Welcome to my personal website, GordMcKenna.com

The purpose of this website is to share my passion for engineering and photograph with you and encourage you to contact me so we can talk about your experience or areas that we might be able to collaborate together.  You may also wish to visit the BGC Engineering website or the University of Alberta website for more information.



Gord’s CV/Resume Gord’s Bio Gord’s technical papers Gord’s Photos on Flickr Landform design short courses






Upcoming events….


December 2014. Lake Louise, AB , Canada. My colleagues and I are putting on a short course at the International Oil Sands Tailings Conference on December 7 entitled: Hot Topics in Oil Sands Tailings Management.


January 2015. Vancouver, BC , Canada. Sustainable Mining NOW, my website and book with Rob Abbott is due out. Finishing my writing on this new book now. Watch for it.





2014 events….


January 2014. Vancouver & Victoria, BC, Canada. Had some quiet time in the mornings and evenings to catch some harbour photos of a couple of my favourite sites — False Creek in Vancouver and Victoria’s Inner Harbour.


February 2014. Palm Springs, CA, USA. We had a wonderful time on a Vancouver Sun mid-century modern tour in Palm Springs.  Photos from the trip are on my Flickr Site.


March 2014. Ladner, BC, Canada. I’ve started lessons for my private pilot’s license through the Pacific Flying Club at our Boundary Bay Airport CZBB. Loving it.


April 7-9, 2014. Whistler, BC, Canada. Seminar on Cold Regions Cover Systems and Mine Closure. I’m helping to organize this seminar and we’ll be presenting a landform and cover design course with OKC, IEG, and UofS. This work follows the new MEND Cold Regions cover manual that I helped author in 2010.


April 21, 2014. Richmond, BC, Canada. I took a one day flash photography portraiture course with 40 other students today. We focussed on using speedlights (camera flashes rather than big studio flashes) to light models and events. There was a day-long classroom style session followed by an evening master session photographing four models and receiving one on one training from the instructors. I learned some new lighting techniques, how to configure my cameras and flashes to all work together wirelessly, and got some good experience shooting. It’s nice to have these extra skills for photographing friends and family events. https://www.flickr.com/photos/gord99/sets/72157644788931363/


May 5-6, 2014. Edmonton, AB, Canada. Our Expert Panel on the Potential for New and Emerging Technologies to Reduce the Environmental Impacts of Oil Sands Development, as part of the Council of Canadian Academies, had its second meeting where we focussed on guiding the research and focussing the report. Our task is to answer the question: “How could new and existing technologies be used to reduce the environmental footprint of oil sands development on air, water, and land?” It is a delight to work with such a diverse, talented, and experienced panel and with the keen, professional, and efficient Council staff. http://www.scienceadvice.ca/en/assessments/in-progress/oil-sands.aspx. Our report is due out on schedule in March 2015.


May 14, 2014. Vancouver, BC, Canada. I was honoured to sit on an expert panel at the CIM 2014 Conference ESRS Session: Tailings — Pushing the Boundaries. We had about 50 people in attendance which gave us a good opportunity to discuss methods of making step changes to mine tailings management from  design, planning, environmental, and sustainable mining perspectives. There is talk of a special issue of the CIM Bulletin to highlight work in this area and findings from our session. http://vancouver2014.cim.org/en/Conference/Technical-Program.aspx


May 14, 2014. Vancouver, BC, Canada. The Syncrude Sandhill Fen received a 2014 TSM Award for Environmental Excellence for “innovative projects that raise the bar for corporate responsibility in the Canadian Mining Sector”. At BGC, we’re pleased to be part of the design for this instrumented watershed/wetland project and to contribute to the ongoing world-class research at the Syncrude Canada Ltd Mildred Lake oil sands mining operation. http://www.mining.ca/towards-sustainable-mining/tsm-awards


June 2014. Calgary, AB, Canada. Presented my 25th short course, Landform design for oil sands for a client in Calgary.


August 2014. Ladner, BC, Canada. I’ve been working on my private pilot’s license this year through Pacific Flying Club at Boundary Bay Airport (CZBB) near my home in Ladner. On August 9th I had my first solo flight (in a Cessna 172). Hope to complete the license early in 2015. It has been a real delight thus far.


September 2014. Hawaii, US. We took a cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii, then around the islands before flying back home. Thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing, a bit of a chance to work on my Sustainable Mining Now book, and some opportunities for photos.


October 2014. Fort McMurray, AB, Canada. Our two-year odyssey was completed this week with the online publication of the CEMA Guidelines for Wetland Establishment (3rd edition). A huge team effort and part of a wonderful series of oil sands reclamation guides. Nice to have this one done.



2013 events….

December 11-13 2013. Vancouver, BC , Canada. BGC Engineering has its annual general meeting week where we bring all staff (and their partners) from all our offices around the world for training, communications, and to help keep the “one team” spirit of BGC as we continue to grow. This event is always a major highlight of the year, especially the short talks by junior staff on their projects of the last year.


November 28, 2013. Ottawa, ON, Canada. I’ve been appointed to The Expert Panel on the Potential for New and Emerging Technologies to Reduce the Environmental Impacts of Oil Sands Development, under the Council of Canadian Academies for the Minister of Natural Resources, on behalf of Natural Resources Canada. The Panel kicked off its work at the end of November. I’m honoured and excited to be part of this Panel. This work will partially build upon the 2012 COSIA Tailings Technology Roadmap that I co-authored as part of a large group of oil sands consultants working under contract to OSTC (now COSIA).


November 21, 2013. Vancouver, BC, Canada. BGC Engineering is finishing up its design chapters for the CEMA Oil Sands Wetland Design Manual due out next June. Similar to our role in preparation of the CEMA Oil Sands End Pit Lakes Guidance Document in 2012, we’re co-authoring chapters on closure planning for wetlands, landform design for wetlands, construction of wetland, and monitoring / adaptive management. It is a delight to work with Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, CPP, CEMA, Ducks Unlimited, OKC, and Westhawk Associates on these chapters and with professors from across North America on the science chapters that lead the manual. I would argue that CEMA and oil sands leads the world in creation of multiparty design documents for mine reclamation.


November 12, 2013. Sparwood, BC, Canada. In town for watershed research meetings, I stopped by the Sparwood Big Green Truck for some November twilight photos.


November 8, 2013. Vancouver, BC, Canada. I stopped on my way home from work this evening and caught some nice Granville Island night panorama photos. November twilight is my favourite light.


November 5, 2013. Banff, Alberta, Canada. Julian McGreevy and Rosa An presented papers we coauthored on creating useful mine closure plans for mining landscapes and creating regional mine closure plans for mining regions, providing insight into how to improve the effectiveness of the mine closure planning process. The papers were well received.  Tailings and Mine Waste 2013  participants noted the inherent challenges inherent with existing planning processes.


November 3-6, 2013. Banff, Alberta, Canada. The annual Tailings and Mine Waste conferences are important for the mining industry and we enjoyed giving our Landform Design Shortcourse at Tailings and Mine Waste 2013 in Banff, Alberta. Staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs is always a treat, and the conference is a great place to learn and catch up with colleagues. Banff is quiet that time of year (the conference is held in in the ‘tween’ season).  The course was presented in collaboration with O’Kane Associates .


October 2013. Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  We put on our Landform Design Shortcourse  twice for two large oil sands companies in Calgary, working with staff to design virtual and real landforms and mining landscapes. It is always such a pleasure to work with multidisciplinary teams, to teach and to learn.


October 4, 2013. Santiago, Chile. BGC presented “Seminario de Planificación de Cierre Minero: Nueva Normativa Chilena de Cierre de Minas Oportunidades y Beneficios” (Mine Closure Planning Seminar: New regulations for the Chilean Mining Industry — opportunities and benefits). The day-long seminar was well attended and we taught and discussed with the participants (all from the Chilean mining industry) how to comply with the new regulations and how to benefit from creating and following good closure plans. Photos from my trip (and photos from a past trip in 2010). I was fortunate to have a great translator for my two talks in the seminar.


September 9-12, 2013. Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. We presented our Landform Design Shortcourse at the  Canadian Land Reclamation Association AGM & conference along with O’Kane Associates and Integral Ecology. Whitehorse is a great place, especially in September.  Photos from my Yukon trip.


June 12-18, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, GTNP.  Just got back from a great photography course in Grand Teton National Park (in Wyoming) hosted by Dan Ballard. It was a great group of ten students and three instructors, on the road every morning at 430am, finishing up most nights at 10pm. The main focus was training, but we also got some really good light and some even better skies, and all returned with numerous great shots and a new way of looking at the world. I’d highly recommend Dan’s courses. My GTNP photos are posted on my Flickr Site.


April 24, 2013, Edmonton, Canada. We presented our BGC Landform Design Shortcourse at the University of Alberta Land Reclamation International Graduate School (LRIGS). We had about a dozen students and two dozen industry, regulatory, and consulting representatives. The course was well received and a lot of fun.


March 2, 2013, Calgary, Canada. I was thrilled to be asked to join the Shell oil sands Tailings Geotechnical Advisory Panel. It is an honour to be a part of this panel and to provide review to the Shell Muskeg River and Jackpine mines.


March 2013, Maui, Hawaii. We had a great vacation in Hawaii — photos.


February 14, 2013, Edmonton, Canada. Presented our Landform design workshop to the 4th year reclamation students at the University of Alberta.


February 2013. Calgary, Canada: Kicking off work on the third edition of the CEMA Wetland Design Manual for planning, design, construction, operation, and certification of wetlands in the Athabasca Oil Sands of Alberta. A mix of the team from the end pit lake guide and some new experts from near and far.


February 20, 2013. Vancouver, Canada: Presenting my first UBGC Panorama Photography lunch ‘n learn at BGC Engineering for interested staff in Vancouver and with video links to our other offices in North and South America.


January 28, 2013. Edmonton, Canada: Held a half-day workshop for the University of Alberta 4th year mining engineering undergraduate class on “Closure Planning and Landform Design.” Terrific bunch of 32 students who worked well in teams working up a real-life landform design. Jordana Fair, also of BGC, was a co-presenter.


January 2013. Phoenix, Arizona: We had a great vacation and enjoyed touring around. My vacation photos posted here


January 1, 2013. Vancouver, Canada: Got some nice New Year’s sunrise photographs around Vancouver this morning.




Earlier events








Sunrise on the Badwater Salt Flats in Death Valley, California (USA). (Photo by Courtenay Gilbert http://courtenaygilbert.com/)