Ottawa tests smart car in city fleet
In late January 2006, the City of Ottawa’s fleet initiated a pilot project to test the potential of smart cars in the city fleet. The city purchased one smart car at a cost $7,000 less than the last city by-law vehicle purchased. The vehicle’s fuel efficiency rating and record to date indicates that it will save another approximately $1,000 a year in diesel fuel costs, for a lifetime savings of at least $14,000. The vehicle also operates on diesel, which produces less carbon monoxide than gas, thus reducing GHG emissions. According to the release the city will “evaluate operating costs, ergonomics, and the best applications for the car. If the smart car performs well on these fronts and through winter operations, additional ones will be purchased as replacement vehicles for the city’s fleet.
Nova Scotia’s green plan in action
In 2003 the Province of Nova Scotia launched a green plan for the province: Towards a Sustainable Environment. A progress report -- Green Plan: Progress Towards a Sustainable Environment, is available at www.gov.ns.ca/greenweb -- was released in January 2006 that shows that:
- new air quality regulations were adopted with caps that reduced sulphur dioxide emissions and will reduce them more by 2010;
- a green energy framework has been launched to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
- that Nova Scotia has worked with other provinces on a new national standard for mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants;
- a SMART Tourism initiative was launched to focus on the role of sustainable communities in the tourism industry;
- more than 10,000 hectares were designated as new wilderness areas and nature reserves;
- Nova Scotia has passed legislation to make it easier to designate more nature reserves;
- Nova Scotians were consulted on draft regulations to reduce electronic waste;
- implementation of the provincial drinking water strategy was completed; and
- Nova Scotia has adopted an environmental management policy.
Abbotsford water plant showcases new technology
In early January 2006, Abbotsford BC’s Norrish Creek Water Treatment facility was visited by a group of city officials from the Russian city of Khabarovsk. The Abbotsford facility with its unique combination of slow sand and new membrane filtration technology is serving as a perfect example of the type of membrane plant to deal with high turbidity water, like that of the Amur River. The Russian delegate was impressed by the “compact design of the … plant and are most impressed with the clean and neat installation of the ZeeWeed® system.” The addition of membrane technology to the sand filtration, not only produces clear water but the water is treated with 30 percent less chemicals. The introduction of the membrane technology also allows the water to be treated with 30 per cent less chemicals. According to the news release “all totaled the water resource of Mission and Abbotsford is a $130 million dollar investment, with the Norrish Creek Water Treatment Plant accounting for $18 million of the total.” For more information contact Jay Teichroeb at 604-864-5586 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SDTC offers support for green technology development
Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a Government of Canada initiative that finances and supports the development and demonstration of clean technologies, seeks to support industry development of technologies that address climate change, clean air and, recently, clean water and clean soil issues.
Prospective clean water technologies will look to optimize Canada's water and waste-water infrastructure, improve water conservation, update existing diagnostic tools and methods, and address public concern over drinking water safety.
Soil-improvement technologies will aim to prevent, treat or contain the contamination of soil, improve water retention, crop yield and vegetation cover, and support brownfield redevelopment to enhance land value and use. Solutions that mitigate environmental impacts such as soil remediation, or that remove pollution and generate value such as brownfield redevelopment, will also be considered.
To date, SDTC has completed seven funding rounds, allocated $169 million to 75 clean technology projects, and leveraged $446 million from project consortia members. SDTC currently manages $615 million in projects. This represents nearly a 3:1 ratio of industry-partner contribution to SDTC investment.
The next call for statements of interest will be on August 23, 2006.
For more information about SDTC’s funding process and criteria, please visit www.sdtc.ca/en/funding. Applicants can go directly online to submit their applications at www.sdtc.ca/en/funding/advice/soi_application.htm. For questions, contact email@example.com.
Team develops design for Kelowna’s new aquatic centre
Kelowna, BC could have a facility design and a fixed price proposal in place for the Mission Recreation Park Aquatic Centre by May 31, 2006. An early partnering agreement (available at www.missionrecreationpark.ca) between the city and PCL Constructors Westcoast Ltd. was approved by city council on January 23, 2006, allowing the design work for the facility to proceed. The city may terminate the early partnering agreement at any time.
An integrated design team -- consisting of city staff, Leisure Recreation Group, Spiegel Skillin & Associates and PCL’s project team of design specialists -- will develop an innovative and cost-effective design. If the team determines that the facility cannot be built within the allocated budget of $30 million, they will seek approval to make design or budget changes.
According to the news release, “the Mission Recreation Park Aquatic Centre is expected to feature a large leisure indoor water park, a 50-metre Olympic swimming pool, a major fitness centre and related commercial space. Key steps of the design phase include:
- finalizing facility functional requirements and specifications;
- developing the schematic (concept) design;
- council approval of the schematic design cost estimate;
- further design development for the facility fixed price proposal from PCL for completion of the design/build contract; and
- council approval of the fixed price proposal, which may include changes to the design, and/or project budget, or termination of the project.”
The city hopes to have the facility operational for the BC Summer Games in July 2008.
Infraguide offers best practice on transit priority
In late November 2005, InfraGuide, the National Guide to Sustainable Municipal Infrastructure, released Strategies for Implementing Transit Priority, highlighting various approaches to develop efficient and effective transit systems. Transport Canada, through the Urban Transportation Showcase Program, partnered with InfraGuide and the Canadian Urban Transit Association on this best practice. According to the release “the focus … is to find solutions that can be applied to bus and light rail systems to make better use of shared facilities with little or no impact to other road users, thus increasing transit performance and improving the performance of the network.” The guide is available in hardcopy, online and on compact disc. For pricing information, or to order visit www.infraguide.ca. You may also contact Fred Farag at 613-949-0190 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Toronto approves green roofs strategy
The City of Toronto researched the benefits of green roofs, established demonstration projects on two municipal buildings, and conducted extensive consultation with the public, environmental groups and industry, with the result that on February 2, 2006, city council committed to “install green roofs on new and existing buildings owned by the City, whenever practical to do so -- green roofs are to be considered for existing municipal buildings when roofs are due to be replaced. For new city-owned buildings, the Green Roofs strategy sets a target of green roofs covering 50 to 75 percent of a building's footprint.”
The city will also work to encourage construction of green roofs on non-city-owned buildings using zoning by-law amendments, site plan controls and offering education, funding, expert advice and promotion as well as potentially by offering financial incentives. More information is available on the Green Roofs website at www.toronto.ca/greenroofs or by contacting Jane Welsh at 416-392-9709.
New Brunswick addresses surgical wait times
The New Brunswick Surgical Care Network website (www.gnb.ca/0217/NBSCN-RSCNB/index-e.asp) was launched early in February to provide a greater understanding of surgical wait times and allow New Brunswickers to make better decisions about their own health care. Information on the site includes:
- the types of surgery performed in New Brunswick, by hospital;
- specialists who offer surgery in New Brunswick;
- questions to ask your surgeon;
- frequently asked questions and answers on wait-time management; and
- the wait times for various types of surgeries, by hospital.
New Brunswick’s surgical access management strategy will implement initiatives to designed to improve access and reduce waiting times, including a computerized registry of all patients awaiting surgery in the province, starting from when they met with their surgeon, until they booked into the system. This registry is expected to be operational in 2007. A standard patient assessment process for each surgical speciality will also be developed. According to the release the assessment process will “focus on issues such as pain intensity, type and frequency of symptoms, and the impact of the condition on the patient's daily activities. The assessment tools will be tested and validated by the surgeons, and will be ready for implementation once the registry is operational.” With the cooperation of the surgeons, target wait times for surgery will then be established based on the patient’s needs so that those with the highest priority have the shortest wait time. For more information please contact Johanne Le Blance at 506-457-3513.
British Columbia invests in provincial transportation network
Early in February 2006, British Columbia unveiled a comprehensive $3-billion plan to open up the province’s transportation network that includes “a new Pitt River Bridge, the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge, including the largest investment in cycling infrastructure in the province’s history and expansion of public transit across the Port Mann Bridge for the first time since 1986, and a new South Fraser bypass route from Delta Port to Highway 1 in Surrey.”
Details of the new plan can be found in the Gateway Program Definition Report, which details “how economic growth, population growth and changing regional travel patterns are placing additional strain on the capacity, reliability and safety of British Columbia’s largest trade and commuter routes connecting ports, airports, rail yards, town centres and communities.” More information on the Gateway Program, downloadable copies of the program definition report, a schedule of public consultations, artist renderings, graphics and maps are available online at www.gatewayprogram.bc.ca.
New community educational campuses open throughout BC
In late January, the new North Cariboo Community Campus, located in Quesnel, BC, officially opened in its new state-of-the-art building which will offer programs from both the College of New Caledonia and the University of Northern British Columbia. According to the release “the community campus, which features local wood and is highly energy efficient, includes 10 classrooms, two computer labs, two science labs, a nursing and health skills lab, library, cafeteria, student services centre, and administrative and faculty offices. The building has room for 415 full-time students, up from 274 in the old campus.”
The provincial government invested $11.6 million in this campus and is providing more than $800 million in capital funding to expand, enhance and replace campuses around BC over the next three years. A new campus has also been opened in Prince Rupert and others are under construction in Williams Lake, Surrey and Cloverdale.
Fort McMurray partners to develop quality of life indicators
January 30, 2006 - The Regional Municipality with the Athabasca Regional Issues Working Group (RIWG) and Suncor Energy has developed the first Sustainable Community Indicators for the Wood Buffalo region. The indicators can be used to measure quality of life in [Fort McMurray] community as compared to other communities in Alberta. The comparator communities include Edmonton, Grande Prairie, and Medicine Hat.
“The committee first looked at more than 1,000 indicators. This was eventually narrowed down by community stakeholders and the municipality to 21 indicators,” says Beth Sanders, manager, planning and development. “The 21 indicators selected measure the quality of life in the Wood Buffalo region, identify pressure points and track progress toward sustainability.”
The indicators include: economy – affordability and housing affordability; environment – air quality, water use and recycling/composting; public safety -crime rate and traffic collision rates; community – United Way donations and volunteering; government – voter participation; recreation/culture – facilities; housing – availability; transportation – public transit use; health – physicians and length of stay in emergency room; and other population resources – growth rate, migration and population by age and sex.
“The indicators studied provide a mixed picture of the quality of life in Fort McMurray and the Wood Buffalo region,” continues Sanders. “The indicators show both strengths and weaknesses. Having this statistical data will allow the municipality to strategically plan for our future knowing we’re making informed decisions that address our pressure points. This will be key as we will continue to experience growth for many years to come.”
The indicators show that high incomes more than compensate for the higher cost of living for most residents of Fort McMurray, but for many the cost of living is rising more quickly than income, due primarily to increases in the cost is housing. In other words, the “affordability advantage” enjoyed by most Fort McMurrayites is decreasing. The higher cost of living in Fort McMurray places a serious burden on families living on low or modest incomes, especially lone-parent families, and rising costs are increasing that burden.
On the environment side, air quality in downtown Fort McMurray is generally but not always better than in Edmonton. Fort McMurray residents could do more to reduce their ecological footprint, since they use more water, recycle less and use public transit less than residents of Edmonton.
The indicators show that public safely concerns of Fort McMurray residents are justified where crime is concerned, since the overall crime rate in the urban service area is higher than in most comparator communities and in the province as a whole. On a more positive note, crime rates in Fort McMurray have been decreasing.
Community involvement of Fort McMurray residents suggests both financial generosity and shortage of time. They give more generously than most comparator communities to the United Way, but they volunteer and vote less.
Where health services are concerned, residents of Fort McMurray have cause for both concern and comfort. There are fewer physicians in Fort McMurray relative to population than in any other health region in Alberta, but there are shorter emergency room wait times than in the comparator health regions.
The Sustainable Community Indicators provide the municipality baseline data to measure and determine improvements in quality of life in our community. Data will be updated on an ongoing basis as each indicator is measured at different intervals.
The working and summary documents of the Sustainable Community Indicators can be viewed at www.woodbuffalo.ab.ca. Hard copies of the working document or a CD containing the working and summary documents can be purchased through the Planning and Development Department, 4th floor, Municipal Hall. Beth Sanders can be reached at 780 743-7881.
Manitoba tests technology to improve diagnostic test choices
Wait times for diagnostic tests are a persistent irritant to patients and doctors and to the governments that are responsible for health care delivery. Slow diagnostic times also lead to increased wait times for appropriate treatment.
A pilot project in Manitoba, developed by the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR), will test electronic order entry software to see if it will reduce the wait times for diagnostic tests through eliminating those tests (e.g., a CT scan for a sprain) deemed to be “unnecessary.” Apparently roughly 10 percent of diagnostic tests run in Canada are unnecessary. CAR says these "unnecessary" tests ordered by physicians generally fall into three categories:
- repeats because the original test result may have been lost;
- tests that are inappropriate for the symptoms; and/or
- a test that will provide them with little information as the preferred test may not be available, or might not have been ordered initially.
The Percipio software offered by CAR for the pilot program was developed by Kitchener-based Medicalis Corp. Precipio provides physicians with guidelines for diagnostic imaging at the time they order the test, helping them to choose the most appropriate one. Reducing the incidence of inappropriate testing will reduce wait times. The ultimate decision regarding the choice of test remains the physician’s.
The $1 million project will be implemented through the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) at the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg. The partners include Health Canada, CAR, and Manitoba Health.
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