The association issued a Notice of Inquiry alleging that Mr. Burch’s landslide assessment geotechnical reports were deficient. Instead of proceeding to a disciplinary inquiry, Mr. Burch agreed to a Consent Order in which his membership with the association was cancelled and restrictions were imposed on his membership from the date of the Consent Order to the date of cancellation. Mr. Burch had previously been the subject of association disciplinary action in 2015.
Engineers and Geoscientists BC issued a Notice of Inquiry to Elwyn (Ted) Burch, P.Eng., in July 2018 regarding engineering services he provided for a landslide assessment geotechnical report for a residential property in Comox, BC. Instead of proceeding to a disciplinary inquiry, Mr. Burch agreed to a Consent Order dated November 1, 2018.
In the Consent Order, Mr. Burch admitted he demonstrated unprofessional conduct, incompetence, or negligence by affixing his seal to reports and a Landslide Assessment Assurance Statement when he:
- failed to qualify or limit the purpose for which the reports were prepared and indicated the reports could be used by the client “for any purpose” and that the Town of Comox could rely on the reports for applications for a development permit and a building permit when they were preliminary;
- represented that the geoscience work he had performed was appropriate for the issuance of a development permit when the work was still preliminary and was not suitable for the issuance of a development permit; and
- accepted responsibility for a professional assignment through the sealing of the report and the Assurance Statement when he was not qualified to do so.
Mr. Burch also admitted he demonstrated unprofessional conduct, incompetence or negligence by preparing the reports which were deficient and fell below the standard expected of a professional engineer with experience in geotechnical engineering, specifically by failing to:
- include an adequate description of the field work, including failing to include an explanation of the location of test pits and the test pit logs, and a detailed description of his observations from his site visit;
- either adequately describe the background information that he relied on, or alternatively failing to consider surficial geology maps and/or historical air photos;
- reference in the reports that he relied on reports of others;
- include on the site plan the topographic information for the property and its surrounding areas, and the recommended slope hazard mitigation recommendations;
- provide an adequate description of the slope on the property, including the height of the slope;
- describe the methodology and the assumptions he used when he calculated the factor of safety of the slope;
- provide clear definitions of important qualitative and/or descriptive terms relating to the terrain and the perceived hazard levels identified;
- adequately explain the basis for his conclusions with respect to the relevant geology and tectonic activity; and
- provide clear slope hazard mitigation recommendations and failing to explain how the risks of shallow slides and/or erosion of the slope on the property by surface water would be mitigated by the recommendations made in his reports, and failing to include an assessment of the residual risks if your recommendations in the reports were implemented.
Mr. Burch admitted he contravened section 14(b)(2) of the association’s bylaws when he failed to ensure regular, documented checks of the geological engineering work, and/or section 14(b)(1) of the association’s bylaws when he failed to retain records relating to the geoscience work.
Mr. Burch admitted his conduct was contrary to Principle 1 of the association’s Code of Ethics.
As part of the Consent Order, Mr. Burch agreed to the following:
- His membership in the association is cancelled effective January 15, 2019.
- Until then, he will transfer his ongoing professional engineering project files to other professional engineers, limit his practice to those project files he is currently engaged on, and refrain from providing landslide assessment services or slope stability analysis services;
- If he re-applies for membership or licensure with the association, he must complete and pass the Professional Practice Examination and the Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice in BC Online Seminar. If his application is approved, he must not provide landslide assessment services or slope stability analysis services, including signing or sealing landslide assessment reports, or by signing and sealing Landslide Assurance Statements.
- He will pay $3,000 towards the association’s investigation and legal costs.
- If he fails to comply with any of the terms of the Consent Order, his membership in the association will be suspended until every default has been remedied.
Mr. Burch had previously been the subject of association disciplinary action. In 2015, Mr. Burch admitted that he demonstrated unprofessional conduct surrounding sewerage and hydrology-related engineering work on a property in Comox, BC. Mr. Burch was reprimanded and was ordered to immediately cease and desist from a series of engineering practices related to the disciplinary action.
The full text of the Consent Order can be found in the Disciplinary Notices section of our website.
Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s website contains information on the complaint, investigation, and discipline processes. You can contact us at 604.558.6647 or toll-free at 1.888.430.8035 ext. 6647, or by email at [email protected].