HISTORY OF SUBSURFACE UTILITY ENGINEERING Post-61 – History of SUE in Canada (Part 2)

LAWRENCE ARCAND’S HISTORY OF SUE IN CANADA (PART 2 OF 5)

Subsurface Utility Engineering in the early 2000s was a completely foreign concept in Canada and a lot of effort went into educating potential users of the service. There were numerous lunch and learn presentations to educate consultants, municipalities and other government agencies about the merits of SUE. I remember one consultant actually saying, “it will be a cold day in hell before MTO (Ministry of Transportation Ontario) will use SUE.” It would not be long before that person would eat his words. It was about this time that Paul Scott made his first visit to Canada to speak at a TSH/TBE workshop on SUE. He presented on the history of SUE and the findings from the Purdue Study which investigated the Return on Investment of implementing SUE on a project.

The first job completed for the MTO was done at the Homer Watson Boulevard Interchange with the 401 around Cambridge Ontario. The project involved a new road bridge construction, new ramps, and a new pedestrian bridge to service the nearby Conestoga College. The MTO wanted to use the project as a SUE pilot. They put TSH/TBE in contact with the prime consultant, Dillon Engineering, who was working on the project. It was very successful and identified a number of utilities in question on the project. One questionable utility was a watermain crossing through the area of the proposed new ramps. Another key finding was a fibre optics cable designated crossing the highway in the precise alignment of the proposed Pedestrian Bridge. Thankfully because of the SUE data they were able to shift the bridge and avoid any conflict with the fibre optics cable.

The first SUE Standing Offer (On-Call Contract) was initiated by the Town on Richmond Hill. The key person at the Town was John Thompson, a project manager who became convinced of the merits of SUE based on the success of a pilot project completed for the Town. I was the Project Manager for the first Standing Offer contract which completed numerous road, water and sewer projects for the Town. The format of that standing offer contract became the seed document for numerous other municipalities like Hamilton, Toronto, Barrie, Vaughan, York Region, Niagara Region, Mississauga, and others that followed suit over the last 10-15 years.

(Lawrence Arcand’s History of SUE in Canada will be continued next week)