental Floss, Le Grand K makes an appearance every 40 years when it is washed with alcohol, polished and weighed against 80 official replicas hand-delivered from labs from around the globe. Read more.
Photo courtesy of BIPM
In the News
Canada blocks Aecon takeover by Chinese state-owned firm over national security (Edmonton Journal, May 23) – OTTAWA – The federal government has blocked the proposed $1.5-billion takeover of Aecon Group Inc. by a Chinese state-owned company for reasons of national security. After markets closed Wednesday, Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains confirmed the government’s decision to prevent CCCC International Holding Ltd. (CCCI) from acquiring the Aecon construction firm.
Stantec Tower now the tallest building in Edmonton – and it’s still growing (Global News, May 23) – For a mere two weeks, the JW Marriott tower was officially the tallest building in Edmonton — but that title has now been stolen by its neighbour even before it has been topped off.
Government discusses code changes with industry (Alberta Construction Association website, May 22) – Last week, Alberta Construction Association (ACA) led a group of construction industry associations into a meeting with the Labour Minister to discuss how changes to employment standards are negatively impacting our workforce (see letter).
All aboard: More funding confirmed to improve traffic at 50 Street rail crossing (Government of Alberta news release, May 15) – The City of Edmonton is pleased to announce that it has received a commitment from the Government of Canada for the remaining funding required to improve traffic flow along 50 Street.
Okay, computer: Design me a building – (The Globe and Mail, May 10) – There’s a strange corner in the Autodesk Canada offices. Two walls slide past each other at an oblique angle, and stop short of the windows. Into this gap slides a little cubed-off office with glass doors, topped off with an awkward sprig of ductwork painted blue. Who designed this thing?
Edmonton's architecture now 'interesting to the rest of the country,' says award-winning Toronto architect – (CBC Edmonton, May 9) – A Toronto architect who led the design team for an award-winning pavilion in Borden Park says Edmonton architecture is starting to attract attention outside of Alberta.
Ice District hotel-condo tower topped off as Edmonton's tallest building — for now – (Edmonton Journal, May 8) – Officials marked another milestone in the long-running revitalization of downtown Edmonton Tuesday when they celebrated topping off what’s now the city’s tallest building. The 54-storey JW Marriott hotel-Legends condominium tower is helping boost Edmonton’s image and attract potential international investors as part of the massive Ice District development, Mayor Don Iveson said.
Edmonton JW Marriott tower reaches full height, temporarily becomes city’s tallest building – (Global News, May 8) – A big part of the Ice District is nearing completion and Edmontonians are getting an inside look. A ceremony was held inside the JW Marriott-Legends Private Residences Tuesday morning to celebrate the topping off of the tower, which was unofficially topped off in March.
Architect Alison Brooks learns from history and fights for a better city – (The Globe and Mail, May 2) – Do architects have the power to make great buildings and better cities? As I speak to design professionals in Canada, the answer I hear is no. When it comes to the bulk of what we’re building – especially housing – they simply don’t have the influence.
How to design a mediocre building – (, April 29) – The new East Vancouver campus of Emily Carr University of Art and Design should be a showpiece. This is an art school, after all, committed to creativity. You’d think lead architects Diamond Schmitt would get a chance to do something great for the faculty and students.
Extreme weather poses new challenges for developers – (The Globe and Mail, April 23) – A proposal in an idyllic California town symbolizes the changing development requirements in an era of droughts, fires, floods and mudslides.

In This Issue


Executive Update


Membership Update


CIQS Updates


Industry Update


In the News


Upcoming Events

May 30
Royal Alberta Museum site tour – Edmonton
June 25-28
ECA-FMI Canadian Leadership Institute – Kananaskis
August 23
PEG, CSC & CIQS golf tournament – Edmonton
July 19-21
CIQS Congress – Halifax
October 17-19
2018 Value Symposium – Edmonton
December 4
Regina Construction Association AGM – Regina
December 4
Regina Construction Association AGM – Regina


March 16
BOMA Edmonton Awards Gala – Edmonton

Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors - Prairies & NWT

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