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

Message from the President

Mario Ruel, President of the Canadian Geotechnical Society

Bonjour/Hello friends and colleagues,

As I am writing these words in October, I am still on a "high" from GeoVirtual 2020, our 73rd Annual Canadian Geotechnical Conference held in mid-September. It was a great success, but I am especially grateful it went so well because last spring we took a serious risk to embark on this adventure without any experience on such large-scale virtual conference organiza­ tion. It was deemed a beautiful risk to seek a way to gather up and keep our uninterrupted Annual Conference streak going. The Calgary Local Organizing Committee (LOC) could have played it safe and abandoned the idea. But no! The LOC team went ahead with all their hearts and, with the National Office, we all decided to manage this risk together . Thanks to the remarkable LOC under the leadership of Justyna Kos-Fairless and Daniel Bertrand, over 550 attendees enjoyed the first ever CGS Virtual 2020 conference.

I personally thought it was fun, dynamic, and very informative. We have had a lot of positive feedback from participants and attendees who also appreciated the advantages of being able to see presentations at a later time. Most importantly, in these difficult times of severe confinement and isolation it was so good to see us all gathering together and feel a sense of community and friendship. I know it was not like meeting in person but this CGS event was the next best thing and it helped boost my spirit significantly. In hindsight, the decision to hold GeoVirtual 2020 was truly the perfect call!

The CGS 73rd Annual Conference started off with Dennis Becker delivering the excellent R.M. Hardy Address and, at noon, the Legget Medal ceremony honored Wayne Clifton as our new and highly deserving Legget medallist. During the Awards Luncheon held on Wednesday, various CGS prizes were announced , including the second winner of the recently created Early Achievement Award given to Andrea Lougheed. Ariane Locat (Universite Laval) delivered a masterful 2020 Colloquium lecture after which the CGS announced that the 2021 Colloquium speaker will be Renato Macciotta Pulisci (U of A). All participants also had the great opportunity to see a special address by our renowned colleague Norbert Morgenstern which was then followed by an informative session by the Heritage Committee. During the Business meeting, President-Elect Ian Moore presented his team to the participants. We wish the best of success to Ian and his upcoming VPs, Andrea Lougheed (VP Finance), Mamadou Fall (VP Technical), and Justyna Kos-Fairless (VP Communications and Member Services).

As per our CGS traditions, we held the Annual Board of Directors (BOD) meeting just before the conference. Exceptionally this year, this was a virtual meeting with over 50 volunteer leaders from Divisions, Committees, and Local Sections. Key decisions were made covering development of initiatives, budget and the operation of the CGS, such as accepting the Western Quebec section proposal to host the 77th CGS Annual Conference in Montreal in 2024 (after Niagara Falls in 2021, Calgary in 2022, and Saskatoon in 2023). The virtual BOD meeting turned out to be very productive and much more interactive than anticipated since several questions and open discussions occurred on the virtual chat line during the meeting. Thanks to all members of the Board for investing their time to help manage the Society's activities.

Looking back since the start of our mandate in 2019.

The past two years have been amazing, busy but fun and rewarding. For those who know my railway background it seems like, in 2019, we started our train at full speed on solid tracks and then we traversed two major "transition switches" (see below), while hitting some very rough conditions (Covid-19). All this happened without even slowing down as we managed to stay firmly on tracks.

I believe we achieved significant progress on our initial objectives, while responsibly managing the CGS business and with constant respect for our pillars founded on encouraging young members, welcoming more women in geotechnique and increasing services to practitioners and francophones. Despite some attrition from the extraordinarily challenging times of the current pandemic situation, our membership remained strong and the CGS continues to provide an increasing level of services to its members. Finances have been well managed under the direction of VP Kent Bannister. This will help us through these tough times.

Bottom line: Our Society is solid and well organized; we will get through this together.

In addition to running all the regular activities and a series of developments, we also succeeded in conducting our train smoothly through major "transition switches" in 2020:

1. Canadian Geotechnique replacing Geotechnical News as our CGS member magazine by new publisher Karma-Link with Lisa Reny as the Managing Editor, in collaboration with Nicholas Beier (Editor of CGS News) and Doug VanDine (Features Editor).

2. New National Office management contract with Karma-Link replacing GGMI.

Our VP Technical, Rob Kenyon, continued the collaborative work to advance the new CFEM, which is still on track with the aggressive timeline. All this while staying on top of his extended technical and organizational responsibilities such as the Colloquium Lectures Series, the CCLT, the Canadian Geotechnical Journal, as well as helping with the planning of specialty Conferences.

The CGS VP Communications and Member Services Judith Bouchard maintained her dynamic pace with a series of creative initiatives to improve communications and services and to help the CGS continually evolve. She turned ideas into tangible actions from the 2019 brainstorming sessions lead in collaboration with Maraika DeGroot and Andrea Lougheed. The following actions include for instance an easier membership renewal process; revamping the CGS E-News impressive results from social media drive; and successful CGS webinar trials.

Kent Bannister will be completing his fourth year of outstanding services as VP Finance, always keeping control of our budget and helping us make sound decisions for our members while leaving the CGS on a firm financial foundation.

Our Young Professional Representative, Vincent Castonguay led a great CYGEC event this year while providing support for the "Student Chapter Pilot Project" success leading to seven new University CGS chapters involving hundreds of students now linked to our Society.

Despite the pandemic, we saw a lot of interactions within and between the CGS Local Sections, encouraged by Section Representative on the CGS Executive Committee, Billy Singh. Dave Gauthier, our Division and Committee Representative introduced new ideas to spark more enthusiasm and collaborative interaction into our technical groups. We noted that over 2,500 geoprofessionals participated in our various meetings across the country over the past year. This is only a portion of our overall national geotechnical community, but it represents a significant potential to increase our membership and make the CGS stronger and more influential in our world. I all of us at the CGS should continue to do more outreach activities within our respective professional communities and through social media. We need to talk more about the CGS, invite our friends and colleagues, some of whom are not aware of the benefits they could get from our services, activities and conferences.

I am glad and proud we were able to bring a solid contribution to our CGS during our two-year term, which is ending this December. I am so very impressed to see how much time and effort the Executive Committee members (mentioned above) have invested with passion to deal with their responsibilities. It has been a lot of work for our great team and I want to express my sincere thanks to our VP's Rob Kenyon, Judith Bouchard, Kent Bannister as well our Representatives Vincent Castonguay, Billy Singh and Dave Gauthier. It has been a fun ride and also very gratifying for us to have had the honor to serve our Society. I encourage you to get involved with the CGS as I assure you that you will be proud and get more out than you put in!

Ian Moore will take over the affairs of the CGS as President of the Society with a solid team at the end of this year. The future of the CGS will be in good hands under his leadership.

Special thanks to our CGS National Office: hard-working group led by Michel Aubertin, the knowledgeable and master organizer CGS Executive Director, along with the excellent Lisa Reny, Director Communication and Society Operations and the assistance of Emily Fournier, Coordinator Communications and Member Services. Merci for your guidance, patience and relentless support. We owe you a lot. The CGS is solid thanks to you.