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In the News
December 2009

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College breaks ground on centre of excellence

According to a November 2009 news release, “construction is set to begin on Okanagan College’s [Kelowna] new $28-million Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation following the official groundbreaking by provincial, federal and college representatives. The project will create up to 179 direct jobs.

…The Centre of Excellence is being built to meet the Living Building Challenge, a set of building standards that exceeds LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum. The Living Building Challenge is comprised of seven performance areas; site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. The facility should achieve a net-zero energy consumption by incorporating building elements that are a first in Canada and North America and is already being recognized for its world-class design. It is expected that building costs associated with meeting this very high standard will be similar to conventional construction.

…Once complete, the 7,000 square metre centre will offer innovative programming in geo-thermal, onsite alternative energy sources, metering and monitoring of green buildings, building envelope construction, life cycle site management, refrigeration mechanics, applied conservation technician, H-VAC and power lineman.

…The facility will provide space for start-up companies to explore and develop new ideas and the centre will host research and development activities in partnership with industry and not-for-profit organizations. Students will benefit by being involved in the research of cutting-edge technology, while curriculum will be designed to meet ever-changing needs.

…For more information on the BC government’s three-year job creation plan, visit www.gov.bc.ca/infrastructure. For more information about the federal Knowledge Infrastructure Program visit www.ic.gc.ca/knowledge-infrastructure.”

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New website assists BC residences when recycling cell phones

British Columbia recently launched a new Web-based program, RecycleMyCell.ca, that provides quick information – drop-off locations close to your own location as defined by your postal code – to those looking for a place to recycle their old cell-phones. The website (www.recyclemycell.ca) also provides instructions for cleaning your device of all personal data before dropping it off at a recycling site.

This program diverts e-waste from landfills and is consistent with the goals of B.C.’s Recycling Regulation, where producers are responsible for the end-of-life management of their products, including collecting and recycling.

According to the news release, “…Recycle My Cell is a free program organized by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) in conjunction with cell phone service providers, handset manufacturers and recycling companies. The goal of the program is to raise awareness about the importance of cell phone recycling and keep handsets from entering Canada’s landfills.

…A donation to participating charities is made for each device returned through the program. Some of the charities benefiting from the program include the World Wildlife Fund, Tree Canada and Food Banks Canada.

…Cell phones, pagers, smart-phones, wireless PDAs, external air-cards, headsets, chargers, batteries and other accessories are all accepted at Recycle My Cell collection sites or through the mail-back option, regardless of brand, model or age, working or non-working. The devices are then sent to recycling facilities where they are refurbished or dismantled for scrap. The scrap materials are used to produce new mobile devices and a variety of other items. More than 95 percent of the materials in an average mobile device are recyclable.

All the companies involved with the Recycle My Cell program are ISO 14001:2004 certified, or certified under Electronic Product Stewardship Canada’s Recycling Vendor Qualification Program. This means they have an environmental management system in place which ensures accountability and knowledge of the associated impacts.

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Testing tidal power in Nova Scotia

In mid November 2009, Nova Scotia Power and its technology partner, OpenHydro, installed their commercial-scale tidal turbine in the Minas Passage area of the Bay of Fundy, about 10 kilometres west of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, making the dream of tidal power as one source of the province’s renewable energy supply come one step closer to reality.

According to the news release, “…The province has contributed $9 million towards the tidal power project. This includes $2 million for independent research, and $7 million from ecoNova Scotia for Clean Air and Climate Change for shared development costs.

All tidal devices installed at the project site must adhere to strict environmental conditions and monitoring. The site, managed by FORCE [Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy], has approval to operate three different tidal devices.

The province has set a target of 25 percent renewable electricity supply by 2015. Tidal energy has the potential to make a small contribution towards this target, with a potentially expanded role in future years. Research suggests a potential resource in the Minas Passage area of up to 300 megawatts – enough to power about 100,000 homes.

This is OpenHydro's largest device in operation in the world, and together with the sub-sea base built by Cherubini Metal Works in Dartmouth, will be roughly six storeys high.”

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Winnipeg seeks updated automated voting machines

In 1995 the City of Winnipeg introduced automated voting, which revolutionized all of their election processes and systems. It improved the accuracy and speed of reporting as well as accountability. The system utilized optical scanning technology that recorded all the ballots into its memory pack. The memory pack of each voting machine was then read at election headquarters by a central tabulation unit. Usually vote results were available within 90 minutes.

That system is now nearly 15 years old, no longer state of the art and prone to breaking down. According to a November 19, 2009 news release, “The city of Winnipeg is shopping around for a large number of new voting machines to be used in next year's municipal election.

More than $1 million has been set aside to purchase 230 cutting-edge ballot counters, which officials said will cut down on voter fraud and make casting a ballot easier for visually impaired people… The city plans to lease out the machines to other municipalities in the province when they're not being used in Winnipeg.”

The new machines are described as being the size of a laptop and able to scan a ballot in a fraction of a second. Wearing headphones and using a touch screen, the voter will select the candidate they want; then the ballot will be printed for them and then inserted into the tabulator. The machine is reputed to be excellent at interpreting ballot marks so forgery or falsified ballots are seen not to be an issue.

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Ottawa firm contracted to manage the Rideau Canal Skateway

A local Ottawa company, TerraPro, has been working under contract for the National Capital Commission (NCC) for several years. Most recently over the last three years it has managed the Rideau Canal Skateway at a cost of $277,437. Under a new contract with the NCC (3 years with an optional two, 1-year extensions), TerraPro will continue in its role of managing Ottawa’s famous and unique “skating rink.” However, due to expanded requirements, which include transportation, logistical support, maintenance, and the installation and removal of the tents and small buildings used on the canal, as well as some of the aspects of Winterlude, Ottawa’s winter carnival, that take place on the canal, the value of the new contract is worth up to $579,000. According to the NCC, TerraPro Corp. was one of two companies to bid on the contract.

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Ontario hospital installs solar heating system

Working with Honeywell, Cambridge Memorial Hospital in Ontario has engaged in a facility renewal program to reduce energy and save on utility expenses that include traditional elements such as sealing doors and windows; energy-efficient lighting; a new pressurization fan to better control temperatures; piping insulation; and chiller controls, and non-traditional elements such as a SolarWall air-heating system. By attaching three SolarWalls to the exterior of the hospital (covering more than 929 m2), Honeywell implemented the largest solar wall of any North American healthcare organization. SolarWalls use perforated metal that helps shield against sun in the summer, then heats air for the ventilation system during winter.

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Ontario introduces automated fare transit card

The Government of Ontario has been developing an automated fare system – PRESTO – with eight municipal transit systems in the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton and Ottawa areas, and GO Transit. GO Transit is Canada’s first, and Ontario’s only, interregional public transit system (created and funded by a provincial government), linking Toronto with the surrounding regions of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Through its network of train and bus services, GO carries nearly 55 million passengers a year. On May 14, 2009, GO Transit officially merged with Metrolinx and will operate under that name.

PRESTO is an easy to use fare card that allows users to travel on and between multiple transit systems. Users can preload their card’s e-purse by phone, online or in person and, with a simple tap of the card, the fare is deducted from your card each time you travel. With PRESTO’s built-in loyalty program, riders will receive fare discounts based upon the number of rides taken and the value of the fares accumulated within the calendar month. Registered PRESTO cards can be replaced and the value restored if it is lost or stolen.

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Canada and BC invest to improve BC’s Highway 16

Highway 16 is a vital link for residents and commercial traffic in northern British Columbia so its condition is of critical importance to the region. According to a news release on November 21, 2009, “the safety and reliability of Highway 16 between Prince George and Fraser Lake will be improved with three highway improvement projects totalling $5.9 million. …The governments of Canada and British Columbia will each invest up to $2.95 million for the three highway improvement projects, which will get underway next construction season: 

  • Repairs to freshet damage near Prince George. Slope stabilization, culvert replacements and drainage enhancements at various locations along Highway 16.
  • Resurface intermittent sections of Highway 16 at Hungry Hill and 6 Mile Hill near Burns Lake.

Extend the eastbound climbing lane on Highway 16 at Holy Cross Hill near Fraser Lake by 1.6 km.”

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NECI Announces New Ownership

VICTORIA--National Education Consulting Inc. (NECI) of Victoria, B.C. has announced that, effective December 1, 2009, Maureen Sullivan, LLB has assumed ownership of the company from founding owners Gerald Smeltzer, LLM and Linda Saunders. Mr. Smeltzer, a well-known and respected lawyer, instructor, writer and advisor in procurement and contract management in Canada for many years, and Ms. Saunders, a successful marketing and communications specialist, plan to take some time for travel and other adventures.

Ms. Sullivan, a native Victorian, has been one of NECI’s principal instructors for more than 15 years, teaching its Signature Seminars across Canada. She also helped design and deliver the enormously successful Procurement and Contract Management Program (PCMP) to the B.C. civil service and other public sector organizations. For the last four years NECI’s Director of Educational Services, and a long-time contributing editor to the company’s publication, The Legal Edge, Ms. Sullivan now assumes the position of president. She also takes on the publisher’s role for The Legal Edge.

Integral to the growth of NECI since shortly after it was founded in 1991, Ms. Sullivan brings to her new position a unique depth of knowledge and breadth of experience. That means both a seamless transition and an opportunity to build immediately on core strengths in online and on-the-ground instruction. NECI will continue to offer its popular Signature Seminars, deliver the PCMP and publish The Legal Edge. It has also recently begun offering popular eSeminars, including two eSeminars for the vendor community.

Ms. Sullivan is very excited about the opportunity to take the company forward into the field of electronic instruction, and to enhance both the Signature Seminars and The Legal Edge. She wishes to thank both Gerald and Linda for their excellent direction of NECI over the years, and for their enormous contributions to the procurement and contract management profession in Canada.

For more information, contact:
Maureen Sullivan,
National Education Consulting Inc.
202 - 1005 Broad Street
Victoria, BC V8W 2A1
tel (250) 370-0041
e-mail inquiries@neci-legaledge.com

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European paving technology to be used in Dawson

Dawson City, Yukon, will use a new product called bituclair in street paving projects. Bituclair produces a lighter coloured pavement that minimizes both solar absorption and melting in the underlying permafrost. The Yukon Department of Highways and Public Works is supporting the city in this project. The Yukon is the first jurisdiction in North America to use the product. Bituclair is used extensively in Europe and the product being used in Dawson City was manufactured in France. (For more information, please contact Roxanne.vallevand@gov.yk.ca).

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Montreal introduces tactile metro maps

The Longueuil-based Institute for the Visually Impaired has partnered with the Montreal Transit Authority to create a ground breaking, new tactile mapping system. Funding for the project was provided by the Institut Nazareth & Louis-Braille (INLB). The maps enable impaired people to explore with their fingers and memorize the physical layout of transit stations before entering. The maps are printed on special paper, with raised specified lines, diagrams and symbols which are detectable by touch. The paper also contains a product that swells when heated. Now visually impaired residents can determine where to get on and off a train, where corridors and exists lead, the locations of escalators and stairs, benches, pillars and wall mounted telephones. (For more information, please visit www.inlb.qc.ca).

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NS Department of Health pulls service contract

According to a November 24, 2009 news release, the Nova Scotia Department of Health has “withdrawn funding from the Richmond County Home Support Services Society and has contracted an alternative service provider – the Guysborough County Home Support Agency – to ensure Richmond County residents receive home support that is more responsive to their needs.” This step was taken when the Society failed to address deficiencies outlined in a December 2008 audit. The new firm will provide services for about eight months until a request for proposal can be issued for a permanent service provider.

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Operational efficiency helps during tight times

Below is an excerpt from an article Faltering economy: time to thoughtfully challenge the status quo by Scott Collins, Brendan Hanlon and Ed Scholtz, PM, which appears in ICMA Public Management Magazine, June 2009, Volume 91, Number 5 (http://icma.org/pm/9105/). The article focuses on tools for governments to prioritize programs, align resources with corporate goals and improve the efficiency and delivery of services. Naturally some of these ideas will impact procurement departments either in their own management or as they need to respond to client requirements.

According to the authors, assessing overhead costs is one method for local government to demonstrate its efficiency to its citizens – but keep in mind that while managers may be able to find ways to cut costs, they must be able to do so and still deliver quality service. Citizen demand for services will not decrease, so managers need to be fully responsible for their operational and program overheads, exploring every opportunity to keep these costs down through benchmarking data to make informed decisions, process improvements, efficient resource allocation and the judicious application of funding.

Below are a couple of tools that the authors suggest:


  • Establishing and defining results. Engaging elected officials, decision makers, administration, and citizens by using the strategy mapping technique, in a collaborative process designed to clearly identify and define results while diverting others from arguing, blocking, or otherwise deterring the process.
  • Establishing a definable value for programs. Establishing a clear value for every program; accounting for the objectives of the community, of the elected officials’ specific platforms and policy objectives, and of citizen interest groups; conforming with mandates; and responding to demands for service among other criteria that would influence value.
  • Linking results and strategic planning to resource allocation decisions. Prioritization as a process helps us better articulate why the programs we offer exist, what value they offer to citizens, how they benefit the community, what price we pay for them, what objectives they are achieving, and which citizen demands they are answering.

And prioritization puts into focus how strategic we are about understanding what we do, why we do it, and, in times of strife as well as abundance, how we should invest our resources to achieve the results our communities need.

Driving down overhead costs…

  • Create internal service funds for IT, fleet, facility management, and other internal support functions. This is an "enterprise management" approach, whereby agencies become customers that pay for the services they receive from these overhead functions. Budgeting those costs in departments will drive businesslike decisions. If costs become too high, agencies can look to contract out the work. Service agreements should be used to document service commitments and the cost for any given service. Agency service choices should have clear costs associated with them. Support agencies can become the target of public scrutiny, but their costs can be driven by unknowing agencies that expect Porsche services at Cadillac prices. The greatest utility of internal service funds is that they create transparency in decisions.
  • Process improvement efforts systematically document, analyze, and reduce redundancies and inefficiencies in processes. The best systems focus employees on customer needs to drive improvements. These efforts are not easy to implement. They require time and management commitment across the organization. An organization needs to invest in employee training and set an expectation for participation in the effort. A centralized process improvement team will be effective, but long-term success will be based on the organizational culture embracing the system.
  • Develop a target percentage for overhead costs because a target allows you to gauge progress in your overall efforts at lowering costs; a target also affirms the organization’s commitment to doing what matters.”
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Data, data, data – never enough and not the right kind

According to a November 3, 2009 news release, “Departments’ evaluations cover only a relatively low proportion of their total program spending, says the Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser.”

Her most recent audit report tabled in the House of Commons, “looked at the evaluation of program effectiveness in six [federal] departments and at the Treasury Board Secretariat’s related oversight and support across government, including its development of the 2009 evaluation policy.

Program evaluations can be a valuable source of information for decisions to change, improve, or replace programs,” said Ms. Fraser. “But departments we audited said they are concerned about whether they can meet expanded requirements under the 2009 policy.

The audit found that although the Treasury Board Secretariat has created a centre of excellence for evaluation, it has not done enough to provide departments with the tools and support they need – for example, to help them with the long-standing problem of insufficient data on program performance. Often the audited departments had not gathered the information needed to evaluate program effectiveness. Of the 23 evaluation reports reviewed by the audit, 17 noted that inadequate data had limited the assessment of program effectiveness.

The report notes that departments said it is a challenge to find enough experienced evaluators, and they have made extensive use of contractors to meet requirements. This makes it difficult to build the capacity to implement evaluation of all direct program spending.”

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Saskatchewan adopts petroleum registry technology

“Saskatchewan is now part of the Petroleum Registry of Alberta, thanks to a memorandum of agreement signed recently with the Alberta government. Participation in the seven year-old registry is a key part of the government's multi-year renewal of its information technology systems around oil and gas business processes. …The registry has proven effective in allowing industry to quickly record petroleum and natural gas volumetric and infrastructure data into a central database. This information can be used as an analytical tool by industry and government, and the information collected in turn helps government in administration of its royalty and tax regimes.”

“The registry serves three functions:

  1. It is a central database for all of the volumetric and infrastructure data supporting Saskatchewan’s petroleum and natural gas royalty regimes and tax administration;
  2. It is a means to enable the [Saskatchewan] Ministry of Energy and Resources and industry stakeholders to exchange accurate information quickly and efficiently; and
  3. It is an analysis tool. Saskatchewan’s data will remain separate from others’ data. Fujitsu Consulting (Canada) Ltd. will provide Saskatchewan with registry support.”

Fujitsu Consulting (Canada) Ltd. will provide Saskatchewan with registry support.”

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Whitehorse studies district heating system option

The City of Whitehorse in the Yukon commissioned EBA Engineering Consultants Limited (EBA) to study the possibility of implementing a district heating system (possibilities included geoexchange and waste heat from underground sewer lines to heat homes) in the Whistle Bend Neighborhood (WBN) that could service multiple homes from a single natural source. The study was jointly financed with a $120,500 grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, $96,400 from the Government of Yukon, and $24,100 from the City of Whitehorse. Study results, presented for discussion in June 2009, are summarized below.

“Geoexchange Ground Heat Exchangers
EBA completed an analysis of plausible ground heat exchangers (GHXs) for the WBN. Two practical GHX closed loop options were evaluated in detail: Vertical Drilled Borehole and Horizontal Trench. Based on a ten-point analysis, a Vertical Drilled Borehole Closed Loop GHX was shown to be the leading ground coupling option for the WBN.

Hybrid Heat Sources
For the WBN, it is neither practical nor economically feasible to design the GHX for 100 percent of the heating loads. Thermal assistance is required from hybrid heat sources (e.g., sewer heat recovery, solar thermal and/or auxiliary boiler systems).

Sewer heat recovery was assessed for a variety of pickup points and heat recovery technologies (both in-stream and out-of-stream methods). The best potential for sewer heat recovery is at the proposed central WBN Lift Station, based on heat source, constructability, and cost factors.

Solar thermal (glazed flat plate) collectors were considered as a practical way to offset demands on the GHX and reduce system cost. These collectors would best be mounted on commercial building rooftops (to minimize heat losses and inhibit vandalism). The peaking heating concept presented here includes an oil-fired boiler, but other fuels could be considered depending on future availability and cost.

District Energy System
Evaluation The intended energy use of a geoexchange-based district energy system (DES) presented here is space heating only. Domestic hot water heating and space cooling were not considered. EBA developed a series of concept basis statements, clarifying geoexchange basis, schedule, extractable sewer heat, method to calculate building loads, and use of DES energy, as a foundation for the DES evaluation. EBA developed and used these six representative DES analysis scenarios:

  • Scenario 1 – Development Area 1 only;
  • Scenario 2 – Development Area 2 only;
  • Scenario 3 – Development Areas 1 and 2;
  • Scenario 4 – Development Area 4 only;
  • Scenario 5 – All Development Areas except 2H and 5; and
  • Scenario 6 – All Development Areas.

…The concept centers around a common low-temperature supply pipeline distributing energy in the form of an environmentally-friendly, water-based antifreeze solution to points of use, and allows a variety of lower-grade heat sources or sinks to be added during future growth.

Environmental benefits of utilizing a hybrid geoexchange DES include avoided greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improvement in outdoor air, reduced use of fossil fuels, greater adherence to City of Whitehorse sustainability principles and practices, and a leadership position in Canada, as this would be one of, if not the, largest geoexchange-based DES installations in northern Canada.

Potential environmental effects include groundwater and runoff control during construction and GHX drilling, aesthetic effects associated with road construction and installing solar panels, operational noise, disruption of green space, spills from peaking boiler fuel sources, and potential releases of antifreeze liquid used in the GHX and DES distribution piping.

The WBN is located within the traditional territories of the Kwanlin Dun F irst Nation and the Ta'an Kwach'an Council. A DES for the WBN should be designed to accommodate future expansion, and developers should keep the First Nations apprised of future design features.

…Conclusions and Recommendations

  1. Based on our preliminary analysis, neither gas-based or air-source heat pump alternatives to a geoexchange-based district energy system make economic or practical sense for the WBN at this time.
  2. Vertical drilled borehole closed loop ground heat exchangers are the most suitable ground coupling option for the WBN.
  3. The preferred location for sewage heat recovery at the WBN is at the planned central lift station.
  4. A hybrid geoexchange-based district energy system for Development Areas 1 and 2 combined (Scenario 3) is the preferred option, based on investment rate of return (6.7% and 7.2%, with and without sewer heat recovery, respectively). [Without sewer heat recovery, capital cost is estimated at $15.2 million. With sewer heat recovery, capital cost is estimated at $18.8 million. Implementing Scenario 3 with sewer heat recovery would save about 1.25 million litres of fuel oil per year, or about 3,350 equivalent tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, which is equivalent to removing about 680 cars and light trucks from the road, or planting 1,150 hectares of carbon absorbing forest.]
  5. It would not be recommended to apply for a YESAA (environmental) assessment for the DES separate from the subdivision development. However, it is important to contact the assessment agency early in the process to discuss the project scope.
  6. A hybrid model of part public/private ownership and operation may be most suitable for the WBN development.”
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Nova Scotia launches IT system to support integrated emergency response and health care

According to a November 18, 2009 news release, “the first system in Canada to provide paramedics with instant access to MedicAlert health records has been successfully launched in Nova Scotia. Within hours of the system going live, a paramedic in Halifax accessed potentially life-saving information en route to the hospital with a patient.

…MedicAlert Access-En Route in Nova Scotia allows paramedics to access the MedicAlert emergency health records from ambulances and include it as part of the electronic patient care record. The Siren ePCR software, developed by Medusa Medical Technologies, is used by paramedics to chart the care they provide to patients in the field.

…Paramedics can now call up a patient's MedicAlert record, to obtain critical data such as allergy, medication, and physician information… The system will help create more comprehensive and integrated information sharing between ambulatory care, emergency rooms, primary care physicians, and other sources of patient service. The model can also be used to provide other health care professionals, such as emergency room staff, with timely and secure access to MedicAlert information.”

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