At North Shore, a large part of supporting our clients with their projects lies within the abilities of our Technical Resource Group (TRG). The TRG is a multi-disciplinary team that performs select environmental assessments, technical reviews, data management, and quality control; all while maintaining consistency in reporting within our organization.

Ann Tuson, Manager, TRG

“The TRG provides internal project teams and our clients with technical, regulatory and field-level expertise in Phase 1 and 2 Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), and Remediation and Reclamation work,” says Ann Tuson, Manager, TRG. “Our team helps to ensure projects presented to our clients are technically sound with clear findings and recommendations to achieve regulatory closure.”

Every environmental report that requires professional sign-off is reviewed by the TRG which is comprised of a variety of functions including the Phase 1 ESA Team, Data Management Group, Drafting Team, and Report Review Group, along with our some of our most senior Technical Advisors.

Completing Assessments

“We have a dedicated Phase 1 ESA reporting team that’s capable of executing large volumes of quality reports,” says Ann. “Last year alone, we completed more than 650 reports for our clients within an 8-month time period,” she adds.

Phase 1 ESAs are typically conducted following the abandonment or decommissioning of an oil or gas site. During completion of a Phase 1 ESA, a review of historical information is conducted and the current site condition is documented through a visual site inspection. This allows our team to determine the environmental condition of a property.

“Depending on the complexity of the site, it can mean a lot of sorting through documents and making sense of information,” Ann says.

Results can vary for each project. There are times when no potential impacts are identified during the Phase 1 ESA and our clients can move forward with the next steps in the reclamation process; other times the results show the presence of areas of potential environmental concern, which require further investigation, typically leading to our client requesting a Phase 2 ESA.

Phase 2 ESAs require our Environmental Consultants do an on-site investigation where they take samples of soil or groundwater, and collect large amounts of data that needs analyzing and compiling, which is completed by the TRG, specifically those that specialize in data management.

Data Continuity

Part of Ann’s role includes overseeing the Data Management Group, which is responsible for reviewing, compiling, and logging project-related data.

“When one of our Environmental Consultants completes a Phase 2 ESA for a client, our Data Management Team tabulates the raw field data and laboratory results from samples collected on-site,” Ann explains. “Our Data Management Group is responsible for the presentation, accuracy and integrity of that information.”

Our reporting process ensures our clients end up with an accurate report.

Following the organization of the field data, often presented in tables, the next step is to add any diagrams or figures, which is where the Drafting Team offers support.

“Any diagrams, figures or drawings are completed by our Drafting Team. These items and are often included as supplementary information to the reports,” Ann says. “Our Drafting team is very skilled at creating complex figures to highlight important findings related to the Phase 2 ESA,” she adds.

Once the appendices are prepared, the project then goes back to the Environmental Consultant for report writing before being submitted for Senior Technical review. The review process is crucial in ensuring consistency and accuracy of the information for our clients and for internal purposes. Once reviewed, the report goes through a brief quality assurance process, and is then sent to the client.

One unique aspect about North Shore’s TRG is that it also encompasses a variety of Senior Technical Advisors that mentor our junior staff, share their knowledge and expertise, and provide technical support to project teams during the reporting process. The Advisor role is especially important when new regulations are implemented from provincial regulators or governing bodies.

The need for a TRG

North Shore’s TRG didn’t always exist the way it does today. Jeremy Paul, Vice President, Innovation says the group formed out of “necessity” when teams became extremely busy working in the field.

“It started with the spill team a number of years ago,” he says. “That group was so busy and had a large number of projects on the go. They didn’t have enough time to complete the field work, review lab results and then put the data into tables for reports.”

“They were working super long days and then trying to create the reports at night and it became too much, so we knew it was a smart idea to bring in someone to manage the data for the field crews, and that was the start of the Data Management Group.”

“From there it made sense to combine the other functions under one team to ensure an efficient and smooth report process from beginning to end,” he adds.

“Having all the client reports go through the same process allowed us to develop templates and standards, and in the end, allows us to deliver a solid product to our clients.”

North Shore is constantly looking for ways to improve the business, and the TRG is a perfect example of internal groups working together to better serve our clients.

“Going forward we want the group to become even more efficient, so we are working towards refining certain processes. With the ever-changing realm of technology, we know we can find ways to make things even better and take our team to the next level!”

More Information

Contact us to learn more about our Technical Resource Group and how we can help with your next project.

In mid-April, North Shore employees from across all four of our locations came together for our annual Technical Day which involves company-wide training, employee networking and celebrating some of our long-serving employees.

Employees participated in a full-day event at the Cambridge Hotel & Conference Centre in Red Deer, where they took in a series of presentations from peers and received a corporate strategy update from executives.

North Shore’s President, Darren Cherniak, handed out service milestone awards to honour and thank employees who have been with the company for 5, 10, and 15 years, and employees were presented with special gifts as a sign of appreciation.  

Congratulations to the following employees for their service milestones!

5-Year Awards

Aaron Batke, Sherwood Park
Brett Delday, Calgary
Cody Halleran, Calgary
Colin Bergen, Lacombe
Greg Tough, Sherwood Park
Hillary Yeung, Calgary
Jeff Grubbs, Sherwood Park
Kayle Watson, Lacombe
Kyle Selle, Sherwood Park
Lacy Wilson, Sherwood Park
Lee-Ann Pettinger, Sherwood Park
Lucas Hewitt, Sherwood Park
Tyler Barabonoff, Lacombe

A few of the 5-year award recipients.

10-Year Award

Glen Pullishy, Calgary

15-Year Awards

Dan Novecosky, Sherwood Park
Kelly Zadko, Calgary

Dan and Kelly, 15-year award recipients.

More Information

North Shore recently took part in EnviroTech, an industry-wide conference bringing Environmental Professionals together for educational seminars and networking opportunities. North Shore has been a proud supporter of EnviroTech for many years and this year was no different, as we partnered with the conference as a returning Diamond Sponsor. We are also proud of our Air Team Coordinator, Hillary Yeung, as she led an important session highlighting some of the recent regulatory changes in Saskatchewan regarding greenhouse gas emissions and what that means for our clients in various business sectors.

Hillary Yeung, Air Team Coordinator presenting at EnviroTech.

Hillary’s presentation stemmed from Saskatchewan’s new Climate Change Strategy, Prairie Resilience, specifically the Output-Based Performance Standards (OBPS) program for large industrial emitters. The OBPS program aims to achieve a total emissions reduction of 10 per cent by 2030.

The focus of the North Shore presentation was educating the audience around the impacts for companies that have “large emitter” facilities, and how those organizations can become compliant under these new regulatory changes.

“Facilities in Saskatchewan are now required to comply with emission standards to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and this is the first time a program like this has been implemented in that province,” says Hillary.

“North Shore has reviewed the provincial strategy and regulations of the program, and going forward, we can advise our clients with operations in Saskatchewan on the process and steps needed to ensure their facilities are meeting compliance obligations.”

Registering Facilities

As of June 1, 2019 upstream oil and gas facilities that meet the following requirements must register with the Saskatchewan government:

  • Facilities must register as a regulated facility if they emit more than 25,000 tonnes of
    Carbon (CO2e) annually in stationary combustion emissions.
  • Facilities can voluntarily opt in if they emit more than 10,000 tonnes of Carbon (CO2e) annually in stationary combustion emissions.

Facilities in the OBPS program are exempt from paying the federal carbon tax on fuel.

Types of Facilities

The year the facility went into service will determine how operators will register the facility with the government:

  • Existing facilities – facilities that have been in commercial production for at least 3 calendar years with an annual total of regulated emissions equal to or more than 25,000 tonnes of Carbon (CO2e).
  • New Facilities – facilities that have been in commercial production for fewer than 3 calendar years with an annual total of regulated emissions equal to or more than 25,000 tonnes of Carbon (CO2e).

Following the registration of facilities with the Ministry of Environment, organizations will have to report baseline emissions quantities for each facility. This is something Hillary says North Shore’s Air Quality and Emissions Team can provide guidance on.

“Depending on if the facility is new or existing, there are different ways to calculate the baseline emissions and different requirements on when the facility must meet the compliance obligations,” she says. 

“Facilities must be registered before baselines can be submitted to the government, and baseline emissions for existing facilities have to be submitted by September 1st of this year.”

How We Can Help

Flexibility within the regulatory obligations allows for facility operators to choose their own methodology in quantifying emissions. Options can include emission factors, energy equivalence factors, and unit conversions; the only stipulation is facilities must follow the same methodology from baseline to compliance.

Companies which emit more tonnes of Carbon (CO2e) than the permitted emissions will have to pay monetary fees to the government. The current fee for excess emissions is $20.00 per tonne, and that price will increase over the next three years by $10.00 a year, bringing the price to $50.00 per tonne by 2022.

“North Shore can help companies quantify emissions and estimate compliance costs with facilities applicable under the OBPS program,” she says. “We can also customize quantification methodologies, optimize baseline submissions, and assist companies in finding solutions for reducing emissions.”

More Information

  • Contact – Hillary Yeung, Air Team Coordinator:
  • Visit – Air Quality Services

When Darren Cherniak first graduated in 1997 from the University of Alberta with a degree in Environmental Science, he never imagined being the owner of a thriving Environmental Consulting Company more than 20 years later.  

“I never had any inclination to start a business,” Cherniak says. “I was just happy to have a good job, working for good people, and doing something I went to school for.”

Cherniak began his career working at a large engineering firm based in Northern Alberta. He worked alongside his eventual business partner, also named Darren, who was hired as a contractor for the same firm.

North Shore’s President, Darren Cherniak.

The pair worked on several projects together doing reclamation, construction, and remediation work in Red Earth Creek, AB. They ended up building a strong working relationship and eventually a friendship, which led to talks about the possibility of starting a company on their own.   

“We spotted a lot of challenges with the engineering firm we were working at. They were very structured and rigid in their approach to client service,” he explains. “We thought we could offer these services better; we wanted to provide more flexibility and cater to the clients and their needs more than our employer at the time.”

“So, we naively decided to start a business,” he laughs.

“To be honest, it was the other Darren that I will credit with putting the idea in my head. He was already running his own business for years as a consultant, so he was comfortable with being a business owner.”

Cherniak was nervous about branching out on his own. After a few months of waffling back and forth with the decision, and with a little encouragement from Darren, Cherniak eventually worked up the courage to quit his comfortable job with the engineering firm, and headed into the unknown as he began the two-man consulting firm.  

Team Growth

For the first couple of years, the North Shore office was based out of Cherniak’s basement. At the time the company had landed a few projects for clients, but they were on the hunt for a “big break.”

“We started doing a bit of work for Devon Energy here and there, they gave us odd jobs or pieces of projects, and we took what we could get,” he says. “They finally gave us a region in Northern Alberta that we were entirely responsible for. We were doing a lot of reclamation work up there and that was enough to get the ball rolling,” he adds.

“It gave us a large enough chunk of work to actually open an office, so we opened our first location in Sherwood Park!”

About the same time work was picking up, both Cherniak and Darren knew they had to hire more team members if they were going to fulfill the commitments to the clients.  

It was then that Kelly Zadko and Dan Novecosky joined North Shore as the company’s first employees.   

“Every time the phone rang we kept saying, ‘yes’, to all the work! It is kind of the consulting fear, if you say ‘no’ to a job; they might never call you again.”

The Right People for the Job

Since 2002, the company has grown at a steady rate. Currently, North Shore has approximately 90 employees and locations in Calgary, Sherwood Park and Lacombe, AB as well as Regina, SK.

Not much has changed over the years with Cherniak’s approach to hiring; he still uses the same guidelines that he used 17 years ago.

“I always felt that I didn’t want to work with someone that I couldn’t invite into my house to enjoy a meal with, because this business did start in my house, and that is something that I have always kept with me.”

One of the best business moves Cherniak says he made was hiring Daniel Engel in 2009 as North Shore’s Vice President, Finance.  

“Daniel was a catalyst and came in with a completely different perspective. Up until that point, the executive team all had the same education and experience – an environmental background. Daniel looked at things from a financial angle, and he has really helped steer the ship.”

Changing Priorities

As the years went on, things within the company began to shift and in 2012 it was time for Cherniak and Darren to part ways as business owners. The split was tough on Cherniak, but he knew the decision would allow North Shore to grow and progress as a company.

“It took a lot out of me,” he says. “I wish things went differently. I internalized a lot of what went on and I think people noticed. Maybe they didn’t know exactly what was going on, but they noticed I was more withdrawn during that time.”

The decision was made for Darren to sell his shares of the company and move on separately from North Shore. Although Cherniak was disappointed, he was also excited because it meant he was able to offer partnership to the executive team and also open North Shore’s ESOP, the Employee Share Ownership Program, which allows employees to buy into the company after three years of service.  

“Yes, I lost a business partner, but I gained so much more, and I do believe the company is better today because of that decision.”

Future Plans

North Shore is looking forward to serving more areas of Western Canada.

Cherniak says remediation and reclamation work will always be the “bread and butter” for North Shore, but he hopes to expand the business over the next few years.

“I think everyone hopes that the economy is going to pick up, and with that I would like to see us open additional locations in western Canada in order to increase our client base and better serve existing clients locally,” he says.

“There is also the potential to grow our business with our U.S.-based customers,” he adds. “We can offer a lot of support through our knowledge of SiteView programs and I think that is going to open a lot of doors for us in the future.”

Cherniak knows his employees are what make the business successful, and is proud of the positive culture that has been built over the years.

“I want everyone to enjoy coming to work at North Shore. And I hope that no matter where their career might take them, they can look back at North Shore as a positive part of their journey.”

More Information

2018 marked a busy year for North Shore’s Vegetation Management Team having serviced more than 1,500 sites for a variety of clients.

“Although the majority of our clients are within the oil and gas sector, North Shore is fully licensed to serve clients within other industries including agriculture and forestry,” says Colin Bergen, Manager of North Shore’s Vegetation Management Team.

Since the team’s inception in 2015, members of our Vegetation Management group have travelled across Canada, all the way from B.C. to Quebec to serve our clients, even accessing numerous sites in remote locations that require our teams to fly in and out to complete the projects.

North Shore’s Difference

We can provide vegetation management services to our clients either in conjunction with our environmental consulting services or as a stand-alone service.

Rather than hiring an additional contractor just to spray weeds, North Shore already employs a number of consultants certified to manage weeds, otherwise known as “invasive species.” While we are on-site completing assessments and other services, our team can recommend a vegetation management plan that will save both time and money for our clients.

“Our team always has the client’s best interests in mind and we can be very efficient by combining weed control and consulting services,” Colin says.

Man hand picking parsnip
A member of our Vegetation Management Team picking wild parsnip in Ontario.

How it Works

When North Shore arrives to a site, an on-site assessment is completed before any work begins.

If invasive species are discovered during the assessment, a management plan will be implemented based on the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles, a set of guidelines that combines a series of vegetation management practices for pest and weed control.

If there is a need to conduct weed control, North Shore has a number of methods that can be used including; hand picking, weed whipping, and herbicide application.

“With sites that have a few patches of invasive species, we typically hand spray those areas with backpack sprayers,” Colin explains. “This ensures accurate application and avoids unnecessary herbicide application in other areas of the site.”

“For other sites with more severe infestations or larger areas, we can broadcast spray with equipment including ATVs, UTVs, and trucks with mounted sprayers,” he adds.

Why it Works

When applied by properly trained applicators, herbicides are very effective at killing their target species and leaving desirable vegetation unharmed.

Woman Spraying Weeds
A North Shore team member spraying weeds on a sunny, summer day.

Herbicides used by North Shore are “systemic,” meaning the product is absorbed by the target species and then spreads through the entire weed, including the roots. This gives spraying a distinct advantage over other methods of weed control, which often leave roots or root segments that can regrow.

“Our team uses herbicides that are considered ‘reduced-risk’ products. The products are effective at treating target species, while posing very little threat to mammals, birds, insects or aquatic organisms.”

More than Weed Management

Colin says the Vegetation Management team’s abilities span further than spraying weeds and the team has experience with a range of vegetation-related projects.

“Last year we helped our clients prepare sites for tree planting, implemented annual bare ground and selective weed control programs, and completed pasture renovations, which is a form of re-seeding damaged landscapes.”

More Information

Contact North Shore to learn more about our Vegetation Management Services and how we can help with your next project.