Championing Canadian steel – The Canadian Institute of Steel Construction


    The Canadian Institute of Steel Construction (CISC) is the voice of the Canadian steel construction industry, and serves as a key resource for the architectural, engineering and construction communities.

    The CISC’s key focus areas include providing education, knowledge, technical information and resources to the design and consulting community, promoting the advantages of steel construction, participating in codes and standards development, and advocating for key issues impacting the industry. The CISC also hosts various industry events such as the national and regional Steel Design Awards of Excellence, National Steel Symposium and an annual conference to showcase excellence in the steel industry.

    Tareq Ali, CISC’s director of marketing and communications, explains CISC’s strong commitment to promoting excellence in steel design and construction fuels the development of various new initiatives, tools and resources focused on knowledge, innovation, design versatility and the efficient and sustainable use of steel. Some of the initiatives that have launched or are planned for launch this year include:

    New 11th edition Handbook of Steel Construction

    This is the CISC’s flagship publication and the definitive guide to steel design and construction in Canada. “We’re pleased to launch our latest edition of the handbook, the 11th edition, which has been substantially updated to reflect changes to CSA S16-14 and is intended to be used in conjunction with the National Building Code of Canada 2015,” says Ali. The new handbook is available on CISC’s storefront. is a dynamic new technical blog that provides technical knowledge and resources to support the design and construction community. “We’re always looking for innovative and value added ways to engage the design and construction community., run by our Solutions Centre team, features new weekly posts that address some of the most complex technical challenges that consultants may face, and keeps them informed of the latest trends and information in the steel construction industry.”

    CISC National Steel Symposium

    The first CISC National Steel Symposium will be held in Toronto on Sept. 29. “This will be an exciting, multi-track education day for the construction industry packed with dynamic sessions featuring the latest topics in steel design and construction,” says Ali. The symposium’s comprehensive session line up includes presentations on Integrated Project Delivery, Fire Protection, Coatings/Galvanizing, Steel Erection, Sustainability, BIM – Dispute & Conflict Resolution, Connections Design and many more… Registration is now open at

    CISC-CSCE National Steel Bridge Competition

    Another Canadian first, the National Bridge Competition, is a highly acclaimed initiative was developed and cohosted by the CISC and the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) in May. It showcased the creativity, innovation and engineering skills of student teams from Canada’s leading universities who competed head to head to design the best bridge project following specifications based off of real engineering projects.

    CISC EPD Project

    EPD (Environmental Product Declarations) are another key initiative that the CISC is working on this year. With the focus on sustainability, project lifecycle and resiliency intensifying in the construction industry, and the quickly approaching deadline to move to the newest LEED v4, “the CISC has been working hard with our members and associates to develop EPDs for our key product lines,” Ali said. This is expected to be completed by the fall.

    CISC Annual Conference and National Design Awards

    CISC’s annual conference is considered to be the premier social, networking and business development conference in the North American steel industry. Scheduled for Sept. 27- 30 at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto it will include a number of presentations, social events and networking opportunities over four days. New for this year, it will also feature a multi-track education day and a trade show.

    The other key component of the event is the National Steel Design Awards of Excellence gala. A biennial program, last year’s awards focused on recognizing excellence in the different CISC regions across the country. This year’s awards take a broader national approach and will recognize winners from last year in four national categories.

    Once the conference wraps up, the CISC will be back to being focused on its operational activities and what Ali calls the “ongoing journey towards excellence.”

    “Our three core objectives are to create value for members and associates, to promote and drive the selection of steel as the material of choice, and to support market share development,” he said. Advocacy as the voice of the steel industry CISC is also focused on three issues it has identified as being key to its members and the industry: Prompt payment, local procurement for infrastructure projects, and free and fair trade.

    “We’ve all heard a lot about the issue of delays in payment of construction trades and its devastating impacts on Canadian jobs and the economy. At the federal level we’re hoping to see positive outcomes from Bill S224 the Canada Prompt Payment Act in the Senate, and provincially we’re anxiously awaiting several developments including the release of the report on the Construction Lien Act Review in Ontario, and the implementation of the Charbonneau Commission’s recommendations for prompt payment practices in Quebec,” Ali said.

    The second key advocacy platform for the CISC is infrastructure investment and local procurement. Referring to the federal government’s plan to spend $125 billion over ten years and its commitment to strengthening the middle class, Ali says that can only happen if large projects contain a local Canadian or regional component.

    “We’re not looking for a protectionist policy, but rather, a policy that requires an apples to apples comparison when Canadian governments at all levels procure globally. This should include analysis and comparison of the cost of wages, environmental and safety standards and other factors to ensure Canadian companies are competing on a level playing field on these projects.”

    In a similar vein, CISC is also encouraging governments to look more closely at free and fair trade and at reciprocity in trade agreements. Ali says currently many trade policies are a one-way street with Canada’s trading partners given access to our markets while they continue to shut out our manufacturers from theirs. “Some of these partners are going further and engaging in unfair practices as well.”

    He says federally, CISC wants the government to enact a Reciprocal Procurement Act to ensure fairness on a global level. Provincially, CISC wants to ensure decision makers understand that agreements such as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is a federal-to-federal agreement that is not binding at the provincial level. “We’re not asking for changes to the trade agreements but rather, for a closer look at what can be done within the existing agreements to ensure a fair marketplace.”

    Other ways CISC works to promote steel and to build awareness include the upcoming Steel Day on Sept. 16. This event, which has taken place over the last several years, is a designated day within the industry in which everyone from mills to engineers will open their doors to the public for tours and presentations related to steel.

    “This is a great way to get stakeholders out to see the process behind steel design and fabrication. The industry is very high tech so there is the chance to see things like the CNC manufacturing processes, robotic welding and fabricating,” he said. “This is where the steel industry has a chance to showcase how we build Canada.”

    For more information about CISC, its events and activities, visit http://www.ciscicca. ca.


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