F.S. (Fred) Cheng

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Fred Cheng, ALS
Known for

Director of Practice Review (2005-2008),

ALSA President (2016-2017)

As published in the December 2005 issue of ALS News

The majority of the membership may have met me through committees, regional meetings, and annual general meetings of the Association. There are many new faces I look forward to meeting. I intend to work closely with all the members. One of the last pieces of advice Lyall Pratt gave me prior to his departure was, “introduce yourself to the membership.” The following is a brief introduction of myself.

I was born in Hong Kong. I immigrated to Canada and arrived in Edmonton on January 1, 1975 as a teenager. I vaguely remember Hong Kong, then a British colony, where I grew up. Hong Kong encompasses approximately 420 square miles (equivalent to an area of 12 townships in Alberta) consisting of islands and the landmass of the Kowloon peninsula; Hong Kong houses six million people. One could almost envision the density and hence the preciousness of land in Hong Kong. My family lived in a flat in an estate, which is equivalent to a condominium unit in Canada. An estate could range anywhere from a conglomerate of two to twenty highrise buildings, and could house as many as ten thousand people in each estate. Land, in Kong Kong, is an extremely scarce resource. Condominiums and strata spaces are the most common real properties in Hong Kong. The property ownership registration system consisted of a rudimentary deeds registry system, until the proclamation of their Land Titles Ordinance on July 7, 2004.

As a youth, I often wondered how land was surveyed, maps were made, flat ownerships were kept track of, land was developed, floating community evolved, and boundaries were defined. I found in order to be able to answer these poignant questions that I would have to be a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. As such, I have been aspiring to be a surveyor since I was young. Indeed, I finished my secondary and post-secondary education in Edmonton, and became a member of the Alberta Land Surveyors’ Association in 1984.

My first surveying experience was with the Town of Peace River, as an instrument person in the summers while attending university. Upon graduation, I commenced employment as a plan examiner at the Director of Surveys office. I started my articles with the late Kasimir Sawicki, and then transferred to Dunc Gillmore to gain legal field experience. Thereafter, I transferred articles to the late Hans Krajewski, and then to Bill Mintz, upon returning to the Director of Surveys office.

The experience from the Director of Surveys office has been invaluable. It provided me with tremendous knowledge and understanding for the system of survey in Alberta, survey and land titles as well as other related legislation, evidence assessment and boundary evaluation, re-establishment procedures, industry’s good practice, and pertinent information to be shown on plans. I have had the opportunity to be exposed to a wide variety of plans such as subdivision, road, right-of-way, consolidation, irrigation, railway, wellsite traverse in unsurveyed territory, monument re-establishment (T-plan or ReC-plan), condominium, and official surveys. I can vividly remember what Kasimir Sawicki and Hans Krajewski taught me over the years, “every survey reestablishment is unique and each circumstance has to be judged on its own merit” and “every plan has to tell its own story” are some of the wisdom that has not been forgotten and the teachers are sadly missed.

The field experience that was provided by Dunc Gillmore Sr. was immeasurable. It was at Gillmore Surveys (Arctic) Ltd where I met Lyall Pratt and worked with him in the 1980s. These are prudent land surveyors, each possess knowledge and expertise in specialized fields such as natural boundaries, evidence assessment, Indian reserves, mineral claims, and official (townships and settlements) surveys. I have learned a great deal from both of these gentlemen, and both land surveyors demonstrated high ethical values and technical skills. It is through these two gentlemen that I have learned evidence assessment is of utmost importance in the business of surveying. Respecting original monumentation and original boundaries was some of the important training that I ever received.

I have had mapping experience with the Information Services Corporation (ISC) of Saskatchewan, the then Central Surveying and Mapping Agency, after my Director of Surveys experience. The late Denis Hosford introduced me to mapping which included: managing a provincial topographic mapping program, managing a provincial aerial photography program, provision of thematic mapping services (both digital and hard copy), conversion of provincial topographic maps into data-structured data sets under a joint federal-provincial program entitled Geographic Information Technology Development Program, and GIS products development. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to perform two of the “first in Canada” GIS projects in the early 1990s, the first one being the development of a set of 3-D data structuring specifications for the conversion of 1:50,000 NTS maps for Natural Resources Canada from polychrome manuscript materials and stereo-compiled mapping information to GIS structured data format. The second was designing a set of production specifications for the Georeferenced Land Cover maps from LandSat imagery using ground referenced controls. PFRA recognized the value of this product and subsequently funded and produced the 1:50,000 Land Cover maps for the south half of the province of Saskatchewan and parts of Alberta and Manitoba.

Perhaps, my other exciting experience with private industry was my affiliation with Challenger Geomatics Ltd. in Edmonton and Maltais Geomatics Inc. in Calgary. At Challenger, oil field survey experience was attained in terms of client liaison, project supervision, crews supervision, hands-on field surveys experience using GPS RTK applications in the mid-1990s for a variety of oil field related surveys in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Challenger is renowned in staying at the forefront of technology, as such, I have had the opportunity in participating in some of their interesting GPS projects as well.

At Maltais, municipal surveys experience was sought. I learned a great deal from Harold DeWitt, a veteran surveyor, regarding subdivision process in terms of Municipal Government Act requirements. It was under the guidance of Harold that I prepared my first strata space subdivision plan and condominium survey. Irwin Maltais taught me the importance of project management and to be responsible for the bottom line of each surveying project. All were valuable lessons which assisted me in achieving a management position at UMA Engineering in Calgary.

At UMA, I had the opportunity to apply the surveying knowledge that I learned from the Director of Surveys office, the oil field and GPS experience from Challenger, and municipal experience and business skills from Maltais to a multi-disciplinary engineering firm to re-build their geomatics department. With a great deal of hard work and effort from the team involved and a little bit of luck, I eventually became their regional geomatics manager responsible for surveying and mapping works in southern Alberta and Northwest Territory.

On the occasion of his nomination for president, 2016

  • Born in Hong Kong.
  • Moved to Edmonton, Alberta in 1975.
  • Graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor Degree in Surveying.
  • Graduated from the University of New Brunswick with a Master's Degree in Geomatics Engineering.
  • Articled to Kasimir Sawicki, Hans Krajewski, Bill Mintz and Duncan B. Gillmore Sr.
  • Received Alberta Land Surveyor commission in 1984.
  • Received Canada Lands Surveyor commission in 1985.
  • Obtained Professional Engineer designation in 1992.
  • Received J.H. Holloway Scholarship.
  • Bestowed with GeoStar Award from the Alberta Geomatics Group.
  • Volunteered for the U of A SVCC Group as ESL teacher for Indo-Asian immigrants.
  • Volunteered for CKER Multi-Cultural Radio Station as newscast in their Cantonese Program.
  • Guest lectured for U of C Geomatics Engineering classes in land planning and land boundary & land rights.
  • Nominated for the Instructional Excellence Award at NAIT for two academic years.
  • Volunteered and presented at Eclipse College’s online courses in artificial/natural boundaries.
  • Volunteered in community leagues’ hockey and soccer teams in Edmonton.
  • Employed with Hagen Surveys (1982) Ltd.

Professional Activities:

  • Served on Finance Ad Hoc Committee, ALSA as member.
  • Served on Public Relations Committee, ALSA as member.
  • Served on Standards Committee, ALSA as member.
  • Served as ALSA Southern Regional Chair.
  • Served on Editorial Board, ALSA as member and vice-chair.
  • Served on Registration Committee, ALSA as member and vice-chair.
  • Served on Education Committee, as Northern Cadastral Studies Group chair.
  • Served on Professional Development Committee, ALSA as member and chair.
  • Served on Practice Review Board, ALSA as member and Chair
  • Served on Continuing Professional Development Committee, ACLS as member and chair.
  • Served on Geographic Information Technology Committee, ACLS as member and chair.
  • Organized and moderated numerous educational seminars for ACLS & ALSA over the years.
  • Served as Director of Practice Review, ALSA.
  • Served on program advisory committees for SAIT, Lethbridge College, Northern Lakes College.
  • Served on Board of Directors, Alberta Geomatics Group (AGG).
  • Served on Canadian Board of Examiners for Professional Surveyors as Special Examiner.
  • Serving on Convention and Social Committee, ALSA as member.
  • Serving on U of C Geomatics Engineering Liaison Committee as member.
  • Serving as Vice President, as member of Executive Committee and Council, ALSA.