An interesting article from the Georgia Straight, shining some light on SNC Lavalin wining the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Engineering Excellence. Deserved or not, the comments (on the Georgia Straight Link) are worth reading. Somehow building an economy metro line, that does nothing special and when the taxpayer is kept from finding the real cost, is not worthy of any award.
Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Canada Line builder SNC-Lavalin criticized – From the Georgia Straight
By Travis Lupick
It’s been described in the media as “the big winner” of the 2010 Awards for Engineering Excellence, which were presented on April 24. And indeed, for its work on the Canada Line, SNC-Lavalin Inc. did take home the prize of the night—the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Engineering Excellence.
But the company’s record is far from spotless, former Cambie Street merchant Susan Heyes was quick to pronounce.
“The Canada Line project and SNC knowingly chose a method of construction that caused scores of businesses to fail,” Heyes told the Straight by phone. “This unreasonable, preventable nuisance—and SNC’s lack of social responsibility—is not worthy of an award, but rather of a warning: this must never happen again.”
The owner of Hazel & Co. is embroiled in a lawsuit related to the Canada Line that names as a defendant InTransit B.C. Limited Partnership, a company partly owned by SNC.
In May 2009, a B.C. Supreme Court judge found InTransit, TransLink, and Canada Line Rapid Transit Inc. “wholly” responsible for a substantial loss of income by Hazel & Co. That decision is under appeal.
During the Canada Line’s construction, SNC also came under fire for its treatment of temporary foreign workers.
In December 2008, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled that members of Local 1611 of the Construction and Specialized Workers’ Union were discriminated against by their employers.
Along with the other respondents named in the complaint, SNC was ordered to pay the Latin American workers $10,000 each as “compensation for injury to dignity”.
An InTransit representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
Glenn Martin, executive director of Consulting Engineers of British Columbia, the organization that oversees the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Engineering Excellence, told the Straight that the award was bestowed on SNC “based on the merit of the project”.
“It is an award for engineering excellence,” she said, adding, “It boils down to looking at the ‘wow factor’ of what the project is, and what sort of creative, innovative, excellent engineering goes into the project.”
Martin explained that a panel of industry leaders examines a variety of criteria when deliberating on potential recipients of the award, and noted that the emphasis is on the individual projects being considered.
SNC’s controversies extend beyond the Canada Line. SNC Technologies Inc., a former subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin, has been criticized for supplying the U.S. military with bullets for use in Iraq. The division of the company that manufactured munitions has since been sold.