In the News Archive
July 2005

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Broadband opportunities grow in Nova Scotia

Under Industry Canada’s Broadband for Rural and Northern Development program, seven innovative, public-private community projects are bringing high-speed Internet services to 200 more Nova Scotia communities. The seven projects are: the Cape Breton Connectivity Alliance; Connecting Cumberland; Broadband Solutions for Rural Development (Victoria County); Richmond County Broadband Project; “Leading the Way” Antigonish County Broadband Project; Connecting Guysborough; and the South West Shore Broadband Initiative.

High-speed service enables business websites complete with e-commerce capacity as well as providing opportunities for distance education, training and telehealth services.

The provincial and federal governments, individual communities and the private sector support the projects. Nova Scotia has invested $450,000 in the program over the past two years. To date, more than $16 million has been invested in Nova Scotia projects under the Industry Canada program. It is expected that the broadband program will help push the percentage of Nova Scotia homes with access to high-speed service to more than 80 percent.

Kelowna converts landfill gas to electricity

On June 21, 2005, the City of Kelowna opened its new Microturbine Pilot Project at the Glenmore Landfill. FortisBC, in its first involvement in a landfill gas conversion project, is working with the city on the project. Electricity generated by the microturbine will power the landfill operations. As part of its support for the project, FortisBC has agreed to purchase any excess electricity at five cents per kWh during the three-year pilot period.

Prior to implementing the pilot, landfill gas (which includes methane, a greenhouse gas, CO2 and trace other gases) was allowed to dissipate or was burned off. With this new technology, it becomes an environmentally friendly, sustainable energy source. The microturbine is leased from the Canmet Energy Technology Centre (a division of Natural Resources Canada) at $10 per year. A series of horizontal pipes underneath the solid waste at the landfill, that collect landfill gas created from decomposing waste, are connected to the microturbine, which then burns the gas to generate electricity.

Quebec and Montreal consider entertainment complex proposal

Loto-Québec and the Cirque du Soleil are proposing the establishment of a unique world-class entertainment complex, to be located in Montreal’s historic du Havre area, which would reflect the dynamic culture and vitality of the city and the Province of Quebec. The complex would include a 300-room hotel and 2,500-seat performance hall. The proposal also includes relocating the Casino de Montréal to the site and providing it more space than its current establishment. In addition, the complex would include a spa, a place for artists of all kinds to work and show their work, and a park large enough to accommodate the Cirque du Soleil’s big top tent.

Loto-Québec’s investment in the project is estimated at $997 million and contributions from private partners are estimated at $178 million. Loto-Québec would be the project manager; internationally known and respected entertainment group, Cirque du Soleil would look after design, creative and artistic direction. The entire complex would bear the signature of the Cirque du Soleil.

With an eye to the future, Loto-Québec negotiated an agreement, pending the provincial government’s approval, to acquire land to the west of the proposed complex that could become the home of an exhibition centre. This land is close to the site of Montreal’s recently announced future soccer stadium. The overall vision for the area includes construction of a monorail to connect all three to each other and other area attractions.

Loto-Québec presented this proposal last year in its 2004-2007 Development Plan. If the province approves the project, then the municipal authority will review it and public consultations will be held. The proposal proponents, Loto-Québec and the Cirque du Soleil, will cooperate fully with these consultations as they hope to inaugurate the new complex in 2010-2011.

New Brunswick increases target for green energy supply

New Brunswick recently targetted an additional 10 percent of the electricity consumption in the province to come from renewable energy sources by 2016, which will bring the province’s consumption total of renewable energy up to about 33 percent. Synapse Energy Inc., hired to research the energy sector in the province, helped to establish a minimum requirement – the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) – for renewable energy. Distribution utilities selling to customers in New Brunswick would have to adhere to transmission capacity and rate management techniques, when establishing the new regulation standard.

Wind, biomass, hydro and electricity generated from landfill gases are common forms of renewable energy that are expected to contribute to reaching the target. Investments in renewable energy stimulate the economy; lessen reliance on out-of province sources and types of supply; help stabilize the price of power; and help the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Canadian technology for trucking firms first to meet new US border requirements

The first company in Canada accredited by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as complying with the new Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) for the trucking community is CrimsonLogic (www.crimsonlogic.ca).

TradePalette, CrimsonLogic’s Web-based supply chain logistics solution, complied with CBP’s stringent requirements under different testing scenarios. Under a new upcoming regulation that will be mandatory at all border crossings in 2006, the trucking industry will have to provide manifest information prior to arrival into the US. When ACE goes live in 2006, it will require advance submission of highway carrier manifests – one hour or 30 minutes (for fast shipments) – to CBP before the arrival of the truck at the US border or face being turned away or fined. TradePalette is the first product certified to allow them to do that, and to do so directly without going through a third party.

CrimsonLogic has also recently implemented systems for the ocean carrier market for submission of manifest data to the US Customs, Canada Border Services Agency and the Panama Canal authorities.

Surrey’s revitalized community centre opens

North Surrey Recreation Centre has been retrofitted and expanded as a result of the Whalley Revitalization in Action capital investment initiative. In May 2003, Surrey City Council committed $5,150,000 for capital projects, leisure programs and services to support a number of initiatives in Whalley and Surrey City Centre.

CEI Architecture designed the centre to serve as a recreation hub for the City Centre community. The $2.23 million expansion includes new features and amenities such as the state-of-the-art 5,000 square foot weight and fitness centre; two multipurpose rooms; two meeting rooms; two arenas; a swimming pool; a community Internet access workstation; physiotherapy services; and a new lobby and reception area.

Mobile satellite high-speed Internet supports Manitoba urban search and rescue team

Manitoba’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team is the first of its kind in Canada to add a mobile satellite high-speed Internet system (costing $25,000) to improve field communications. The portable, automatic and aircraft-deployable system can connect multiple computers via satellite to transmit and receive voice, data and video communications from any location.

A total of $1 million has been committed for equipment and training through the federal-provincial USAR initiative, which is funded on a 75/25, federal/provincial basis. Under the initiative, a variety of equipment has been purchased for Manitoba’s USAR unit (established in the fall of 2003), including an ultra-sensitive sound detection system, a specialized video camera for looking under rubble, insulated tents, vehicles and various other support gear required to sustain self-contained field operations.

The 120-member USAR team was created to provide the unique skills and equipment needed for building collapses caused by natural or man-made actions and is operated under the direction of the Office of the Fire Commissioner. Team members include many professionals such as engineers, welders, electricians, plumbers, heavy-duty mechanics, hydraulics experts and heavy equipment operators in addition to firefighters, doctors, paramedics and law enforcement officers from across the province.

Manitoba USAR is also trained and equipped to deploy to any type of emergency in the province to assist or support municipalities. In the event of an emergency, a team of up to 60 personnel with a search dog-team, can be deployed anywhere within the province. Operational plans call for the unit to be able to respond to 80 percent of Manitoba within six to eight hours, or be on the road within six hours if deployed to emergencies in other provinces.

Manitoba USAR is a fully self-contained response team equipped to operate 24 hours a day from its own field base. The provincial team is also the only urban emergency team in Canada trained and equipped for cold-weather response situations.

Participating agencies include RCMP, Manitoba Hydro, Winnipeg Police Service, regional health authorities, EMS services and all municipal fire services.

The development of the USAR program is the responsibility of the federal Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada (PSEPC). PSEPC ensures that USAR program development is coordinated, and appropriately shared, among the federal government, provinces, major urban centres and other national, and international, stakeholders. According to the PSEPC website, “The main elements of a national USAR program are based on components of operational readiness, leading to capacity to deploy (at short notice) in response to domestic disasters. PSEPC has identified the five following priorities for the development of a national USAR program:

  • Plans, policies and protocols on responsibilities of the federal government, USAR teams deployed outside home jurisdictions and afflicted jurisdictions;
  • A standard equipment cache packaged for air movement and self-sustaining operations;
  • Training in technical skills and joint operations with other teams;
  • Canadian national guidelines or standards, where required; and,
  • Exercises to hone and maintain capability and develop inter-operability.

There are five Canadian cities (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax) and the Province of Manitoba with, or developing, interoperable Heavy USAR capacity. The cost of USAR development is shared with provinces and territories through the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP).

In addition to Heavy USAR development, PSEPC also supports the development of a complementary range of modular capacities for light and medium USAR in smaller urban centres across the country. Forty-one (41) other jurisdictions in Canada have accessed available funds to develop light and medium USAR capabilities with a 50 percent JEPP project share.”

Partners provide new emergency radio system for Musquodoboit Valley, Nova Scotia

In 2001, the province of Nova Scotia put in place a trunked mobile radio network that covered 95 percent of the province to provide radio communication for public-safety and public works services at all levels of government. However, the volunteer rural fire departments of the Musquodoboit Valley were finding that they were not getting good, reliable communications coverage due to land contours. To address the problem, Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), through Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, partnered with the province and in June 2005 purchased a new emergency radio system at a cost of $220,000. With the system located in the Chaswood area, communications in the valley are much improved.

The cost of the system were shared as follows: 87.5 percent by the government of Nova Scotia (87.5 percent) through the departments of Transportation and Public Works, Health, and Natural Resources; HRM is responsible for 12.5 percent; and the RCMP have donated equipment.

Ottawa looks for P3 partner for Orleans art centre

On June 22, 2005, Ottawa city staff were officially told to go-ahead to initiate a request for qualifications process as part of the search for a private sector investor for the proposed Orleans Arts Centre. In October 2004, city council had approved a seven-step strategy for the public-private partnership (P3) model. Under this scenario, the private partner (selection of the preferred P3 partner is planned for June 2006) would cover the costs of construction and the city will manage the arts facility, which would be located in Orleans, a growing suburb on the east side of Ottawa. The city is prepared to contribute $9 million of its capital budget and estimates that another $4.1 million is required to complete the project. The new arts facility would include a 500-seat theatre, a gallery and exhibition space and a rehearsal space.

Canadian Navy to replace SNAPS systems

In June, Public Works and Government Services Canada, on behalf of the Department of National Defence, awarded a $1.7 million contract to Offshore Systems International (OSI) to supply an integrated submarine navigation and weapons management system for the Canadian Navy’s Victoria Class submarines that will replace the existing Shipboard Navigation and Plotting System (SNAPS) on four submarines and at two shore-based facilities. The SNAPS system dates from the 1960s. OSI (www.osil.com) is also the fleet supplier to the Canadian Navy for electronic chart navigation systems, but this SNAPS contract is its first significant one for replacement command and control systems.

Alberta partners with TELUS to improve emergency response system

The Alberta government is working with telecommunications firm, TELUS, on a two-year, $12-million pilot project to design a better emergency response system. The cost of the program is split equally with Alberta’s share of the funding being provided by the provincial government’s Innovation Program.

Using wireless and Web-based technologies, the project will bring together eight separate emergency management systems into one user-friendly system – the Emergency Management Operating System (EMOS) – making it easier for municipalities, industry and the province to prepare for and respond to emergencies and disasters. EMOS will include improved tools for planning, monitoring, training simulations and incident modeling to help forecast what tools and equipment will be needed, as well as an enhanced notification system to both contact local first responders and call in additional resources as needed.

Participating organizations in the pilot include the Sundre Petroleum Operators Group, (representatives from four communities in central Alberta) and the Northern Region Community Awareness and Emergency Response Group (representatives from 15 communities in north central Alberta).

Alberta’s Innovation Program was established in 2004 as a three-year, $33-million initiative to support innovative proposals developed by Alberta government departments, agencies, boards, commissions, Crown corporations and their partners.

Modern property management by remote control

Edmonton-based property management firm, The Canapen Group, provides property and asset management services for the CN Railway pension fund’s real estate investments in Canada. The company recently made the decision to migrate to Symantec Corporation’s pcAnywhere remote access system. Randy Redekopp, Canapen’s manager of information systems says he chose the sophisticated product because “it offered good throughput even over dial-up connections, it had smart file transfer capabilities, and because it worked without a lot of fuss or overhead.” With the newest software, users can access remote systems from Windows Pocket PC and Pocket PC Phone Edition devices through Wi-Fi, cellular or Bluetooth connections. According to Redekopp, pcAnywhere gave the company greater possibilities in conducting its operations — providing technical support for its 15-person satellite office in Montreal, accessing all of the companies’ servers in both offices, controlling the buildings’ utility services, and monitoring and accessing security systems.

Nova Scotia and partners invest in new health technology

In mid-June 2005, Nova Scotia and its partners invested in a $5.5-million positron emission tomography (PET) program – a powerful new diagnostic tool for cancer, cardiac, and neurological diseases. The PET program will lead to faster, more accurate diagnoses – meaning improved treatment options and faster treatment recovery times – and it will attract more money for research. The province invested $3 million, the QEII Foundation contributed $1.5 million and the diagnostic imaging doctors and Aliant each contributed $500,000. The PET scan, which will be purchased in 2005 and operational in two years, also incorporates a CT machine.

Materiel Management Institute awards and new board of directors

In May 2005 the federal Materiel Management Institute (MMI) held its annual conference and annual general meeting, the Materiel Management National Workshop (MMNW).

Each year the MMI recognizes the excellent work of its members through a series of awards. Below are this year’s winners.

Materiel Management Recognition Award – Team

Awarded to: CRA – Informatics Professional Services Supply Chain (ITPSSC)

CRA – ITPSSC Project Team: Judy Bonacci; Jim Clark, RFP Solutions; Diane Page; Karen Anderson; Stefan Neagoe; Frank A. Richter, A/Commr. (Ret.), RFP Solutions; Ann Marie Paquette; and Benoit Guertin.

Following extensive consultations with internal CRA clients, industry representatives, and other stakeholders, the ITPSSC project team designed, built and implemented a $500M multi-year contracting mechanism enabling the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to acquire IT professional services in a more timely, compliant, and cost-effective manner – the largest single procurement project undertaken by the CRA since it became an agency in 1999. Now in operation for a year, the new ITPSSC automated supply chain requisitioning process has reduced administrative costs, made acquiring resources for time sensitive projects more efficient and reduced the average per diem rates paid by CRA by over 20 percent.

Materiel Management Recognition Award – Individual

Awarded to: Keith Cowan, PWGSC

Keith Cowan has been with Public Works and Government Services Canada since 1989. From that time to today, he has been manager of the Crown Assets Distribution Centre (CADC), Western Region – the three prairie provinces. Today Keith manages both supply operations (commercial goods/services, professional services, architect and engineering) and construction requirements in two offices and CADC Western Region. His leadership efforts mean that operational requirements are always met and clients both receive and appreciate excellent service. Keith actively encourages his staff to develop their knowledge and expertise in procurement. In addition to his training/communication activities with his staff, he has contributed to Treasury Board Secretariat’s professional development and certification program. On the personal front, Keith is also a member of the board of directors the Regina Guild of Folk Arts (produces the Folk Festival) and, as a volunteer for over 20 years, has held various positions including president and treasurer and more recently the position of on-site finance co-coordinator.

Award of Recognition for Excellence in Service as a Materiel Manager

This “un-sung hero” award is sponsored by Summit Magazine.

Awarded to: Donald C. Smith, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Chief, Contracting Services for the Maritime Region, Don Smith, of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, has over 15 years of experience in materiel management. He is a real team leader, an able negotiator and a life long learner who has demonstrated solid organizational awareness throughout his career. He put his skills this to the test in his work with the Centre of Expertise in Procurement initiative at Fisheries and Oceans, where he has formed or forged relationships with other regions, across the entire department and with private sector organizations in the supply community.

Materiel Management Institute Board of Directors, 2005-2006
  • President
    Jacques LaBonté, Public Works and Government Services Canada
  • Vice President
    Robert Myers, Canadian Heritage
  • Treasurer
    David Swift, RFP Solutions
  • Corporate Secretary & Regional Director – SK, NWT, YK & NU
    Lucille Chase, Public Works and Government Services Canada
  • Past President
    Steve Johnston, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
  • Chair, Member Services
    Colleen Post, Treasury Board of Canada, Secretariat
  • Regional Director - NB
    Mark Taylor,Natural Resources Canada
  • Regional Director - BC
    Lawrie Huck, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Director
    Micheline Brunette, Treasury Board of Canada, Secretariat
  • Regional Director - NS
    Rhona Sullivan, Parks Canada Agency
  • Director
    Roger Houde, Canada Revenue Agency
  • Director
    Elène Fromanger, Public Works and Government Services Canada
  • Executive Director
    Kathy Jones, Materiel Management Institute
  • Director
    Geoff Mace, Algonquin College
  • Executive Assistant
    Sue Ryan, Materiel Management Institute

CITT upholds DND contract for health services

Calian Technologies has the nearly $450 million contract to provide the Department of National Defence (DND) with medical personnel. Med-Emerg, a Toronto-area company, had formerly held the contract, and had taken a challenge of the award of the contract to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) and also launched civil action. The CITT has upheld the award to Calian saying Calian met the mandatory criteria in the request for proposal.

GIS systems: the right information at the right time in the right place

Yet another public sector organization is realizing the benefits of modernizing its land management systems. The 20 percent growth in population of Goochland County, Virginia, located on the western edge of the Richmond metropolitan area, had stressed the county’s antiquated geographic information system (GIS) system of land records management, making it difficult to manage efficiently both internal work processes and continued county growth. The county went looking for an up-to-date solution and, in the spring of 2005, selected NovaLIS Technologies (www.novalistech.com) and business partner Timmons Group (www.timmons.com) to design and implement a customized version of the NovaLIS Land Development Office™, which, according to the news release “combines GIS, document imaging, workflow management, parcel and application cloning, Internet browser connectivity, and relational database technology in one complete and totally integrated package.” According to Qiana Foote, Goochland County’s GIS coordinator, “with Land Development Office, the GIS information will be accessible throughout the county departments and the workflow will ensure that the right hand knows what the left is doing.” The entire system will be installed and integrated with other county systems.

Lunenburg Marine Museum takes charge of Bluenose II

On June 14, 2005, the province of Nova Scotia and the Lunenburg Marine Museum Society signed a new five-year operating contract for the Bluenose II, the well-known and beloved schooner that not only acts as Nova Scotia’s travelling ambassador, visiting seas and ports of Canada’s eastern shores and elsewhere, but also is displayed on our $0.10 coin. Lunenburg is the home port and base of operations for the Bluenose II.

The new contract clearly defines the responsibilities of the society and the province in the operations of Bluenose II. The society, which took over operations of the Bluenose II on April 1, 2005 and prepared it for this year's sailing season, will develop an annual operating budget and operating plan while the province will provide $650,000 a year to the society.

Telesat enables high-speed broadband everywhere

Millions of Canadians do not have access to DSL or cable, particularly consumers in rural, remote and First Nations communities across Canada. Telesat’s Anik F2 satellite is the first in the world to commercialize the Ka-band frequency. Using Telesat’s Ka-band technology enables Xplornet (www.xplornet.com), a brand of Barrett Xplore, to deliver always-on, always-ready high-speed Internet connectivity everywhere in Canada, starting July 2005. Service packages deliver burstable speeds 5-75 times faster than dial-up.

Dealing with nuclear waste

Ontario nuclear plants are being fired up again as coal-fired plants are being shut down. In fact, the Ontario government is currently reviewing a tentative deal with Bruce Power for the refurbishment of two laid-up nuclear reactors, which together represent more than 1,500 megawatts of additional capacity.

Much as I and other Canadians want cleaner air and to help reduce global warming, I must confess that I have been worried about how the nuclear waste would be handled – after all, I understand that it is dangerous and remains so for a long, long time. Plus it requires a fair amount of physical space and special facilities and protection while it is being stored.

I mentioned my concerns to a friend and shortly after that I was called by Steve Coupland from the Canadian Nuclear Association. Coupland was kind enough to give me sense of the volume of nuclear waste that could be created and explained how it is handled and protected. Here is what he had to say.

Currently every bundle of nuclear waste is monitored nationally and internationally. After 25 years of operations, the total amount of nuclear waste produced by 22 plants would fill the ground space of 3-4 hockey rinks. The used fuel is kept in cooling containers (pools) for 20 years and then is moved to dry storage in containers that are 8 feet by 8 feet around composed of steel and concrete. They weigh 72 tons empty – not something that could easily be stolen. The fuel is vacuum sealed in these for 50 years. The warehouse is secure and constantly monitored. In about 400-500 years, the fuel could be handled by people without wearing protective gear. That is a very long time and the debate is on about where the used fuel will be stored for this period. Deep disposal (in a deep mine shaft, perhaps under the Canadian shield somewhere) seems the preferred option but not many Canadians are comfortable yet with this happening in their own back yards.

The website, www.can.ca, of the Canadian Nuclear Association provides a lot more information about the nuclear industry in Canada and why nuclear energy is being looked upon as a “green” energy source. –Anne Phillips

One fare card to link transit systems in and around Toronto

The Ontario government, GO Transit, and representatives from Brampton, Burlington, Hamilton, Mississauga, Oakville, Toronto and York Region signed an agreement on June 15, 2005 to jointly develop an integrated fare collection system. The transit fare card, which will be introduced in early 2007, will link Mississauga, GO Transit, and Union Station. The system is expected to be fully operational from Hamilton on the west side of Toronto to Whitby on the east side by 2010. It is hoped that having one transit card will increase the use of public transit. In addition, in other parts of the world such as Hong Kong, the transit cards are also useable at parking facilities, fast food outlets and vending machines.

New emergency air monitoring vehicle developed by Alberta government and firefighters

Good and timely data on air quality is key to assessing and managing emergency responses. Alberta Environment's Mobile Air Monitoring Lab was being sent to emergency sites when requested, but it was never designed as an emergency response vehicle. Alberta Environment, with its expertise in monitoring and understanding air quality, and Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, with its emergency response expertise, began developing the new $600,000 emergency response air-monitoring vehicle in 2002. The two partners contributed equally to the development costs. Specially trained Edmonton firefighters will operate and maintain the emergency air-monitoring vehicle. Environment staff will assist in calibrating the on-board equipment and train fire rescue staff in its use.

The new vehicle has the ability to take air quality samples and analyze them on-site so that firefighters can obtain timely and accurate test results. It is equipped with lights and sirens so that it can quickly respond to emergencies where air quality needs to be assessed or monitored.

Alberta project researches the best way to deliver services

It seems logical that coordinating programs/services intended for a common client would bring both efficiencies and cost savings. Well, the Alberta government, the City of Edmonton and researchers from the University of Alberta are going to test that logic. They are beginning a long-term, $10 million research project – Families First Edmonton (based on a similar research project in Ontario) – to measure and assess whether delivering health, family support and recreation services in a coordinated way can offer better outcomes for low-income Alberta families, and the project will determine the most cost-effective and efficient use of resources.

For two and a half years researchers will study 1,200 families who volunteer to participate in the project. The families will then be further monitored for another three years to determine the long-term impacts.

According to the press release, “[Alberta], the City of Edmonton and community agencies such as the Edmonton Community Foundation, the Stollery Charitable Foundation and the United Way of the Capital Region have committed almost $6.4 million in funding to provide the families with services. The University of Alberta secured an additional $3.6 million from the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research to fund the research component of the project. In total more than a dozen partners are involved in this project.

The Alberta government and the City of Edmonton’s Community Services are co-chairing the project, with research coordinated by the University of Alberta’s Community-University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth and Families (CUP). A request for proposals has also been released as part of the process to select the community agency that will oversee the day-to-day operations of the project.

Partners underpin Ontario health agency

Ontario’s Smart Systems for Health Agency’s (SSHA) secure private network allows SSHA to provide services such as round-the-clock application hosting, telecom services, portal hosting, electronic health records, email and registration to healthcare professionals. In partnership with NORTH Network (an alliance of seven hospitals in north eastern Ontario that share pertinent data), CareConnect, and Videocare, SSHA also facilitates video conferencing between patients and doctors who may be located miles from each other.

SSHA went looking for vendors to deal with the task of connecting over 20,000 hospitals, doctors’ offices, pharmacies and long-term care facilities across Ontario. Security is high on the list of key concerns, as is systems integration. When, it became clear that no single vendor would be able to provide all of the requirements, SSHA had the difficult job of convincing vendors to partner with each other to meet the project requirements and find the right solution. They did and now SSHA partners include EMC (storage area networks), StorageTek (tape backups), Microsoft Exchange (e-mail messaging), Dell (mail servers), Cisco (catalyst switch technology), Allstream (public key infrastructure) and HP (secure data centre location).

Alberta focusses on improving government operations

In November 2004, when announcing the new Ministry of Restructuring and Government Efficiency (RGE) headed by Minister Luke Ouellette, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein said, the new ministry “will help government to focus on its most-important job, which is providing programs and services to Albertans effectively and efficiently. The job is not about reductions or cutbacks. It’s about improving and simplifying, as much as possible, the organization of government.”

RGE, which includes responsibility for the Alberta Corporate Service Centre (previously under Government Services) and the Corporate Chief Information Officer (formerly with Innovation and Science), outlined its core businesses, goals, strategies and performance measures in its 2005-08 Business Plan, released April 13, 2005. The plan, outlining the major goals, strategies and outcomes, can be found at www.finance.gov.ab.ca/publications/budget/budget2005/restruct.html. Without a doubt there will be many procurement opportunities associated with the restructuring.

Toronto program works to reduce water usage

The City of Toronto wants to reduce water use in the city by 15 percent by 2011. Under its new ICI WaterSaver Program (www.toronto.ca/water), Toronto is providing a monetary incentive to the industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) sectors for demonstrated water savings. Prior to launching the ICI WaterSaver Program, Toronto conducted a pilot with two voluntary facilities – Redpath Sugars and Upper Canada College, which together reduced water use by 300,000 litres per day. Water savings achieved under the program helps Toronto Water avoid costly infrastructure expansion by buying back the water or sewer capacity freed up by those who have reduced water usage in their operations.

Under the ICI WaterSaver Program, city staff works collaboratively with businesses to identify areas of water being 'wasted' and offers solutions that will permanently reduce water use and wastewater discharge. Toronto provides a one-time financial incentive of 30 cents per litre per day to businesses that make permanent and measurable water reducing changes to their operations.

The Fairmont Royal York is the first commercial property tap into the program. It has received $48,685.00 for its efforts to reduce water use in its laundry facility. Following consultations with city staff, the hotel installed a commercial water softener that reduced water usage from 676,000 litres of water daily to 200,000 litres of water per day (enough to supply 500 homes). The rebate from the city covers the cost of the water softener.

Prince George takes a stand against the mountain pine beetle

Canadians are watching the death of the beautiful mature forests of British Columbia and those spreading into Alberta. The mountain pine beetle is attacking great stands of mature (at least 20-years old) lodgepole pine, eventually killing the trees, leaving scars of red, tinder dry wood behind. According to the Council of Forest Industries, as of fall 2004, they are estimated to have affected 283.5 million m³ of timber, an area roughly the size of Sweden. The only natural enemy of the beetles is cold weather (a minimum two-week spell of -40 degrees) but with warmer winter weather more common in past years, there appears to be no end in sight to this plague. (Visit www.for.gov.bc.ca/hre/bcmpb for more information on the outbreak.)

Mountain pine beetles utilize chemical messages, called pheromones to communicate attack sites to other beetles. Similarly, as beetle densities build up within a stand, a repellant pheromone is released to send the message that the stand has no more potential attack sites. The beetles then fly to other receptive stands of trees.

Prince George, at the heart of the BC forestry sector, is deeply affected by the beetle infestation. Under BC’s new Integrated Pest Management Act (2005) and federal legislation, staff from the city worked with the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, Integrated Pest Management Unit to find a way to protect the trees that remain healthy. In partnership with UNBC, Prince George will conduct a research trial within the city using the anti-aggregation pheromone Verbenone (not yet been licensed in Canada but registered for use and sale in the United States) in an attempt to prevent mountain pine beetles from attacking healthy pine trees. The project will ask residents to utilize this pheromone in an attempt to reduce the number of trees that are attacked during this year’s beetle flight. The cost to property owners will be minimal, and will be used to offset the purchase of the product by the city. Phero Tech, Inc. based in Delta, BC, is experienced in conducting research trials using Verbenone and has been chosen as the supplier of the product. More information on the project can be found at www.city.pg.bc.ca/rec_culture/parks/urbanforestry.

FCM elects new president

In June at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) annual conference, this year held in St. John,s, Newfoundland, Mayor Michael Coleman of Duncan, B.C., was acclaimed as the new President. Coleman, formerly first vice-president, has been an active member of the organization for several years, particularly with FCM’s international programs. After serving three terms as a councilor in Duncan, he was elected mayor in 1979 and has been re-elected ever since.

Calgary builds award winning environmentally sound buildings

The City of Calgary’s design and development of The Cardel Place and Calgary Public Library Facility achieved a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED-NC) Gold rating from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) – the first such designation for the Province of Alberta and the City of Calgary. In 2002, Calgary was the first Canadian municipality to mandate that new city facilities attain a minimum LEED Silver rating. USGBC is America’s foremost coalition of builders promoting environmental stewardship and LEED is an international tool used to gauge the environmental performance of buildings in five areas, including sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.

The Cardel Place and Calgary Public Library Facility incorporated a number of innovations including an environmentally efficient site, building and road designs as well as a storm water retention pond. The building consumes 30 percent less energy than expected by the Canadian Model National Energy Code for building and considerably more than that for similar building types.

A new water centre is under construction in Calgary that will also meet at least the silver LEED standard. According to the news release, the design has been developed to “create a minimal impact on the environment by using less energy, minimizing water use, using recycled materials wherever possible, creating less waste, and providing a healthy environment for city employees and the visiting public. Various environmental elements will be incorporated into the building including the use of natural light, operable windows to allow fresh air into the building, waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, the recovery of water from the rooftop for irrigation use, and natural landscaping.”

Alberta correctional staff get stab resistant vests

On the recommendation of a joint union/management committee, all 1,100 correctional officers and correctional service workers in Alberta jails and remand centres will be outfitted with stab resistant protective vests by the fall of this year at an estimated cost of $650,000. Prior to the recommendation, the committee examined what other Canadian jurisdictions are doing, what protective vests are available and also evaluated whether the vests would meet the needs of the province’s frontline correctional staff. The committee also recommended the style and type of vest to be used in drafting the specifications for the public tender to purchase the body armour.

Vancouver 2010 provides opportunities, training and promotion

In mid-May 2005, the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) issued a request for Expressions of Interest (EOI) and Statements of Qualifications to potential licensee(s) for the sale and distribution of lapel pins bearing marks associated with VANOC, the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and/or the Canadian Olympic Committee.

This was VANOC’s first step into the area of officially licensed 2010-related merchandise since Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) was granted a licence to produce merchandise using various VANOC Marks earlier in 2005. VANOC expects to be issuing various requests for EOI regarding the licensing of many other products in the near future.

To help companies prepare to submit an EOI, the sample of the EOI for the lapel pin licence is available at www.2010CommerceCentre.com as well as information regarding the application review process, notification, RFP process and security requirements.

In addition to bidding on the EOI opportunities themselves, companies can become involved in the 2010 Games by becoming a supplier to official licensees. Companies can sign up to receive free online notification of procurement opportunities that match their business profile. During the planning stage of the Games, VANOC will spend almost $2 billion on goods and services.

The 2010 Commerce Centre was established in spring 2004 to help companies develop Olympic-related business strategies and pursue new partnerships before, during and after the 2010 Games. The website portal was established first with a permanent storefront centre due to open in 2006, which in addition to other functions, will also promote BC products and services through trade shows and will facilitate business connections related to the Games with national and international companies. Regional business development workshops are being held across the province to introduce BC businesses to requirements of the procurement process and opportunities presented by the 2010 Games... and, as the story below illustrates, size isn’t always the key to being successful in the bidding process.

Small Company, Big Contract (as published on the 2010 Commerce Centre website)

The words were buried deep in the pages of the guidelines, but Sharon Wyse Boileau knew they would give her proposal the edge she was hoping for.

Social responsibility. Environmental stewardship. Sustainability. “They were in Appendix C, a very light reference to a commitment to sustainability,” said Wyse Boileau, director of business development and marketing for Mills Basics. “I knew we had what they were looking for.” Boileau wanted to win the contract to provide office supplies for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games (VANOC), but she knew her company would be competing against huge corporations with millions behind them.

Mills Basics is a private, family-owned business in east Vancouver. It was founded in 1949 by Don Mills, who was 19 years old at the time, in the basement of his parent’s house in Kitsilano. The company now has 70 full-time employees at its warehouse and print shop on Clark Drive, and Mills’ son, Brad Mills, is the CEO. The company is also part of a consortium of independent office supply companies across the country, called Basic Office Products, which gives the smaller operations the purchasing power of the office-supply giants such as the U.S. Staples chain.

Mills Basics, Wyse Boileau says with a clear sense of pride, is 100-percent BC-owned and operated. When she learned about the request for proposals for office supplies, Wyse Boileau jumped into action. The company had one month – and one chance – to develop a winning proposal."

The first question was, can we live up to the expectations of an event like this. We have experience with sports, and have worked with the Greater Vancouver Open, the Canucks and the Grizzlies. And we are experts in office supplies, so we were very comfortable responding to the proposal," she said.

There was also no question the company could offer proof of its commitment to the community. "Corporate social responsibility and social value are all words we live by," she said. "The community is where Mills Basics leads. We don't have the big dollars of the large corporations, but we do have an environmentally friendly office, warehouse and print shop and we try to help the community move forward environmentally, economically and socially."

Mills Basics is part of Vancouver's Fast Tracks to Employment, an employment program in the city's Downtown Eastside that assists unemployed and under-employed residents find jobs. The company has hired and trained youth at risk, the hard to employ, and recovering addicts, offering mentorships and health benefits to help them enter the workforce. So far, they have hired eight people, but Wyse Boileau says it's not enough. "We'd like to triple that number in the next 12 months."

The company is also a founding member of the Vancouver Social Purchasing Portal, a web-based service for business-to-business transactions between companies that value social responsibility and community development. Although it was important to highlight the company's credentials and expertise in office supplies, Wyse Boileau wanted to focus the proposal on what VANOC -- the customer -- needed from Mills Basics.

"We can all pick, pack and wrap," she said. "It may not be as fancy as others, but it's the same work. We looked at what they needed, what they explicitly said they wanted and also what they didn't say but could be read between the lines.

The result was that Mills Basics was the only small company on the short list for the office supplies bid, and then the winner of the contract. "We're a little tiny company, and we were competing against corporations with hundreds of employees, huge U.S. and European companies with billions behind them. Then you've got us -- a $10-million operation," Wyse Boileau said. "This was validation that small, independent, Canadian, family-owned companies can provide services to one of the most exciting events in the country. It makes us extremely proud." And if we can do it, so can others."

Wyse Boileau has a few suggestions to offer others who are making proposals for contracts for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games. First, do some research. Talk to people in the organization and suppliers who are already working with VANOC. Then, consider your proposal from the customer's perspective rather than from your business's point of view. And, remember read the fine print.

"Look beyond what they're asking for and really try to understand the key corporate objectives," she said. "What do they say they want, and what else do they want but aren't saying."

Mills Basics has already developed standard office supply kits for new employees that can be pulled together and delivered daily as the committee hires staff. The company is also planning a trip to Salt Lake City to talk to the suppliers involved with the 2002 Winter Games to find out what worked and what could have been done better. And even though it is nearly five years in the future, Wyse Boileau is already thinking about 2010 and how to set up temporary supply stores and keep the shelves stocked to meet hundreds of different daily needs during the games.

"We've got a lot of work to do to make sure we're as ahead of the customer as possible," Wyse Boileau said. "Our work is just starting. We have to make sure we have the systems and capabilities in place to meet their needs. Everything should be seamless. "We are just so excited."

New lab in Montreal supports polymer research and commercialization

The Polynov Laboratory was officially opened in February of this year, representing the first commercial-scale unit of the Centre de recherche en plastique et composites (CREPEC), a group formed in 2004 that brought together Quebec’s foremost university and industry researchers in the field of polymers. The lab is located in Montreal’s Anjou Industrial Park and is part of the École Polytechnique de Montréal, one of Canada’s leading engineering institutions affiliated with University of Montreal.

Polynov includes 40 machines of all kinds providing an integrated process based on flat-fibre technology, and its sheet coextrusion line meets the standard of any multinational corporate R&D center. Polynov will provide companies in the plastics industry with the equipment and expertise needed to conduct preliminary feasibility trials on new products or processes, something that would normally be too costly and too difficult for most of these small and medium-sized enterprises. The use of the lab’s commercial-scale equipment will also help minimize any problems associated with moving into industrial production.

The lab project was largely funded (more than $10 million) by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) – an independent corporation created in 1997 by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure – and the Quebec Education Ministry. They each invested $3.75 million. Private-sector partners included Crompton Davis-Standard from Connecticut (main equipment supplier to Polynov) and the Lavergne Group, which donated the space housing the lab.


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