NASTT-NW Chapter Promotes Industry in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan

Education is the key to the continued growth of the trenchless industry and one of the early advocates for trenchless technologies in Western Canada is the North American Society for Trenchless Technology’s Northwest Chapter (NASTT-NW).

Founded in 1995, the chapter officially chartered in 1997 at the NASTT No-Dig Show in Seattle, Washington, USA, and included Alberta, British Columbia and Washington State. British Columbia left the fold in 2005 to form the British Columbia chapter and following the departure of Washington State in 2009 to be part of the Pacific Northwest chapter, NASTT-NW members voted on a revision of the geographic makeup – one that remains in place today – with the chapter representing Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

“The founders were Rick Prentice and Ken Chua, and due to a long history of trenchless construction, the City of Edmonton’s support was essential in successfully initiating the chapter,” says Craig Vandaelle, NASTT-NW chair. Vandaelle is tunneling manager at Michels Canada and Michels Corp. “We are very fortunate to have one of the largest and most active chapters of NASTT. We are also doing our best to get out in front of industry with markets that have emerging and new trenchless technologies.”

RELATED: Edmonton Showcases Trenchless Technology

In keeping with its mission to promote the trenchless industry within its boundaries, the NASTT-NW Chapter frequently hosts short course events at various locations.

In keeping with its mission to promote the trenchless
industry within its boundaries, the NASTT-NW Chapter
frequently hosts short course events at various locations.

Rounding out the current leadership are elected officers Greg Tippett, secretary, Stantec Consulting Ltd.; Keith Moggach, treasurer, Royal Building products; and Alan Miller, immediate past-chair, Associated Engineering (Alberta) Ltd. The NASTT-NW Board of Directors is Siri Fernando, City of Edmonton; Hartley Katz, Morrison Hershfield; Charles Pullan, City of Calgary; Dr. Alireza Bayat, University of Alberta; and Dan Willems, City of Saskatoon.

From 1995 through today, the chapter and its members have witnessed the continued, yearly growth, in Western Canada’s trenchless industry.  Vandaelle notes that horizontal directional drilling (HDD) has seen the largest growth thanks to the abundance of oil and gas work within the chapter’s boundaries. Thanks in part to a strong local economy and the City of Edmonton’s presence as one of the leaders in North America’s use of trenchless technologies, pipe rehabilitation, namely cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) has also seen year-over-year growth.

“Building off the City of Edmonton’s long history of trenchless construction has been a real positive to local public projects,” Vandaelle says. “There is willingness by local governments to allow new technologies to be applied to new construction.  Today within our chapter limits there are numerous trenchless projects actively under construction, in design and in the planning stages.”

Chapter Goals

Since its inception in 1995, NASTT-NW has stayed true to its two main goals:
• To advance the science and practice of trenchless technology for the public benefit
• To promote and conduct education, training, study and research in said science and practice for the public benefit, and make available information thereof to all interested and concerned parties.

Members of the NASTT-NW board of directors meet to discuss the Northwest Trenchless Conference

Members of the NASTT-NW board of directors meet to discuss the Northwest Trenchless Conference

In keeping with its mission to promote trenchless technologies through education and outreach NASTT-NW’s Edmonton section has hosted monthly technical lunches (September through April) since 1998 and since 2004, the Calgary section hosts two to four similar events. In the works, with a date yet to be determined, is a CIPP best practices course, to take place in Winnipeg.

“With the growth of the trenchless technologies and the influx in opportunities due to a predominantly strong local economy the demand for engineers, contractors, inspectors, etc. has brought many new and seasoned trenchless experts to our chapter,” Vandaelle says. “The chapter has benefitted greatly from the participation of its volunteers and many of our members have provided a long-term commitment to the chapter’s annual activities and make getting involved fun for new volunteers.”

This long-term commitment has resulted in many of the chapter’s volunteers being involved for more than a decade, and some, like Dave Krywiak, of Stantec Consulting Ltd., serving for more almost 20 years.

“It’s this continuity that allows the chapter to consistently deliver high quality events for its membership,” Vandaelle says. Not to be a group that rests on its laurels, NASTT-NW is in the early stages of creating a membership committee to recruit and retain existing members.

To help mentor young professionals in the trenchless industry, NASTT-NW is heavily involved with the student chapter at University of Alberta.  Vandaelle notes that NASTT-NW is lucky to have the student chapter’s advisor, Dr. Alireza Bayat on its board of directors.

RELATED: CETT Spearheads Trenchless Research, Education in Western Canada

Annual Events

In keeping with its goals, in the fall of 1997, NASTT-NW held its first trenchless technology symposium in Edmonton. Since then, the fall symposium has grown to a two-day event that rotates between Calgary and Edmonton. This year’s event is set for Nov. 9-10 at the Fantasyland Hotel in Edmonton.

The Northwest Trenchless Conference, as it has come to be known, includes a short course, conference, trade show and the awarding of the chapter’s annual project of the year. The 2015 recipient was the City of Calgary,  AECOM and Ward and Burke Microtunnelling for the Bowness Sanitary Offload Trunk.

Nov. 9 is a short course day and this year the course is NASTT’s Gas Good Practices. Nov. 10 is the trade show and technical conference featuring 10 presentations and the 2016 Northwest Trenchless Project of the Year Award recognition and technical presentation.

RELATED: Rehabbing a Pair of Egg-Shaped Sewers in Winnipeg with Sliplining

Registration for the conference and trade show is $200 for NASTT members, $300 for non-members and $50 for students.  Registration for the NASTT Gas Good Practices Short Course is $350 for members, $450 for non-members and $175 for students. Registration for the short course is not included with general registration for the 2016 Northwest Trenchless Conference, and vice versa.

For more information including a link to register for the conference, visit and click on the Northwest Trenchless Conference link on the left-hand side of the page.
Mike Kezdi is associate editor of Trenchless Technology Canada.
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