In the News Archive
February 2006

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Albertans get new schools, healthcare centres and post-secondary school buildings

During 2005 in the province of Alberta, 18 major school projects were completed and opened - including 14 new schools - at a cost of $120 million. Work was also completed on seven healthcare facilities, worth $52 million, and two post-secondary institution projects, to which government committed $10 million. In addition, the newly renovated Northern and Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditoria opened in August at a cost of $73 million.

Major facilities that opened this year include the new Centennial High School in Calgary, the renovated Health Science Building at the University of Calgary, and the new Dianne and Irving Kipnes Centre for Veterans in Edmonton.

In addition to the major capital projects completed this year, 46 more are under construction and another 91 are being designed and tendered.

The 46 projects under construction include:

  • 22 new schools and major school renovation projects, at a cost of $173 million;
  • 11 major post-secondary projects, with a government investment of $361 million; and
  • 13 healthcare projects, worth $1.1 billion.

The 91 projects being designed and tendered include:

  • 47 new schools and major school renovation projects, at a cost of $389 million;
  • 36 major post-secondary projects, with a government investment of $287 million; and
  • 8 healthcare projects, worth $1.4 billion.

Other major government-owned construction projects include the Edmonton Level III Biocontainment Lab, the Leduc Agrivalue Business Incubator Centre, and the Calgary Courts facility.

Partnership will restore historic building at Red Deer’s Michener Centre

Red Deer’s historic Michener Centre was gutted by fire following a lightening strike in June 2003. After concluding there were no government programming requirements for the building, the Province of Alberta issued a request for proposals for other uses for the building.

Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation has accepted an $11.3 million proposal from the David Thompson Health Region to historically reconstruct, expand and eventually take ownership of the south administration building at the Michener Centre in Red Deer, consolidating the health region’s administrative functions under one roof, reducing the Health Region’s leasing costs and freeing up space at the regional hospital for clinical and programming needs.

The government will contribute $4.7 million in cash and $3.6 million in insurance proceeds, and will transfer a 13.2 acre parcel of land to accommodate the historical refurbishment and expansion of the former south administration building. The health region will contribute $3 million.

Space in the Red Deer provincial building currently occupied by the health region will be returned to the province and allocated to government departments in need of office space.

Green power now available in Ottawa

Responding to a surge in interest, Bullfrog Power, a Toronto-based marketer of power generated from wind farms and environmentally-friendly hydro developments, has opened operations in Ottawa. The “green” electricity is priced at 8.3 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to regular rates of 5 to 5.3 cents, which for an average residential customer spends about a dollar a day. No special setup or wiring is required. Bullfrog also sells “green credits” to businesses which don't have their own electric meter or pay for their power through their property leases. The credits can then be sold or traded.

New cogeneration plant for Toronto’s Pearson Airport

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) announced in early December 2005 the opening of its new Cogeneration Plant, the first of its kind at an airport in Canada. The natural gas fueled cogeneration plant will ensure the uninterrupted flow of electrical power to Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The plant provides many operational benefits, including both the establishment of defined energy costs, as well as the self sustainability that comes from proprietary power.

Cogeneration, the production of electrical power and thermal energy at the same time from the same energy source, has many positive environmental implications, both with its inherent efficiency as well as its use of natural gas as fuel.

The cogeneration plant is capable of producing approximately 117 megawatts of power in total. Operation follows these steps:

  • Natural gas fuels two General Electric LM6000 PD gas turbines in the cogeneration plant, each producing around 42 megawatts of power.
  • The exhaust from these is used to operate once-through steam generators, which will in turn feed a steam-driven generator, capable of producing some 33 megawatts of power.
  • The remaining excess heat from the plant is used to heat and cool the airport buildings through the central utilities distribution system.

Currently Pearson airport’s peak electrical demand is about 38 megawatts of electricity. This is expected to peak at 65 to 70 megawatts in 2015. The surplus electricity produced by the cogeneration plant that is not required to operate the airport is being sold back into Ontario’s power grid, via the Clean Energy Supply contract between the GTAA and the Ontario Power Authority. In addition to its environmental benefits, the plant will help the province to enhance the electricity supply in the Greater Toronto area. For more information contact Connie Turner at 416-766-3709.

Regina wins recognition for reducing greenhouse gas emissions

For its leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in late December 2005, the City of Regina received international recognition from the Climate Group, a non-profit organization launched in April 2004 by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. (www.theclimategroup.org)

To date, the City of Regina’s corporate emissions have been reduced by 12 percent through a series of operational improvements including converting streetlights to high pressure sodium vapour; converting the vehicle fleet from gasoline to compressed natural gas; improving the efficiency of the water supply system; improving sewage treatment efficiency and; energy efficiency measures within corporate buildings.

The city has also implemented other energy saving initiatives:

  • In 2005, the City of Regina Transit Department added nine energy efficient Nova buses to its transit fleet.
  • An energy efficient hybrid vehicle is now being used in the automatic water meter reading program.
  • Regina was one of the first communities to create a climate change public education and outreach program - Cool Down the City’ - to encourage greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions throughout the community focusing on residential, transportation, and industrial/commercial/institutional GHG reductions.
  • Regina created the Green Ribbon Community Climate Change Advisory Committee as a formal committee of council made up of important stakeholders in the community, including representatives from the energy sector, school boards, the provincial government, the university, environmental groups, and consultants.
  • In 2004, Regina became a One Tonne Challenge community.
  • The City has also established a program to avoid expensive expansion of the city’s water infrastructure, and to reduce GHG emissions from water use. The program has successfully reduced GHG emissions from electricity used in water treatment by more than 1,700 tonnes per year, saving $600,000.
  • Regina, in conjunction with a number of other leaders in the community, is working to create a framework that will enable Regina to become a sustainable community over the next 100 years.

For more information on the City of Regina’s energy programs, contact Kim Sare at 306-777-7000.

Alberta supports Medicine Hat housing for seniors and persons with disabilities

Alberta has committed over $2.5 million to help develop 40 supportive living units for seniors and persons with disabilities in Medicine Hat.

This investment is part of one-time capital grant funding announced in November. Rural Albertans will benefit significantly from $140 million in funding that will support the development or upgrades of approximately 4,200 units for supportive living, affordable housing and seniors housing units. The funding helps address issues identified by the MLA Task Force on Continuing Care and will help reduce pressures on Alberta's long-term care facilities. For more information contact Robert Storrier, Alberta Seniors and Community Supports at (780) 415-9950.

SaskPower to partner with independent power producers

As of late December 2005, completed project proposals had been submitted for the second and final phase of SaskPower’s Environmentally Preferred Power program (EPP). As with the first phase, a detailed evaluation and selection process now begins to select one or more projects that best meet the criteria.

The EPP program was designed to provide the opportunity for SaskPower to partner with independent power producers to build and operate environmentally low-impact generation projects to help SaskPower provide for growing customer demand to the year 2010. The EPP solicitation is targeted at smaller power projects that either use waste streams as a fuel source or use proven technologies that produce no new emissions.

In the second phase of the EPP Program, a total of 17 project proposals were submitted by 11 proponents totaling just over 241 MW of potential electrical generation. A brief description of all of the project proposals submitted can be found on the SaskPower website at: www.saskpower.com.

An independent auditor will review the final selection process. Once the projects are chosen, the successful proponents will meet with SaskPower to negotiate a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) that will lay out the specific contractual requirements for both parties. The PPAs are expected to be completed and signed by the end of 2006.

In September 2003, SaskPower issued its first expression of interest for innovative and viable environmentally preferred electrical power generation projects between 25 kilowatts and 5 MW in size. Eligible technologies included flare gas, wind, low-impact hydro, biomass, biogas, heat recovery from an existing waste heat source and solar. For the second phase, the size limit for eligible projects was increased to 25 MW, largely due to feedback from proponents who were responding to projected economies of scale to be gained from slightly larger projects.

The environmentally preferred power program is an important part of the government's Green Power Portfolio strategy. The Green Power Portfolio includes the Cypress Wind Power Facility, SaskPower International's 150-megawatt Centennial Wind Power Facility, and community energy efficiency pilot projects. For more information contact Larry Christie, SaskPower at (306) 566-3167.

Yukon first to offer BizPal service

Business Permits and Licences (BizPaL), a pilot-project for online business information services (see “BizPal cuts red tape,” Summit June 2005 at www.summitconnects.com) was publicly launched in Whitehorse. The Yukon is first to go live with this cutting-edge information network.

BizPaL is a Web-based service that will allow business clients and investors to easily generate a customized list of all government permits and licences needed to start up a business enterprise anywhere in the Yukon and in many cases the forms are downloadable from the website.

The BizPaL system in the Yukon was developed with Industry Canada's support and leading role, in collaboration with City of Kamloops, Province of British Columbia; Region of Halton, Province of Ontario; the Yukon government and the City of Whitehorse. Local participation included the Village of Teslin, the Town of Watson Lake, the Town of Faro, the Village of Carmacks, the Village of Mayo, the City of Dawson and the Town of Haines Junction.

The BizPaL service is available by visiting www.bizpal.ca and www.bizpal.gov.yk.ca and www.city.whitehorse.yk.ca site. For more information contact Doug Caldwell, Communications, Community Services, at (867) 667-8065.

Ontario acquires site of Upper Canada’s First Parliament

In late December 2005, the Ontario government, in partnership with the City of Toronto and with the strong support of local heritage groups, announced that it has acquired a significant part of the site of Upper Canada's First Parliament.

The province and a private landowner have agreed to a land exchange to secure a portion of the historic First Parliament site at 265 Front Street East in downtown Toronto. The Ontario Heritage Trust (formerly the Ontario Heritage Foundation) has assumed ownership of this portion of the site. The trust will work with stakeholders including the federal and Ontario governments, the City of Toronto and community groups to develop options and strategies for the long-term preservation of the site.

Artifacts, now lying underground, mark the site of Ontario’s first parliament buildings. The brick buildings built specifically for the legislative assembly in the late 18th century were burnt to the ground by invading American troops during the War of 1812.

Wind energy firm supports municipal alternative energy development

Cartier Wind Energy announced late in December 2005 that it has signed agreements with the municipalities of Baie-des-Sables and Métis-sur-Mer. More than $2,400,000 will be provided to Baie-des-Sables municipality and $478,000 to Métis-sur-Mer municipality over the operation period. The agreements were signed during an official ceremony showing Cartier's commitment towards its projects’ host communities.

The agreements defined the voluntary contributions that Cartier will provide to each municipality during the 20-year operation of Baie-des-Sables wind energy project. The funds will be allocated based on installed capacity in each municipality. Cartier will provide $1,000 per installed megawatt (MW) as of the beginning of the construction of the wind farm and an annual contribution of $1,000 per installed MW during the operation of the wind farm. The municipalities are free to use the funds at their discretion. In addition, Cartier will invest $30,000 annually into a fund to help local non-profit organizations. The agreements also include the creation of a committee that will monitor local economic spin-offs during the construction and operation of the wind farm.

Cartier Wind Energy expects to receive environmental permits for the Baie-des-Sables wind farm in early 2006, with construction work expected to commence in spring 2006.

Cartier Wind Energy, headquartered in Longueuil, is a partnership of TransCanada Corporation and Innergex II (info@ingergex.com), a fund that also has its head office in Longueuil. Cartier Wind Energy won 740 MW in wind energy projects in Hydro-Québec’s first wind energy call for tenders for projects that will be developed from 2006 to 2012. Cartier Wind Energy’s projects represent an investment of more than $1.1 billion. For more information contact Gilles Lefrançois, Chairman of the Board, Cartier Wind Energy at (450) 928-2550, ext. 243.

Web conferencing comes to rural BC schools

British Columbia is partnering with BCEd Online to provide 91 schools with $230,000 in Web-conferencing tools to improve access and learning opportunities for rural students. Schools will be provided with the technology and training to use Web conferencing to deliver the courses through BCEd Online, an e-learning consortium that includes public school districts and independent schools with a primary focus to increase access and choice for students regardless of where they live.

The province and BCEd Online are now working to provide all urban schools with Web-conferencing tools for the 2006-07 school year. The province has also provided an additional $1.35 million for distributed learning programs in BC’s nine distance education schools. These funds will help the districts provide higher service levels, more resources and greater teacher interaction with distance learners.

Yukon builds a mobile communications solution

In mid-December, the Government of Yukon announced the successful service provider from its recent competitive proposal process for the cellular component of its mobile communications solution (MoCS). A company jointly owned between Northwestel Inc. and Dakwakada Development Corporation will begin implementing enhanced cellular coverage to 17 Yukon communities commencing in 2006.

The Northwestel-Dakwakada team, as owner of the new cell system, will have the obligation to operate, maintain and improve this system over a 12-year service agreement as outlined in government's requirements for the cellular system. Dakwakada Development Corporation (DDC) is the business arm of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN).

This contract award addresses the cellular component of the MoCS project only. A public request for proposals will be issued to address the equipment required for the mobile radio system component of the MoCS project, which will be used by the RCMP, health and safety professionals, public safety volunteer organizations and other government personnel. The radio component of the Mobile Communications Solution (MoCS) project will replace the existing Multi-Departmental Mobile Radio System (MDMRS).

The Yukon government and Northwestel have begun discussions focusing on the use of Northwestel's existing telecommunications infrastructure and support services. Northwestel and the government have jointly initiated a competitive procurement process for supplying radio equipment needed to operate the new mobile radio system. For more information on the competitive procurement process, see www.nwtel.ca/mobileradio or contact Darren Butt, Communications, Highways & Public Works at (867) 667-3591.

Nanaimo installs emergency generator

The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) installed a new emergency generator and transfer switch – crucial to the city’s emergency plan - that will power the entire administrative offices during routine power outages, as well as power the emergency coordination center should it require activation when hydro service is down. This 200 kilowatt diesel-powered generator can run continuously for 1,000 hours if required. RDN staff received on-site training and conducted a first test of the generator on December 5, 2005.

The RDN’s emergency program includes emergency coordination centre training for RDN staff and directors, emergency planning exercises, cooperative agreements with first responders and public education. RDN has emergency reception centers throughout its jurisdiction, with a strong base of dedicated emergency social service volunteers.

Local governments are required to have emergency plans, and the effectiveness of these plans is enhanced by building community awareness and preparedness. The RDN encourages residents to prepare Grab’n’Go bags for each household member, assemble an emergency supply kit (check www.pep.bc.ca for a comprehensive list), establish a home evacuation and reunification plan, and start or participate in neighbourhood emergency preparedness programs. For more information contact Jani Thomas, Protective Services Coordinator, Regional District of Nanaimo at (250) 390-4111.

US Homeland Security launches integration project with Canadian firm

The US Department of State has selected cryptography specialist WinMagic Inc. of Mississauga, Ontario, to work on a pilot project for the Department of Homeland Security along with Entrust, Precise Biometrics (Lund, Sweden), SafeNet and VMware.

The pilot project is focused on integrating personal identity verification (PIV) cards and biometrics with public key infrastructure (PKI) and disk encryption. Under Presidential Directive 12, published by the White House in August 2004, US federal government employees and contractors must use smart card technology, with a PKI (digital identity) certificate, to gain access to facilities and information systems. The pilot project is being conducted in response to this directive.

Kelowna takes alternate route to design and construction contract

The City of Kelowna has signed a memorandum of understanding with PCL Constructors Westcoast Ltd. regarding design and construction of the Aquatic Centre at Mission Recreation Park. The two parties will now work towards an Early Partnering Agreement and facility design.

Earlier this fall, Kelowna issued a request for proposals (RFP) to four pre-qualified design-build teams. This was to close January 12, 2006 with a recommendation proceeding to Council by the end of February 2006. However all four proponents declined to submit a proposal in response to the RFP, having determined that the cost of preparing proposals and the risks associated with a fixed price contract were unacceptable in the current construction market. The RFP process has therefore ended.

The City investigated various options to advance the project by reducing risks for both the City and the design/build partner. The use of an early partnering agreement has now been chosen. The concept is not new in the industry and has recently been used successfully with other major projects in BC. The Early Partnering Agreement, once signed, will allow the design/build team to begin design work immediately and will lead to a fixed price proposal for completion of the Aquatic Centre.

This approach is fundamentally different from the previous Request for Proposal process in three ways:

  • The City is prepared to accept the costs of design work before a design/build contract is in place;
  • The proponent will make a fixed price proposal only after considerable design work is done, thus allowing more accurate cost estimates for both parties;
  • The City can accept or reject the fixed price proposal based on its own cost analysis and, if rejected, conduct an open RFP process to complete the project.

The City decided conducting a second RFP process would not be beneficial because it could actually reduce the City's chances of securing a well qualified team and it would add several months to the project timeline. The City's analysis has shown PCL to be the best qualified design/build team available at this time and their ability to complete a complex project of this nature is well-proven.

The City has all the capital financing in place with a budget of $32.9 million, including a $5 million grant from the Province of BC Major Regional Sports Facilities Initiative, approximately $20 million in approved borrowing and the remainder from civic reserves.

The Aquatic Centre is expected to feature a 50-metre swimming pool, a large leisure water park and a new fitness centre. The City’s goal is to have the centre fully operational in time for the BC Summer Games which will be held in Kelowna in July, 2008.

New treatment for pig slurry

A breakthrough in the treatment of pig slurry has led to the development of a completely integrated system that has proven to be technically, environmentally and economically viable. It may help to address some of the biggest impediments to swine production within municipalities: odours; contamination to the soil, water table and watercourse; and produce an organic and mineral-based fertilizer for agricultural or horticultural use.

Carrière R. Poudrette invested three million dollars and three years of intensive research and development to develop the technology, which will be marketed under the trade name Lisitech. Carrière R. Poudrette’s team decided to apply its knowledge of quarry operations and mining techniques to design the new process. In addition to ensuring the physical and chemical separation of phosphorous and nitrogen, both of which are highly concentrated in swine manure, the extraction process also treats the solid portion of the slurry transforming the waste into organic and mineral based granular pellets.

The pig slurry is separated into three states:

  1. a thoroughly settled sludge that contains 98 percent phosphorous;
  2. a permeate, i.e. water that is 99.5 percent completely exempt of solid particles and which can be released into the environment or reused in the swine production facilities;
  3. a concentrate, i.e. a liquid fertilizer, composed of nitrogen and potassium for agricultural or horticultural use.

The initial performance of the new system has been granted an authorization permit by the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs du Québec. The first unit is being installed on the premises of a swine producer in the Montérégie region.

Lisitech will be submitted for assessment to the Technology Transfer Working Group, created as part of the Quebec Agro-Environment and Swine Production Framework Plan. Once this assessment has been completed, interested producers will be able to procure Lisitech through a subsidy that will be provided by the Prime-Vert program of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec. For more information contact Annie Gauthier, PRAXIS stratégie-communication at (514) 843-6860, ext. 30.

Kingston contracts for smart meters

In anticipation of new “smart meter” initiatives from the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Utilities Kingston in Kingston, Ontario has contracted with Itron Inc. for its advanced Fixed Network automatic meter reading (AMR) technology and CENTRON® solid-state electricity meters. Kingston provides water, gas and electricity services to most of its 146,000 residents. Itron’s (www.itron.com) open architecture system will allow Kingston to utilize its fibre optic network for backhaul communication from Itron’s network collector units. Having smart meters on electricity, water and gas all on one network promotes efficiency, reduces costs, promotes conservation and happier customers as bills will no longer be based on estimates but on actual data.

Public-private partnership key to new Alberta road

The Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships presented the Alberta government with its Award of Merit for Project Financing for its innovative approach to building the Anthony Henday Drive Southeast. This road is the first in Alberta to be constructed as a public-private partnership (P3) under an agreement between the Alberta government and Access Roads Edmonton Ltd. The Access Roads Edmonton consortium will assume responsibility for the design, construction, financing and operation and maintenance of this leg of Edmonton’s ring road, and will provide a 30-year guarantee. Construction is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2007.

The Canadian Defence Industries Association changes its name

The Canadian Defence Industries Association (CDIA) changed its name on December 6, 2005 to the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI). CDIA was created in 1987 to provide Canadian defence and security companies a voice in their relations with the federal government, their principal customer. CDIA offers information seminars, conferences, trade shows and luncheon speakers so its members can stay abreast of business opportunities. The name change reflects the increasingly integrated nature of national defence and domestic security. It also opens the association to a larger number of companies, those involved in the security sector and already doing business with the federal government. CADSI will encourage the federal government to consider specific economic, trade, technology, industrial and possibly foreign policy objectives that might be achieved through negotiated defence contracts. CADSI wants to make sure that the Canadian defence and security industry is ready to respond to procurement opportunities as they arise, or to play a meaningful value-added role in engineering, product development and world product mandates. To assist in the procurement process CADSI has suggested that the federal government consider retaining an external, independent advisor to supplement internal government expertise on major defence procurements.

Partners launch Halifax community energy project

A joint government project, involving the federal government, the province of Nova Scotia and the City of Halifax, will use natural gas to power a number of buildings in Halifax, bringing a cleaner source of energy to the city and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by about 128,000 tonnes per year in phase one. The proposed system would generate electricity and provide heat and hot water using clean natural gas instead of traditionally used bunker C oil.

The overall cost of implementing the Community Energy System Project is estimated to be $47 million. The province and the government of Canada will each commit up to $20 million. Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s University, the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre’s Victoria General and Halifax Infirmary complexes are all potential anchor customers. The cost-sharing arrangements by the federal, provincial and municipal partners will be established once negotiations with these key anchor customers are concluded and a business plan is finalized.

Public and private partners restore natural habitats

The Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Public Works, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ecology Action Centre, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and a number of local residents and community organizations are working together on two projects to restore 37 hectares (91 acres) of salt marsh in Hants County off the Minas Basin.

These, along with a similar project in New Brunswick, are the first such restorations attempted in the Maritimes. They are attracting national and international interest from groups such as Wildlife Habitat Canada, the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, and the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Both projects will be closely studied during the next five years to document how marshes and adjacent coastal ecosystems evolve.

One project, completed in September, involved opening a dyke on a portion of the Walton River marsh returning a 12-hectare freshwater pond back to its original form as a salt marsh. The other project will restore full tidal flooding to a 30-hectare salt marsh that, for the last half century, has been only a five-hectare salt marsh. Dexter Construction was awarded the $1,075,000 contract for this job with the cost to be split equally between the provincial and federal governments.


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