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Tuesday, Apr 25, 2023

Strategic approach delivers critical drainage improvements in Calgary’s Northwest Inner City

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The Northwest Inner City area of Calgary has experienced recent, unprecedented flooding; the most devastating of which was the Bow River flood in 2013. This significant event refocused The City’s priorities in the Northwest Inner City area on drainage improvements, and in 2016, Associated Engineering updated The City's Northwest Inner City Community Drainage Improvement Study

Subsequently, in 2019, The City of Calgary initiated three community drainage improvement projects with three different consultants (MPE Engineering, GDH, and Associated Engineering) within the same geographic area. A year later, The City received funding through the Municipal Stimulus Program to design and construct the recommended drainage improvements, which would mitigate risks to the community, which were at the highest risk of flood recurrence. 

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The Municipal Stimulus Program funding stipulated that construction must be completed by the end of 2021. To take advantage of the funding, The City had to reduce the detailed design and procurement schedule from one year to approximately six months. To meet the tight schedule, The City directed the three consultant teams to work with Associated Engineering, which would serve as Lead Consultant and manage the delivery of three community drainage improvement projects.

As Lead Consultant, Associated Engineering was responsible for aligning the designs and preparing templates to produce a single, cohesive Request for Proposal (RFP) for procurement of a contractor. The RFP would ultimately become the contract document, including special conditions, construction drawings, and technical specifications to deliver the overall project, while also considering and incorporating project specific elements.

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“Our challenge was to deliver this work safely, minimizing community impacts and achieving The City’s design standards, while managing three consultant design teams, each with their own unique personality, design processes, and work environment. Viewing the projects as an overall program, defining project requirements, and considering the overlapping impacts and risks helped guide us to achieve The City’s goals.” - Project Manager, Craig Pass

When the provincial funding support was announced, the individual projects were already in various stages of design and construction document preparation. Adding to the program's complexity, when public safety measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic were announced, the design teams transitioned to working remotely and using virtual communication tools and collaboration platforms for project meetings and document control.

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“In this virtual environment, project management, leadership, prompt decision-making, and clear communication helped to keep the project and development of the RFP on schedule." 

The City received bids from three contractors. Employing evaluation criteria developed by Associated Engineering, The City selected a contractor and awarded the construction contract for approximately four kilometres of storm system improvements valued at almost $30 million. The project was successfully delivered in a challenging urban environment, overcoming pandemic-related supply chain constraints, and a compressed schedule. Key to the success of the project was the collaborative design and construction environment fostered between Associated Engineering, the three onsultant design teams, The City of Calgary, and the contractor.

Our key personnel involved on the project included Craig Pass, Eliman Camara, Bruce Colwell, Danielle Nyarko, and Bev Hehr.