James Blatz is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer and founding partner at TREK with 20 years of experience in consulting and applied research. James provides technical support and project management on geotechnical projects for diverse projects across our market sectors. He specializes in numerical modeling of soil behaviour including finite element stress deformation, seepage, thermal and multi-phase flow applications as well as interpretation of soil behaviour from laboratory testing. James has extensive experience as a technical design reviewer on major projects such as the Keeyask Work Camp foundation design and construction, the Red River Floodway Expansion, the Fort Hills Ore Processing Facility design, the Ste. Adolphe Emergency Bridge Rehabilitation and as a technical expert on a number of legal claims and formal alternative dispute resolution processes. James also has extensive research experience in the areas of geosynthetic soil reinforcement, ground improvement techniques, temporary flood protection products and probabilistic slope stability analysis. James is President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at TREK and a key member of TREK’s leadership team.
Nelson Ferreira, Ph.D., P.Eng.
Senior Vice-President and COO Senior Geotechnical Engineer
Nelson Ferreira is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer and founding partner at TREK with over 16 years of experience practicing in Manitoba, western Canada and the North. His experience involves earthworks, riverbanks and bridges including the Red River Floodway expansion, the Distance Early Warning (DEW-Line), and several East Side Road projects (both roads and bridges). Nelson completed an M.Sc. in geotechnical engineering in 2002 studying the effects of unsaturated soils on the stability of cutting slopes. In 2016, he completed his Ph.D. in geotechnical engineering examining the risk to buried gas pipelines subjected to ground movements (landslides). Nelson specializes in geotechnical investigations, construction management, erosion protection, materials, and engineering in remote locations. Nelson is Senior Vice-President and Chief Operations Officer (COO) and a key member of TREK’s leadership team.
Michael Van Helden, Ph.D., P.Eng.
Vice-President Finance and CFO Senior Geotechnical Engineer
Michael Van Helden is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer and founding partner at TREK with over 10 years of experience. He specializes in numerical modeling and design of slope stabilization works, the use of probabilistic methods in geotechnical engineering, and the design, construction and testing of deep foundations. Michael has lead the design and construction of foundations for dozens of bridge and culvert structures in Manitoba and Ontario. Michael manages dynamic pile load testing services at TREK, and has provided PDA testing and CAPWAP analysis on numerous structures. He achieved the rank of Intermediate on the Dynamic Measurement and Analysis Proficiency Test for PDA testing. Michael was the project manager and lead geotechnical engineer for some notable projects, including the replacement of the 1st Street Bridge in Brandon, Manitoba, which includes driven steel pile and drilled shaft foundations in clay shale. Michael was recognized for his career achievements with the APEGM Early Achievement Award in 2013. Michael is a Vice-President and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and a key member of TREK’s leadership team.
Kent Bannister, M.Sc., P.Eng.
Vice-President Engineering and CTO Senior Geotechnical Engineer
Kent Bannister is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer and partner at TREK having worked in the geotechnical engineering field for 18 years in both the private and public sectors. His consulting experience has included positions in Manitoba and Alberta, and he also served as the Head of Manitoba Hydro’s Geotechnical Engineering Section for several years. Kent experience is diverse, ranging from dam safety, to mine waste containment, heavy industrial foundations and riverbank stabilization projects. Since joining TREK in 2012, Kent has been the project lead for several large design-build or PPP infrastructure and energy projects, including the Keeyask Generation Station Work Camp foundations, Winnipeg’s Southwest Rapid Transit Stage 2 project, the Riel Converter Station Synchronous Condensers foundations, and the McOrmond and Boychuk Interchanges in Saskatoon. Kent contributed to TREK’s rapid growth and joined the ownership team and Board of Directors in 2013; Kent is now a Vice-President and Chief Technical Officer (CTO) and a key member of our leadership team.
Ken Skaftfeld, M.Sc., P.Eng.
Director Senior Geotechnical Engineer
Ken Skaftfeld is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer and partner at TREK and has over 30 years of experience. Ken specializes in slope stabilization, engineering in peat and muskeg, and cold regions engineering. Throughout his career, Ken has contributed to projects in Western Canada, North-western Ontario, the Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Ken has diverse experience in the public and private sectors, including work on railways, roads, bridges, mine tailings facilities, dams, slope stabilization and erosion protection. Some notable projects Ken has worked on include Decommissioning of DEW-Line sites in the Canadian arctic, as well as Dike Upgrading works at the Farley and Fox mine sites in Lynn Lake, Manitoba. Kens impact on TREK’s practice has been invaluable and he joined the ownership team and Board of Directors in 2013.
Brent Hay is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer and partner at TREK and has nine years of geotechnical and geo-environmental consulting experience. The extent of his work includes project management, contract administration and the geotechnical design and analysis for various projects throughout Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Nunavut. Brent’s projects have included civil infrastructure and remediation of contaminated sites, foundation design for bridges and structures, community flood protection works and slope stabilization and rehabilitation works. Major projects Brent has been involved with include various Dew Line Clean Up Project sites in Northern Canada, the Keeyask Generating Station Work Camp Construction, the Keewatinohk Bi-Pole III Converter Station, and the Former Snow Lake Mine Site Surface Capping System in Northern Manitoba. Brent joined TREK in 2011 and has been on the ownership team and Board of Directors since 2014.
Ryan Belbas, M.Sc., P.Eng.
Senior Geotechnical Engineer
Ryan Belbas is a Geotechnical Engineer with 10 years of consulting experience. Ryan has extensive experience in construction, having observed the installation of thousands of piles, as well as high-strain dynamic load testing (PDA testing) of hundreds more. Since joining TREK in 2014, Ryan served as Lead Geotechnical Engineer and Project Manager on numerous projects, including the Ness Avenue Replacement Bridge over the Sturgeon Creek. Ryan has provided construction observation of rock-socketed caissons in Winnipeg at several sites, including the Riel Converter Station, and participated in the first Osterberg-cell load test in Wininpeg.
Jim Friesen, P.Eng.
Manager of Water Resource Engineering Senior Water Resource Engineer
Jim Friesen is a Senior Hydro-technical Engineer and Manager of TREK’s Water Resources group and has 20 years of experience. Jim has provided hydrologic and hydraulic analysis and designs to urban, rural and First Nation Clients in Water Resources and Municipal Engineering. His services have been applied to hydraulic modelling; infrastructure design; flood protection development; technical investigations; mine water management, environmental protection designs; Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis; economic cost benefit studies; and provision of resident engineering services relating to the design and construction of municipal infrastructure, drainage and shoreline protection. Jim joined TREK in 2017 to lead a new Water Resource Engineering group to complement our established geotechnical practice.
Bruce Harding, P.Eng.,
Senior Water Resource Engineer
Bruce Harding is a Senior Hydraulic Engineer at TREK and has 28 years of hydraulic engineering experience on water resources related projects. Bruce has considerable experience in hydraulic structure design, having participated in the design of various spillways, control structures, fishways, bridges and box culverts for numerous clients. Bruce has developed designs to provide habitat (fishery) compensation to mitigate habitat disruption and loss at numerous projects. After 12 years as a sole practitioner, TREK acquired Bruce Harding Consulting in 2017 to form a new water resources group under Bruce’s technical oversight.