In the News Archive
October 2004

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New Halifax school keeps history in mind

Nova Scotia has awarded a contract to architectural firm, Fowler Bauld and Mitchell, worth $859,000, for the design and the administration of the construction of a new Halifax high school. The design of the new school was developed keeping in mind the historic nature of its nearest neighbour in downtown Halifax – Citadel Hill. The total project cost is $21 million and the school should be open for students in September 2006.

More “greening” at PWGSC

In late May 2004, the federal government department, Public Works and Government Services Canada, announced a series of short and long-term initiatives intended to transform PWGSC’s operations and show leadership in meeting government targets for sustainable development. The initiatives demonstrate the department’s commitment to ensuring that the principles of sustainable development are reflected not just in its own operations and as a custodian of real property, but in all aspects of the services it provides to other federal departments and agencies as well.

According to the announcement, greening initiatives include:

“- ensuring that PWGSC’s real property holdings are up to 40 percent more energy and greenhouse gas efficient by March 2008 than in 1990;

- aiming to achieve the LEED Gold/BREEAM Four Leaves or equivalent standard for all new PWGSC buildings by 2005, including the new buildings in Yellowknife and Charlottetown;

- introducing “green leases” to help move towards achieving the same environmental standards for Crown-owned facilities, particularly in large, long-term leases; and

- phasing in low-emission vehicles as part of the normal replacement of the government fleet, beginning with orders for 2005 model vehicles.”

Federal advertising agency selected

Following an extensive review of federal government advertising, sponsorship and public opinion polling practices done in consultation with industry, the federal government developed an action plan to overhaul its process. According to a letter written by Minister Scott Brison in July, new advertising will comply with the more stringent measures outlined in the action plan. He also wrote that, “Agencies will be selected from a pre-approved list established through competitive processes, sub-contracting will be strictly regulated, departments and agencies wishing to conduct an advertising campaign must fully justify the purpose and value, follow strict rules in selecting an advertising agency and fully document their activities to support expenditures.” In addition to new procurement rules based on the dollar value of the advertising campaign, roles and responsibilities have been clearly defined and training in the new process has been ongoing. In 2005, Treasury Board Secretariat will conduct an internal audit of the redesigned advertising program.

The new value-based procurement rules are:

  • Up to $75K – use standing offers
  • $75K-$750K – use pre-qualified supply arrangement
  • Over $750K – full, open bidding via MERX with adjudication/selection process by an impartial panel.

Following a national competitive process that saw the advertising industry consulted through a letter of interest and a draft request for proposal, and the final RFP being published on MERX, in late May 2004 Cossette Media of Toronto became the agency of record (AOR) for the federal government. The contract is for three years, with two one-year options to extend. At the same time PWGSC awarded standing offers and supply arrangements to a variety of media and communications/advertising companies across Canada for advertising and public opinion research. The names of the companies and the types of contractual arrangements they have been awarded can be found at www.pwgsc.gc.ca/sponsorship/documents/aor-announce-20040521-e.html.

Sydney tar ponds agency becomes “special”

On September 10, 2004, Nova Scotia designated the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency as a special operating agency (www.gov.ns.ca/stpa/default.asp?T=1) that will report to its own minister, Ron Russell. Originally, the agency was established as a division of the NS Department of Transportation and Public Works to focus provincial efforts in carrying out the tar ponds and coke ovens cleanup project – a project that will take $400-million and 10 years to complete. Relying on “tried and true” technologies and methodologies, the most serious contaminants will be safely destroyed and the remainder contained. Currently engineers are completing a detailed description of the project, to be followed by a mandatory environmental assessment.

The agency website will be maintained and updated by MediaSpark Inc. of Sydney, NS, who were awarded the $150,000 contract in mid September. The company will also add new features to the website – a gallery of historical and more recent photographs and a Web camera at the coke ovens – designed to keep the public informed about ongoing work at the clean-up site: new photos will be taken by artist Carol Kennedy.

Islanders to get fibre optic network

In early September, the Government of Canada and the province of Québec confirmed their partnership in support of the installation of underwater fibre optic cables between Iles-de-la-Madeleine and Gaspésie. Should the environmental assessment currently underway conclude that there will be no significant negative impacts, the project will proceed this fall – weather permitting. The cabling, which is over 230 km. long, will bring a modern telecommunications network to the islands that is estimated to meet the islands’ needs for at least 25 years. Canada (through the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund) and Québec will each contribute $6.9 million, for a total project investment of $13.8 million.

ICAP helps fund Dow Centennial Centre

In early September 2004, the Infrastructure Canada-Alberta Program (ICAP) supplemented the funding of Fort Saskatchewan’s new cultural and recreation facility – Dow Centennial Centre – to the tune of $3.2 million. The funds will assist with building and energy efficiency enhancements, the paving of the parking lot, landscaping and signage. The centre includes a 550-seat theatre, art gallery, pottery and visual arts studios, meeting and banquet rooms, ice arena, indoor soccer pitch, fitness area and walking/running track.

ICAP (www.icap-pica.ca/english/home/main.htm) is a partnership between the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and, in some cases, private-sector organizations. Under ICAP, the federal and provincial governments provide up to two-thirds of the funding for eligible costs. Partnering communities or private partners provide the remaining one-third of project funding and any ineligible costs. To date, ICAP has directed funds to 611 municipal projects that include municipal water and wastewater systems, roads, bridges and transit, affordable housing, solid waste disposal and recycling, tourism, cultural or recreation facilities, or the improvement of the energy efficiency of municipal buildings. ICAP is implemented by Western Economic Diversification Canada and Alberta Transportation, and is administered by a joint secretariat. Projects are approved by the ICAP Management Committee comprised of representatives from the governments of Canada and Alberta, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts.

Nanaimo puts its new centre to a vote

After struggling to find the right private-sector partner, Nanaimo, British Columbia is taking its plan to build a combined conference centre, museum, auditorium, parkade, hotel and commercial space in its downtown to a vote in late November. Citizens will decide whether the city should take a $30 million loan for the New Nanaimo Centre project, estimated to cost a $100 million. City reserves, government grants and Triarc International Inc., a hotel and conference centre developer, will help fund the project. As part of the development, Triarc will build residential condo units from which the city will take its share of the condo sales to help fund a new twin arena. An advisory committee that includes council members, business people and community leaders will oversee the partnership.

DND buys protective gear and upgrades system

In late August, the Department of National Defence awarded a $24-million contract to Pacific Safety Products Inc. based in Kelowna, BC for approximately 50,000 Horizon 1 Chemical Warfare protective coveralls, “a dual-layered garment designed to provide toxicological agent protection. A liquid-agent repellent outer layer combined with a vapour-protective inner barrier layer that is thinner and more flexible than material previously available, permits the design of a closer fitting coverall with a reduced bulk and improved wearability.”

The coverall will be produced in both the Temperate Woodland and Arid Region versions of CADPAT (Canadian Disruptive Pattern. See Summit, September 2004 for more information). Pacific Safety Products Inc. will begin delivering the first Horizon 1 CW Protective Coveralls early in 2005, with final delivery expected in 2007.

In mid September, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA), based in Richmond, BC, won a $17.3 million contract from the Department of National Defence (DND) to upgrade its naval operator information system – a simulation of a ship’s control room that assists in training and decision-making. The upgraded system should be fully operational by 2006.

Maryland chooses paperless ballots

Paper ballots will not be used in the State of Maryland for the US general election this November. On September 14, 2004, Maryland’s highest court rejected demands from a concerned organization, TruevoteMD, for additional safeguards for touch-screen voting machines. The court said election officials had done everything necessary to ensure the paperless devices – the Diebold AccuVote-TS machines – are accurate and secure.

Simcoe selects software to monitor performance

Section 83.1 of Ontario’s Municipal Act requires Ontario municipalities to inform their taxpayers on specific performance related measures. According to the Ontario government website, the objectives of the Municipal Performance Measurement Program (introduced in the 2000 reporting year) are “designed to provide taxpayers with useful information on service delivery and municipalities with a tool to improve those services over time. The program requires municipalities to collect data to measure their performance in 10 core municipal service areas.” Water, wastewater, solid-waste management, land-use planning, local-government administration, roads, transit, fire and police are examples of core municipal services. The program will also strengthen local accountability to taxpayers and promote understanding of municipal responsibilities.

To meet the requirements of Section 83.1, the County of Simcoe implemented a “balanced scorecard” performance management process. Projects, process and actions will be tracked and reported on as they relate to Simcoe’s goals and vision. To support the process, they recently chose Panorama Business Views’ software, pbviews (www.pbviews.com), as the tool to help them automate and monitor performance measures.

Ottawa expands Ray Friel Recreation Centre through P3

Serco has been managing the Ray Friel Recreation Centre in Orleans, a suburb of Ottawa, under a public-private partnership (P3) for some time. Following several months of negotiation, in early September, Ottawa announced a $13 million construction project with Serco for the addition of two NHL-sized ice surfaces, another 6,000 square feet of programming space, and other improvements to the Ray Friel Centre. The added facilities will be owned by the city; Serco will pay for the construction costs from the revenues generated by the expanded facility over the life of the agreement. To repay the debt on the construction costs and establish a reserve fund to cover all costs incurred for ongoing maintenance – including repair, replacement and upgrades – of the addition, the company will pay the city a concession fee. Serco will also contribute to the lifecycle reserve fund for the existing facility on an annual basis. The new addition is scheduled for completion in the summer 2005.

House of Commons gets green "seal of approval"

In early September, the House of Commons became an Environmental Choice Programä licensee, achieving EcoLogoä certification for its digital and lithographic printing processes – a reverse-osmosis system which allows the reuse of water for their printing processes, saving money and helping the environment in the process.

Environment Canada’s Environmental Choice Programä (www.terrachoice.com) is administered by TerraChoice Environmental Marketing. According to their website they “help governments deploy market instruments to advance their environmental, social and sustainable development policy agendas.”

National road weather information system in the works

Travellers and road maintenance crews will benefit from the work Transport Canada is doing with the provinces and territories to develop a cross-Canada RWIS network. The department will pay up to 50 percent of eligible costs for the acquisition and installation of system components. As a condition of funding, provinces and territories would pay the balance, as well as the ongoing operation and maintenance costs, and they must enter into a data-sharing agreement with Environment Canada.

In early September negotiations were completed with Nova Scotia and two intelligent transportation systems projects were announced: additional road weather information systems (RWIS) will be installed on the provincial portion of the national highway network as well as on some roads not part of the national system, and weigh-in-motion (WIM) technology will be used at the Auld Cove weigh station. WIM technology automatically detects overweight vehicles without interrupting the flow of traffic.

RWIS stations obtain data from sensors, embedded in and below the road and on nearby towers, that measure atmospheric and pavement temperatures. The data allows provincial staff to make informed decisions on the best time to apply de-icing chemicals to the road and how much to use. It is also useful for weather forecasters predicting road conditions. Real-time images of the highways are available from the Web cameras mounted on RWIS stations.


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