La Société canadienne
de géotechnique
The Canadian
Geotechnical Society
La Société canadienne de géotechnique
The Canadian Geotechnical Society

Message from the President (March 2018 GN magazine submission)

Dharma Wijewickreme

As we merge into the Spring season of 2018, it is my pleasure to write this message to share some thoughts for your consideration, along with a number of updates from the Canadian Geotechnical Society (CGS).

As the learned Society for geotechnical engineering and related geosciences in Canada, rightly, our key focus has been, and is, to serve our membership through various avenues such as: advancing the knowledge via research and innovation, dissemination of technical and scientific knowledge, and fostering opportunities for exchange of information amongst academia, industry, and government. We continually perform very well along these lines of focus and contribute to the recognition of well qualified geo-professionals which enables us to provide high quality professional services and geotechnical products to the society-at-large.

The assurance of quality is one of the keys to the sustainability and reliability of what we do as professionals. With ever-increasing competition in the market place, balancing the quality with cost-efficiency has long been a key challenge and it is becoming a dominant driver. In this regard, I believe that it is timely and important for us to ask the question: "How could we help provide incentives and support to geo-professionals to deliver high quality products and services in geotechnique and justify fair and appropriate compensation in a highly competitive business environment?" It is sometimes considered that the latter "non-technical" issues should be addressed by professional licensing bodies and other similar entities, and they need not be in the purview of learned societies like the CGS. I personally believe that our Society can also contribute to this key aspect of our professional endeavours.

Our geo-profession has inherently unique attributes since we deal with earth-based materials that are highly complex, variable, and compounded with uncertainties. For example, our approaches for the design of "geotechnical products" are difficult to codify, thus leading to specific challenges in assuring quality in a uniform manner across our practice; in this regard, it would be quite a challenge for instance to try to codify approaches for geotechnical site investigations! I feel that it is timely to have a conversation amongst us on these non-technical, but significant, considerations related to quality-assurance. I invite you to take a moment to think about this and let us know your thoughts.

Now, let me present a few updates with regard to our CGS activities.

We have been making further improvements on the already updated CGS website. We have introduced a more personalized myCGS dashboard, now in place, with newly updated user-friendly navigation panes on the website. If you have not already done so, please log onto cgs.ca and take a quick look. Thanks are due to Wayne Gibson (Director of Administration and Finance) and our Website provider pro.Net for working hard to get this task accomplished.

By the time you read this message, you should have already received the updated Errata for the 4th edition of the Canadian Foundation Engineering Manual (CFEM). Another major task underway is to establish a framework for the next (online) edition of the CFEM; this is not a straightforward task, and it is a taking a bit longer than we would have liked.

Our next Cross Canada Lecture Tour (CCLT) talks are well organized: Dr. Tom O'Rourke (Cornell University, Ithaca, NY) will be the Spring 2018 speaker for the CCLT, and Dr. Alex Sy (Klohn Crippen Berger, Vancouver, BC) has kindly agreed to be the Fall 2018 speaker.

Sincere thanks to Suzanne Powell (VP Technical) for the above CFEM and CCLT related organizational work. I also want express my gratitude to Kent Bannister (VP Finance) for his leadership on the Financial Advisory Task Force to examine the ways to best invest the CGS' funds, and Jean Côté (VP Communications and Member Services) for working towards a renewed Membership Committee and Communication Strategy.

Another important task that arises periodically is to appoint new chairs for our Technical Divisions and Committees, and new Section Directors to replace the outgoing Chairs and Directors who have completed their three-year terms. In this regard, let me first take the opportunity to thank all the volunteers who stepped down at the end of 2017 for their extensive contributions to the CGS. It is my pleasure to announce that the new representatives of the Technical Divisions and Sections on the Executive Committee (EC) for 2018 are Nicholas Vlachopoulos and Andrea Lougheed, respectively. Furthermore, Maraika DeGroot will be serving as the new CGS Young Professionals Representative on the EC. I also would like to welcome several incoming Division Chairs: Dipanjan Basu, Jasmin Raymond, René Laprade, Magdalena Krol and Mohsen Nicksiar; Section Directors: Dwayne Tannant, Renato Macciotta, Leanne McLaren, Billy Singh, Michael James and Christopher McQueen; and Committee Chairs, Sumi Siddiqua and Thomas Pabst. The most up to date list of all the CGS members volunteering in 2018 is published elsewhere in this issue.

As mentioned in my previous President's message, Mario Ruel has been named the CGS President-elect for 2018; he will become the President of the Society for the 2019-2020 term. I would like to offer my congratulations and warm welcome to Mario, who will also sit on the 2018 Executive Committee as part of serving in this new role.

The extensive and mostly time-sensitive volume of work involved in the operation of the CGS cannot be accomplished without the commitment and dedication extended by the CGS National Office directors. I would like to express my gratitude to Michel Aubertin (Executive Director), Wayne Gibson (Director, Administration and Finance) and Lisa McJunkin (Director, Communications and Member Services) for their amazing contributions and support in this regard.

This is the time that the CGS requests nominations from the membership with respect to the annual awards and honours. Additional details on these nominations are presented elsewhere in this issue. Please consider nominating your deserving colleagues to be rewarded with these CGS accolades.

Our Society is well supported by generous donations from our Corporate Sponsors; I would like to take the opportunity to thank the following firms for their contributions for the Year 2018: Advanced Construction, DownUnder Geotechnical; Geo-Slope International; GKM Consultants; Golder Associates; Insitu Contractors; Klohn Crippen Berger; Knight Piésold Consulting; Mobile Augers and Research; Naviq Consulting; Reinforced Earth; Rocscience; SoilVision, Stantec; Thurber Engineering; and Trek Geotechnical.

I would like to share the news that Kerry Rowe (CGS Past President, 2001-2002) has been recognized as a new Officer in the Order of Canada. The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order that was established to pay tribute to those who exemplify the highest qualities of citizenship and whose contributions enrich the lives of others. Specifically, for his "seminal contributions to the field of geoenvironmental engineering, notably for his pioneering research in waste barrier systems". Congratulations and best wishes from the CGS, Kerry!

I invite you to mark your calendars to attend the following CGS conferences: Geohazards 7, the 7th Canadian Geohazards Conference to be held June 3-6, 2018 in Canmore, Alberta and the 71st Annual CGS Conference GeoEdmonton to be held September 23 - 26, 2018 in Edmonton, Alberta (please visit the conference websites geohazards7.ca and geoedmonton2018.ca for more details).

As we all know, our membership is the key to the Society's success and strength. So, if you haven't already done so, please visit cgs.ca, or contact CGS National Office (admin@cgs.ca) to renew your CGS membership for 2018.