Over 1,000 Registrants Attend 2017 TAC Conference in St. John’s

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The St. John's Convention Centre welcomed over 1,000 registrants at the 2017 Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) Conference & Exhibition, including delegates, meeting participants, exhibitors, presenters and companions.

More than 50 technical sessions, panels and workshops covered a variety of topics, including applications of unmanned aerial vehicles in transportation; emerging environmental technologies; human factors and road safety culture; putting big data to work – a return on investment; and more. Papers presented as part of the conference sessions are available (search by category, organizing group, or keyword) on the TAC website at http://www.tac-atc.ca/en/conference/papers.

Highlights included:

  • The Opening Plenary Session featured an interactive panel discussion on financing in the transportation industry, moderated by award-winning journalist, Don Newman. Panelists included former deputy ministers and TAC leaders: Nithi Govindasamy, John Law, Bruce McCuaig and Russell Neudorf. The audience participated by asking questions via the conference mobile App.  
  • Brad Gushue, 2017 Ford World Men's Curling Champion and 2017 Tim Hortons Brier Champion, shared stories about winning the championship on home ice at the Tuesday Lunch. The TAC Foundation spoke about its donors and programs, including a new opportunity for companies to promote student internships through the Foundation. It also highlighted that the Foundation is looking to provide educational support and programs for students beyond its traditional base of civil and transportation engineering to adapt to the quickly-evolving field of transportation.
  • Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Deputy Minister and TAC President Dr. Paul LaFleche provided delegates with an overview of last year’s key TAC accomplishments at the Wednesday lunch.


  • Sunday’s Welcome Reception provided an opportunity to visit over 50 transportation-related booths and table tops at the W. H. Yeates Exhibition, which showcased the latest in transportation and roads-related products and services. Delegates used their Poken to collect various material from exhibitors and exchange business information with colleagues.   
  • Delegates and companions had a blast at Monday Night’s Rally in the Alley. Various musicians led delegate groups to showcased bars on George Street to engage in the traditional Newfoundland “Screech-in”, Irish step dancing and sing-a-long. Everyone reunited at Club One for memorable performances by Damian Follett and Bic and the Ballpoints, and tested their skills on the mechanical bull.  
  • Tuesday’s Student Day presented student-targeted sessions to over 30 high school (Waterford Valley High School in St. John’s) and post-secondary students interested in pursuing a career in transportation. Students attended the Education and Human Resources Development Council’s (EHRDC) Transportation Theater session; and participated in a structural Lego building competition and the occupations transportation scavenger hunt with exhibitors. TAC’s Student Grant Program provided full travel and conference registration expenses for one lucky student: Sara Maltese, Civil Engineering, from the University of Toronto. 

photo: H. McKinney-Bumstead

Students attend the
EHRDC transportation theater session
(photo by H. McKinney-Bumstead).



  • Wednesday’s Closing Dinner Party entertained delegates and companions with a mix of comedy and song with Spirit of Newfoundland and upbeat traditional music and dancing with local band Shanneyganock.

Award Recipients

  • Technical Excellence Awards – Recognizing the importance of member technical excellence in Educational Achievement (Stantec Consulting Inc.); Environmental Achievement (City of Toronto); Sustainable Urban Transportation (City of Calgary); and Road Safety Engineering (British Columbia Transportation & Infrastructure).
  • Dr. Garreth Rempel, MORR Transportation Consulting Ltd. received TAC’s very first Young Transportation Professional Award.

Photo: Garreth Rempel, Winner of TAC's first Young Transportation Professional Award

  • Eight Distinguished Service Awards were presented to: Keith Boddy, Nova Scotia Transportation & Infrastructure Renewal; Richard Chow, formerly with Alberta Transportation; Carl Clayton, Stantec Consulting Ltd.; Heather Crewe, formerly with Ontario Good Roads Association; Rico Fung, formerly with Cement Association of Canada; David Hein, Applied Research Associates Inc.; Moh Lali, formerly with Alberta Transportation and Russell Neudorf, formerly with the Government of Northwest Territories.
  • The Award of Service was presented to Dino Bagnariol, MTO; Gary Gosse, formerly with Newfoundland and Labrador Transportation & Works; and David Penny, Corrugated Steel Pipe Institute.
  • Ana Lopez, BC Institute of Technology; David McCusker, Halifax Regional Municipality; and Robin Taylor, Hemmera EnviroChem Inc., each received an Award of Merit for having chaired their respective council.
  • Honourary Life Membership Awards were given to Claude Carette, Ville de Montréal, and Alex Turnbull, Westbay Research Inc.
  • Student Paper Awards were presented to recognize the top three technical papers of the conference. Suliman Gargoum, from University of Alberta, received both second and third prize, while Joshua Stipancic, from McGill University, took home first place.
  • A group of fifteen individuals each received a Retiring Committee Chair Award for their role in chairing a TAC project steering committee, standing committee, subcommittee or task force.  

This year, TAC delegates received a Poken to network, receive and share information with other delegates, sponsors and exhibitors. This electronic networking and storage device provided them with the perfect opportunity to get to know their peers and collect informative material, while having fun in the process.

Delegates joined in the conversation using the TAC conference hashtag, #TACconf.  A compilation of posts that used the #TACconf hashtag can be found online.

TAC thanks the many organizations who supported its conference and exhibition – the pre-eminent annual event for the Canadian transportation and roadways sectors – by sending delegates or speakers, or participating as official sponsors and exhibitors.