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There is a lot more to creek design than meets the eye. When our Water Resources team was tasked with taking a Cambridge stormwater pond offline to make way for a more diverse creek ecosystem, we knew there would be a lot of challenges. Add in the removal of a 400m stretch of road and you’ve got the makings of a really complex water resources project.


The on-line pond had been used for decades to capture runoff from the adjacent agricultural land but had also been recommended for removal for over 20 years. When the Hunt Club Valley Estates subdivision broke ground on the old farmland around the pond, our team worked with GSP Group to devise a plan to take the pond offline and create a more cohesive environment for the wildlife in the area and to restore the coldwater characteristics of the creek which had been negatively impacted by the existing pond. We worked closely with the Grand River Conservation Authority to ensure our plan allocated enough land for enhancements, restoration, and floodplain.


Removing the pond meant this existing fish habitat was lost so our Water Resources team restored a wetland area in another portion of the site to ensure an equivalent habitat was reintroduced. A 400m stretch of Briardean Road bisected the wetland and, to restore the wetland into a single contiguous feature, the portion of Briardean Road through the wetland was removed. “Proposing the removal of a section of road isn’t something we regularly do, but in this case, it was what was best for the wetland,” says Brian Verspagen, leader of our Water Resources team. “Excavating out the road made it possible for us to turn the whole area back into a unified wetland habitat and reconnect Middle Creek so it could stay connected with the Speed River.”


With the road out of the way and the two sides of the wetland reconnected, the next major component of the project was the restoration of Middle Creek through the former farm pond. “We had to design a path for the creek to get from one end to the other without the pond in the middle, while also navigating a 1.5-metre change in elevation,” says Brian. “Instead of doing a 1.5-metre drop in one spot with a waterfall, which would make it impossible for fish to migrate up the creek, our team introduced a series of meanders [bends] with pools and riffles changing the grade of the creek just 6 inches at a time.” By studying the types of fish that would commonly live in this creek, the team knew the fish would have a spurt speed that could handle a 6-inch incline over a 2-metre distance if they had adequate rest time in a pool afterward.

The pool and riffle sequence also had an additional design advantage. “Middle Creek is a cold-water creek, which is quite rare for the area, so keeping the temperature of the creek down was important,” says Brian. “Running in and out of the shallow pond had been warming up the creek water, making it difficult for aquatic life to thrive. Each riffle section oxygenates the water, causing evaporation. The energy the water uses to change state from a fluid to a vapour cools it.” This means even if the water warms up in the pool sections, it can cool up to half a degree when it passes over a riffle, rebalancing the water temperature.


Within the pools, the team introduced areas that would enable the fish to breed and safely create nests for their eggs and fry. These spaces included fallen trees and root wads that would protect the fish from predators like raccoons, while also shading them from the sun. Overflow ponds were also introduced, creating the perfect habitat for the many frogs that live in the area.


This project has revitalized an underused ecosystem and breathed new aquatic life into the area for the whole neighbourhood to enjoy.

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New Partners: Patrick Darby, Matt Ninomiya, and Russ Parnell


KITCHENER, Thursday, November 12, 2020 – The WalterFedy Board of Directors is pleased to announce three new shareholders are joining our ownership team. Congratulations to Patrick Darby, Matt Ninomiya and Russ Parnell who have all proven themselves as leaders within the firm and will be strong representatives of WalterFedy moving forward.


“We are proud to be adding these three talented professionals to our shareholders' table,” says Jamie Van Dyk, Chair of the WalterFedy Board of Directors. “Each one brings different skills and experiences to the group and their voices will be valuable additions to our ownership team.” 


All three represent different departments and showcase the breadth of talent within our organization. 

Patrick Darby, P.Eng., CEM, CMVP, LEED AP, has been a champion for sustainability in engineering at WalterFedy since joining the team in 2008. Patrick meshes his mechanical engineering background with environmental advocacy to develop future-conscious solutions for his clients. As manager of our Energy and Carbon Solutions department, he challenges his team to explore new approaches to carbon reduction and energy conservation, and actively encourages clients to make savvy, green choices for their buildings. He is also the chair of Smart Energy Oxford that has the mandate to support the county-wide goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050. 


Matt Ninomiya, MBA, P.Eng., leads the Land Development practice with our Civil Engineering group. Matt joined the WalterFedy team in late 2018 and has made big strides for our business since coming on board. He brings a strong energy and client focus to every project he works on. Whether it be finer details on a small site or a big picture vision of a subdivision, Matt is passionate about designing and building the communities we all call home. He is also actively involved in the home building industry and serves as a Director on both the Waterloo Region Home Builders Association Board and the Brantford Home Builders Association Board.  

For Russ Parnell, P.Eng., M.ASc., structural engineering isn’t just his job – it’s his passion. This seasoned engineer joined WalterFedy in 2014 and believes building collaborative relationships is just as important as creating structures that will stand the test of time. As a creative problem solver, Russ is known for his ability to deliver large, complex, and multi-phased projects on accelerated timelines. Empowering those around him to grow and excel in their positions is something Russ takes great pride in. Outside of work, he is a dedicated member of the Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region Board of Directors. 

Congratulations Patrick, Matt and Russ. The WalterFedy community is happy to have you joining our leadership team to guide us toward a successful future for our organization. 



WalterFedy is a dynamic, integrated firm delivering creative design solutions and practical built environments. Our expertise includes architecture; mechanical, electrical, structural, and civil engineering; energy and carbon solutions; asset and facilities management; project management; and construction management through our sister company, AEC Developments.


Our staff of nearly 200 people serve from two locations in Kitchener and Hamilton. Together, we support clients across Canada with their commercial, healthcare, education, municipal, industrial, and residential projects.




Website –
LinkedIn –
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WalterFedy Media Contact
Katie McQuaid
519-576-2150 x229

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Engineering has always been about choices for Rushin Khakharia. Growing up in Tanzania, Rushin was surrounded by a family of medical professionals, but he knew early on that wasn’t the occupation for him. Rushin broke the family mould by declaring he wanted to be an engineer, and from then on, it was just a matter of choosing how to achieve his goal. While completing an International Baccalaureate diploma program in India, he set his sights on pursuing post-secondary education even further from his home in Tanzania and applied to universities around the globe.


“I hadn’t decided on the type of engineering I wanted to do prior to applying to university, so I applied to and received acceptances for a few different programs in a few different countries,” says Rushin. The choices were plentiful. Rushin’s strength in academics earned him offers from prestigious institutions like University College in London. When it came time to make a decision, he chose Civil Engineering at the University of Waterloo. “I was leaving everything behind in Tanzania and Canada seemed like the country that would be the best for me during and after university,” he says.


While at UW, Rushin intended on completing his co-op terms at six different companies to test out as many industries as he could. On his fourth co-op term, he came to WalterFedy. “I enjoyed the consulting side of the business and that made me want to come back for a second placement because I knew I wasn’t done learning,” he says. “During my second placement at WalterFedy, I was part of a large Public-Private Partnership (P3) project team for the redevelopment at Joseph Brant Hospital. The opportunity to continue working on that project is what made me choose to come back a third time. I was given real responsibility and gained valuable experience during my co-op terms which made my choice to return to WalterFedy an easy one.”


Rushin cuts his cake celebrating permanent residency

When he graduated and was offered a full-time job with WalterFedy, Rushin was ecstatic. “WalterFedy was exactly what I was hoping I’d find in a workplace when I decided to come to Canada,” he says. “I didn’t have family in Kitchener-Waterloo and the people at WalterFedy have become my family. I have an incredibly supportive leader in Shelley Forwell and she made me feel like an important part of the team from day one.” Rushin has since become a permanent resident and we celebrated his great news with a cake at Town Hall in 2017.


Hiring Rushin right after graduation was a great opportunity for WalterFedy too. While he loves civil engineering, he is also drawn to software engineering. He has combined his passion and skill in both on multiple occasions for the betterment of the firm. “I created a company resource planning program that we use to help project managers plan out projects and balance their short- and long-term resource needs,” Rushin explains. “We also use it to keep staff on top of project priorities, track milestones, and schedule QAs.”


What’s next for Rushin? He was recently named a Senior Associate of the firm and has zoned-in on site development as his favourite niche. His specialty is working on technically complex projects; whether the challenge is due to scale or the specific constraints of the development. While he’s lent his expertise to massive projects for General Motors, Maple Leaf Foods, and the University of Waterloo, the sky is the limit for Rushin. “A large-scale project I would love to work on is an airport because it would be incredibly challenging due to the sheer size and the technical planning that has to happen to make it all come together. It’s a sort of magic,” says Rushin. He has some lofty personal goals for his future as well. “I have worked at WalterFedy for six years and I see a real future for myself here. Now that I’m a Senior Associate, the next step is becoming a Partner.”

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Claire Schubert


Claire Schubert’s aptitude for creative expression was sparked by the art of dance. Long before she set her sights on architecture technology, she was channelling her artistic energy into perfecting her craft, both as a teacher and competitor. Her fifteen-year dance career took her out of province, into the States, and to the world championship competition stage.


In high school, she was surprised to discover a new outlet for her creativity in an unexpected place. “I fell in love with architecture during my first drafting class in high school,” she explained. “I enjoyed the art of drafting, and as the only girl in my class, I was pushed to be the best—to always do better because I had something to prove.”


Smitten with this new-found art form, Claire decided to further pursue drafting courses at Conestoga College where she studied Architecture, Construction, and Engineering Technology; a competitive program with long hours, difficult projects, and short timelines. Soon thereafter, she found herself in a co-op role at WalterFedy.


“My training in school was amazing, and it has only been amplified in the workplace. It is so rewarding to see it in action.”


In 2019, Claire was brought on full-time as an Electrical Technologist. Her skills in hand-drafting translated well to Revit, and her appetite to excel in the program allowed her to seamlessly transition into the fast-paced world of an architectural technologist. Since taking on the new role, she has been able to specialize in Revit and work closely with our BIM Manager to develop standards and better understand the intricacies and potential of the software.


In an act of serendipity, Claire now finds herself on a project team for Conestoga College's Trades Training Centre and is applying her talents in service of the school that set her up for success. “Not only is the project interesting, the amazing team I am working with continuously challenges me to grow and learn.”


Claire continues to grow in her new role and offers this advice to other young professionals: jump in! “Don’t be scared to jump into something you’re unsure of. I have had wonderful mentors along the way who have encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone. Your team wants the best for you and will help you reach your goals.”


While dance is no longer at the forefront of Claire's mind, you can find its influences in her work. “There are many similarities between dance and architecture. You can sculpt the body or a building to express creativity. Both are forms of art using colour, shape, rhythm, and texture. Dance prepared me for working as a team and taught me to challenge myself.”

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When WalterFedy’s new CEO, Garth Cressman, started his career at WalterFedy as a 24-year-old Engineer-in-Training, he would never have predicted he’d be named the CEO before his 40th birthday. As with any good coming-of-age story, this one started with him running away from home.


After three years with WalterFedy, Garth left the firm in 2007 to take a crack at the construction business. For the next seven years, he soaked up all the knowledge he could at a local construction company. He worked his way up the corporate ladder from a project manager to the Vice President of Operations, and then an owner. His quest for knowledge never ceased and he used every opportunity to learn more about the industry and running a business.



While he was away, Garth continued to keep his eye on WalterFedy (even working with our firm on a few projects) and always had a feeling he hadn’t finished his story here. In 2014, when the opportunity to start a new energy management business unit came up, Garth jumped at the chance to return. He had just completed his MBA and was eager to try his hand at a little entrepreneurship.


“In those early days, there were only three of us, but we were hungry,” he reminisces. “We would meet new clients, identify their needs, and if it fell outside of our scope we would get together and figure out how to deliver them. We worked hard, made mistakes, pivoted our direction when needed, and in the end, we created a successful new business offering for WalterFedy.”


Two years after starting the energy management group, Garth was presented with his next challenge: leading the entire Engineering Services (ES) group at WalterFedy. This was a tall order, but he was ready to dig in. “We had created a profitable group from the ground up and when I was offered the leadership role for ES, I knew it was the right time for me to take on something bigger,” he says. “The entire experience with energy management gave me valuable insight into how to build and lead a successful team and I was able to bring those skills forward into my new position.”


Once he took the reigns of the ES department, Garth focused his team on expanding relationships with current clients and building new ones with potential clients. “Good client relationships are the foundation of successful businesses, and I wanted to make sure we had enough blocks beneath us to continue our upward momentum,” he says. Under his leadership, the ES group set out to expand their business by 85% in five years by gaining new business. It was an aggressive target, but by putting the right people in the right positions and empowering his staff to be exploratory and take calculated risks, they achieved their growth targets in just three short years. “Accomplishing that goal two years before planned is one of my biggest career achievements as a leader,” he states.


The Garth of today is just as ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work. In his new position as CEO, Garth has a clear vision of the firm’s future, and the sky is the limit. “My job is to lead a talented group of professionals toward an exciting new vision for this firm,” he says. “I want to help WalterFedy and AEC [our sister company] realize our full potential. We are at our best when we work collaboratively across disciplines and I want us to focus more on that. This is a great company and I am invested in making sure we achieve everything we’re capable of and more.”

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The COVID-19 pandemic required businesses around the world to quickly shift from a physical to remote work environment. In a collaborative design environment, this presented a number of unknowns and challenges. Would teams be able to collaborate as effectively online? Would design schedules be impacted if team members could no longer hold ad-hoc meetings? For our Project Managers, this required adapting quickly and adopting new strategies to maintain the close collaboration and ongoing knowledge-sharing that make our projects successful.


Consistent communication is critical to successfully managing a project remotely. With spontaneous in-person interactions off the table, Project Managers have had to be more intentional about checking in and keeping the entire team up to date on the most current progress of the project. As a multi-disciplinary firm, this is especially important to coordinate the architectural and engineering components of the project throughout. On some of our most complex projects, including a multi-million-dollar new facility for a post-secondary client, our internal team held short meetings daily to ensure team members were designing and moving in a coordinated direction. This strategy helped streamline our design by offering more opportunities for communication and input, fostering a strong team environment despite having no in-person interactions. 


“We’ve worked hard to resist the urge to email or instant message, instead focusing on video calls,” says Melissa Fishman, a Team Lead in our Mechanical and Electrical Engineering team. “By talking things through face to face and sharing screens, we’ve been able to keep collaboration going within our design teams and with clients. This has helped us keep our projects moving without waiting on emails to proceed.”


While this shift in collaboration methodology was challenging, one unexpected benefit was that team members became more readily available as site visits and physical meetings were reduced or eliminated entirely. Even though team members were no longer able to stop by one another’s desks for spontaneous discussions, these interactions were replaced by quick, responsive communication over phone, email, or instant messaging platforms.


“We’re finding new ways to work together,” says Architect and Project Manager, Elena Wiersma. “It’s been an interesting shift because everyone needs to be more intentional about their input. You can no longer just sketch on a drawing around a table with the entire team – you need to coordinate sessions to review progress, request control of an electronic drawing, and provide your input clearly and verbally. While transitioning to this way of working had its challenges, we’ve seen just how possible it is to do long-term and on complex projects.”


While ongoing communication is helpful to maintaining coordination in a remote project team, it has also allowed us to continuing building the strong rapport between team members that leads to a cohesive and healthy team.


 “Making time to connect about more than just work is really important,” says Civil Engineer and Project Manager, Josh Zehr. “I use group chats and video calls to talk about projects, but I also try to reach out periodically to individual designers just to check in and reconnect about what’s going on outside of work. Continuing the strong relationships I have with my team members helps everyone feel connected even though we’re not working in the same space.”


“It has really helped us keep up our office culture,” agrees Melissa. “It’s nice to have the opportunity to check in with each other on the same personal level we would in the office.”


Technology has helped facilitate collaboration beyond online meetings. Our team members often share drawings and work together on mark-ups and updates. This level of collaboration needed to be recreated in an online setting to accommodate both new projects that are digital and existing projects with historical hard-copy components. This meant working together to reach a state where all projects could be executed online, combining current electronic design files with scanned and newly rendered documents to ensure all team members had access to the foundational information of each project.


One particular success was the speed with which our team learned and adopted new technology tools to create underlays, hand sketches, and electronic models concurrently, combining the skills and expertise of our various project team members across all design disciplines in an online setting.


“The greatest success was how everyone worked together,” says Elena. “It really took effort on everyone’s part to get to the point where online collaboration was seamless with all members of the team. Each team member stepped up to the plate, which is what allowed us to continue our work smoothly and with minimal interruption even in a challenging time.”


The willingness of each team member to immerse themself in technology-driven collaboration remains one of the most impactful elements in successfully delivering a project remotely. An efficient transition to remote work demands everyone’s equal commitment to adapting. As the work environment may be impacted well into the future, we are consistently looking for new tools that will allow us to deliver projects effectively from anywhere.


“I’ve found our team has worked diligently to get themselves set up in their new work environment,” says Elena. “We’ve had to learn together but we’ve been able to turn working from home into a helpful and productive experience. We’ve been able to maintain an efficient design schedule with lots of opportunities for innovation, collaboration, and refinement. Being able to do that really comes down to the team you’re working with. When everyone puts in the work to move the team forward, we all win!”

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October 13, 2020

WalterFedy continues to follow the guidelines of the Province and has kept most of our workforce at home. Our Reception is closed to visitors until further notice and all client meetings are being held virtually. We will continue to be available via email Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. to serve our clients.


March 31, 2020

With the announcement from Premier Ford extending the state of emergency in Ontario for at least another two weeks, and Minister Lecce announcing schools will remain closed until the end of April, WalterFedy has decided to keep our workforce at home until at least May 4, 2020, as well. All employees who are able will continue to work from home as they have been for the last few weeks. We will continue to be available via email Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. to serve our clients.


March 17, 2020

WalterFedy and AEC Developments are continuing to work hard to meet the needs of our clients during this extremely difficult time. Information around the COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly, and we continue to monitor the updates and developments as they are released. In a step to protect the health and safety of our staff and clients, WalterFedy and AEC Developments is closing our office and employees will be working remotely until at least April 6, 2020. Our staff will continue to be available via email Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. to serve our clients.

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While we couldn’t all be together this year, that didn’t stop WalterFedy and AEC from celebrating Employee Appreciation Week! To kickstart the celebrations, staff received boxes with a few symbolic gifts that aligned with our company’s new vision and direction. The boxes contained a notebook branded with our new Action Statement, a handwritten thank you card from their leader, a pair of bold custom branded socks, snacks to fuel their big ideas, and one intangible, big-picture item.


Every year around this time, we usually offer up a selection of branded company wearables for staff. This year, however, we decided to look beyond our four walls and choose a gift with greater impact. In line with our new aspiration to use our work to enhance the world around us, we purchased enough carbon offsets to counter our 2019 GHG emissions of 371 tonnes eCO2. This amount includes all our staff’s commuting and work travel, as well as keeping our lights on and building heated. Our contribution will fund two projects in the province focused on maintaining the function and diversity of ecosystems along the Niagara escarpment and re-establishing forest species.


But that wasn’t all we had in store. We couldn’t have an Employee Appreciation Week without prizes! We had a long list of prizes for our daily winners to choose from including fitness trackers, local brewery packages, cordless headphones, and so much more!


To close out the week, we hosted a big COVID-friendly event that got us all out of the or house to enjoy some time together. On October 8, the company organized a trip to Bingemans drive-in to see Yesterday. Complete with all the best movie snacks, employees watched the movie from the comfort of their cars and safely within their own bubbles.


It’s a challenging time to celebrate our teams, but we’ve adapted to make sure our people know we value their contributions and resilience in what has been a most unusual year. Thank you to all our employees for everything you do day in and day out.

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World Architecture Day recognizes our collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat and the role architects play in developing the built environment. This requires thoughtful and pragmatic design to reflect each unique community and to integrate each space into the context of its surroundings. To explore some of the considerations that go into each design to ensure it meets these goals, we asked some members of our architectural team to share their thoughts on what makes good design:


"A good design is one that focuses on how people experience and use the space you are designing. Architects have the ability to see the world with a different set of eyes and then translate that worldview into the built environment. Most importantly, we are able to design spaces that give people a sense of community and place. If we can give people a sense of belonging by creating functional, durable, and aesthetically pleasing spaces, we have successfully attained a good design."

– Maria Melo, Architect


"Good design is the outcome of teamwork and collaboration in response to a client's need. When we work together, we discover new and innovative design solutions."

– Michael Winters, Architect, Project Manager


"A good design is one that reflects the environment around it."

– Jamie Van Dyk, Architect, Project Manager, Partner


"Memorable designs make impressions that dwell by successfully and uniquely answering the questions posed by a situation. The designer must be driven and open to understand what those questions are, and they must ensure they place themselves within their responses."

– Wade Brown, Intern Architect


"Good architectural design creates a physical space for people that reinforces their physical and emotional wellbeing, strengthens communities and cultures, and embodies their values. Good design should also be sustainable and harmonious with its surrounding environment, but in the process, design shouldn't take itself too seriously. The best design should include a hint of something whimsical and unexpected to inspire imagination."

– Ben Gregory, Architect, Team Lead

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CEO Garth CressmanKITCHENER, Thursday, October 1, 2020 – The WalterFedy Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Garth Cressman is the new CEO of WalterFedy and AEC.


Garth began his career at WalterFedy back in the early 2000s. Fresh out of school and eager to make an impact, he quickly demonstrated an aptitude for mechanical engineering design and leadership. In 2007, Garth changed direction and took on a project management role with a local construction firm. When he returned to WalterFedy in 2014, he brought with him a wealth of experience, an MBA, and a determination to give back to the company that kickstarted his career.


“So many people invested in my development as a young engineer here,” says Garth, “I’m honoured to lead the company in developing the next generation of leaders.”


The appointment comes on the heels of a new and profound strategic plan, nearly a year in the making.  


“As we prepared to launch an ambitious strategy laid out by our Board of Directors, we recognized the need for an agile leader to fully realize the potential in our goals,” says chairman of the board, Jamie Van Dyk. “We are excited by Garth’s enterprising nature and unshakeable drive which are well-matched to the challenge ahead for WalterFedy and AEC. Garth is and will continue to be a strong ambassador in our community and for the firm.”


“My primary goal is to help us realize our potential—to self actualize,” say Garth. “In general, we’re well-aligned as an organization, so now we are looking to provide clarity on what makes us special as a firm and in the marketplace.”


Garth is the company’s 9th CEO and is taking over for Paul Reitzel as he rounds out his term.



WalterFedy is a dynamic, integrated firm delivering creative design solutions and practical built environments. Our expertise includes architecture; mechanical, electrical, structural, and civil engineering; energy and carbon management; asset and facilities management; project management; and construction management through our sister company, AEC Developments.


Our staff of nearly 200 people serve from two locations in Kitchener and Hamilton. Together, we support clients across Canada with their commercial, healthcare, education, municipal, industrial, and residential projects.




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WalterFedy Media Contact
Katie McQuaid
519-576-2150 x229



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