In the News Archive
March 2005

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Red River College to enter the North American Solar Challenge race

The 2005 North America Solar Challenge Race – the longest solar car race in the world – runs this July. The 10-day, 4,000 km race starts in Austin, Texas on July 17, arrives in Winnipeg on July 23 and carries on to Calgary to end on July 27 – marking the first time the route has entered Canada.

Natural Resources Canada is one of the event sponsors and several Canadian university/college teams are already registered. Now Red River College intends to showcase the capabilities of its automotive programs, students and staff. With financial support of $35,000 from the government of Manitoba and additional financing from the college itself, fundraising activities, commercial contributions and other government funding, Red River College will develop and build its first solar-powered race car, the Red River Raycer.

The funding covers purchasing a solar array and a high-efficiency direct current motor. In addition, FLEET, the province’s fleet vehicles agency that provides fleet management services to public sector organizations in Manitoba, will provide in-kind support.

The Red River Valley Clean Cities (RRVCC) group, which includes US and Canadian stakeholders in the Red River Valley region (covers Winnipeg and several rural municipalities in Manitoba, and six counties each in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota), will provide logistical support to the local portion of the race. Many other interest groups are also involved, all focusing on sustainable development initiatives, particularly reducing the dependence on fossil fuels. More information on RRVCC can be found at www.undeerc.org/programareas/renewableenergy/cleancities/rrvccregion/rrvccregion.asp.

SourceCan now hosts Chinese tenders

In early December 2004 SourceCAN and China Bidding Limited signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will provide SourceCAN with Chinese electronic tender opportunities from the environmental, machine/electronics, light industry, science/technology and telecommunications/computer sectors – all eligible to Canadian companies. In addition, tenders for the Beijing 2008 Olympics and the International Competitive Bidding (ICB) project alerts will be posted to SourceCAN. These tenders are available now.

SourceCAN is a portal website, developed though a partnership arrangement between Industry Canada and the Canadian Commercial Corporation, that matches Canadian products and services with business opportunities posted daily by both domestic and foreign corporations and governments.

China Bidding Limited, owns and operates two portals: www.chinabidding.com.cn and www.chinabidding.org, the sole and exclusive electronic medium authorized by the Chinese government for posting tender notices and other related information and contents.

UV technology cleans city waters

In late January 2005, Winnipeg, Manitoba and Calgary, Alberta again selected Trojan Technologies ultraviolet (UV) disinfection equipment. to treat their wastewater. Trojan’s UV disinfection process is environmentally friendly, effectively destroying water-borne pathogens without the necessity of using, transporting, handling or storing chemicals such as chlorine.

Winnipeg’s South End Water Pollution Control Centre has used the Trojan ultraviolet treatment system since 1999.The North End Water Pollution Control Centre, which discharges treated municipal wastewater to the Red River, will install three of the Trojan systems.

Due to population increases, the City of Calgary is constructing a new municipal wastewater treatment plant to protect the Bow River, which is a source for irrigation for farmlands along the river, and is used for recreation purposes. The new Pine Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant will install the Trojan UV system, which has also been used since 1997 at the city’s Fish Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Ottawa ‘amalgamates’ operational systems

The City of Ottawa was created in 2001 from the amalgamation of 12 different organizations, instantly becoming the fourth-largest city in Canada. The immediate challenge was to integrate services, operational structures and underlying technologies in order to successfully deliver services and generate savings. Government officials planning the amalgamation had targeted savings of $80 million a year.

IBM Canada Ltd. was contracted to implement the $40-million integrated business system. It took three years, but was completed on time and under budget. The new system uses SAP enterprise resource planning software to provide critical financial, HR, asset and work-management information. The result is simplified management, operational and decision-making environment at the city. Staff is being trained in the new system and efforts are being made to track the anticipated benefits, with the goal of delivering 100 percent by 2009. Already the city sees: all staff spending less time producing reports; improvements in response time for inquiries being made; more efficient and productive operations; one payroll system; and one consolidated inventory of the city’s real property assets, as well as several outdated computer systems being decommissioned.

DND continues on path to e-health care

In late January, the Canadian Armed Forces awarded Lockheed Martin Canada the second phase of a multi-year contract that will ultimately see the Department of National Defence operate a fully integrated electronic health management system, including scheduling and patient registration, clinical order review, pharmacy, laboratory and diagnostic imaging. The new system will be able to securely transfer records electronically, and make it easier to coordinate access to care regardless of location, translating into better health and dental care for all DND members. Lockheed Martin Canada is the prime contractor and is responsible for the integration of the bilingual software; centralizing the records; and securing both the information in the records and access to the records.

Yukon towns improve waterfront infrastructure

In late January 2005, the Governments of Canada and Yukon each committed funds to support waterfront development projects in Whitehorse and Carcross in the Yukon.

The Whitehorse project will see each government contribute up to $9.5 million, the City of Whitehorse $1 million, and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation $892,000. Initiatives include water, sewer, and street improvements and extensions, upgrades to the Kishwoot Island suspension bridge, relocation and restoration of heritage buildings and other aesthetic improvements, all aimed at upgrading the function and appearance of the waterfront and enabling further development. The funding may also be used to support arts and culture facilities, dock improvements, trolley extension and other projects.

The Governments of Canada and the Yukon will each contribute $1.5 million to the Carcross project, which covers a community clean up, water, sewer and road improvements, as well as landscaping and upgrades and construction for river structures. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is the federal delivery agency for the project, working in partnership with Infrastructure Canada. All projects will be finalized through a consultation process involving the Carcross Area Advisory Planning Committee and the community.

Kingston tackles wastewater treatment

Kingston Ontario plans to upgrade plant systems from primary to secondary treatment at its Ravensview Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) with contributions of $25 million from the federal government, $55 million from the city, and possibly some funding from the Province of Ontario. The upgrades will improve the capacity of the facility and the quality of wastewater.

Construction, scheduled to begin in the spring of 2006, will include eight biological filter tanks for secondary treatment, a pumping station to transfer wastewater, a digester that will handle solid materials from the treatment process, a septage receiving facility to relieve some of the pressures on the existing facility at the existing facility as well as chlorination/de-chlorination system improvements, automated headworks and grit removal, and upgrades to primary clarifiers and boiler and heat exchangers.

Alberta levies environmental fee on new electronics

As of February 1, 2005, electronics retailers in Alberta began collecting an environmental fee from purchasers of new televisions or computers (and related equipment). The fee (ranging from $5-$45 depending on the size and type of equipment) covers the cost of collection, transportation and recycling of electronic materials, public information and awareness programs and electronics recycling-related research.

The new electronics-recycling program was launched in October 2004 and is managed by the Alberta Recycling Management Association (ARMA), a non-profit organization. With over 75 e-collection locations across the province, Albertans have been busy dropping off unwanted electronics – an estimated 190,000 televisions and 90,000 desktop computers. The following electronics are accepted: TVs, desktop computers, monitors, CPUs (including keyboard, mouse, cables, speakers), printers and printer combinations and laptop computers.

Quebec supports nanotechnologies

Nanotechnology is the science of the infinitely small. It is hoped that the various nanotechnologies will give rise to both progressive applications and revolutionary technologies. As with most new ideas and research, considerable investment is required to both stimulate research and development, and span the time it takes to deliver marketable products. In mid-December, the Province of Québec continued its recognition of the potential of nanotechnologies through a variety of mechanisms:

  • It established the Fonds d'intervention économique régional (FIER) with an envelope of $300 million to sustain the start-up of regional and sectoral investment funds, support structuring projects favouring regional economic development and support changes made to Innovatech corporations. In order to attract private capital investment, Innovatech invests in emergent companies in the sectors of information technologies, telecommunications, optics, photonics, biotechnologies and advanced applied technologies.
  • It will maintain the financing of pre-competitive research for maturing technology projects, and the development of products entering phases where the risk is too high for companies to shoulder alone.
  • It adopted the Programme d'aide stratégique à l'investissement (PASI), which provides government assistance where it is essential to project achievement, and bolsters the support offered to private entrepreneurs supporting their share of risk.
  • It is promoting the development of a highly skilled labour force by establishing Attestation of Collegial Studies (ACS) programs. Three are presently offered, or will be in 2005, at the André Laurendeau, John Abbott, Ahunsic, Dawson and Maisonneuve CEGEPS. The programs cover nanomaterials, nanobiotechnologies and surface processing.

Community action on energy efficiency

Early in December 2004, a pilot project promoting energy efficiency in communities was launched in British Columbia – the Community Action on Energy Efficiency (CAEE) program. It is coordinated by Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Office of Energy Efficiency and the British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines, and is supported by the City of Kelowna and the utilities firm, FortisBC. The program will “clarify building regulations, standards and codes that effect energy efficiency. It will also research ways to address conflicts between the code and the development of sustainable buildings and identify programs that offer incentives to improve existing buildings.” A manual will be produced that will be a single source of information about sustainable buildings (including sustainability opportunities and issues for new mixed-use development projects), and a directory of funding and incentive programs. The project is valued at $101,000, which includes $45,000 of the eligible costs from NRCan, and funding and in-kind support from the City of Kelowna, FortisBC and the Province of British Columbia.

Two dimensional bar codes speed tax reporting

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is introducing the use of two-dimensional (2D) bar codes for this year’s tax filing.

Advances in bar code technology now enable greater amounts of data storage and retrieval and, according to the press release, it is possible to capture a personal income tax return in a single 2D bar code. For tax preparers who use certified tax preparation software to generate returns for individuals, but decide to print out the return on paper and mail it to the CRA instead of filing electronically, the certified tax preparation software will generate a 2D bar code that contains all of the individual identification and financial data necessary for the assessment of the return. The 2D bar code will be printed on the first page of the T1 Individual Income Tax and Benefit Return.

When CRA receives the tax return, the bar code will be scanned with a laser beam scanner. The retrieved data is then validated and processed by the same system as usual. If the scanning process is unsuccessful, the return will be handled under the traditional process.

The use of the bar code and certified tax preparation software should make this new filing method both faster and more accurate than the traditional one, where information was keyed into the system manually.

The 2D bar code option will be available to individual tax filers in the following year.

Biodiesel: PEI’s perfect blend of agriculture, energy and environment

In early February 2005, the Government of Prince Edward Island released a request for expressions of interest for the establishment of an oil seed extraction and biodiesel manufacturing plant in Prince Edward Island. Replacing even just a portion of the millions of litres of diesel and fuel oil used by Islanders with biodiesel – a cleaner-burning alternative fuel made from natural, renewable sources such as canola, recycled vegetable oils and animal fats – offers the province some energy self-sufficiency and would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Plus it provides opportunities for PEI farmers to grow energy crops. The expressions of interest, which were due February 23, 2005, will help the province identify how to best proceed, but it would like to see an annual production of 60-100 million litres of biodiesel. The lower production capacity would meet the needs of the PEI market, and the higher capacity would help PEI to become a biodiesel supplier within the Maritime region.

The provincial government set out guidelines for the biodiesel facility that companies submitting expressions of interest must meet. One of the primary considerations is that the facility would use approximately 10 million litres of canola oil a year, which gives PEI farmers the opportunity to grow canola as part of a three-year crop rotation. As well, the farmers who are producing the canola could possibly have a share of ownership in the facility. The request for expressions of interest asks companies to identify and detail the size of the biodiesel facility – which would include an extraction plant and a refinery, the technical systems to be used, capital and operating cost estimates, and an ownership model and financing approach. Once the submissions to the request for expressions of interest are evaluated, the province could proceed with a request for proposals or begin negotiations with one or more companies that have expressed interest.

Provinces go for “green” energy

Ontario: The Province of Ontario has set targets to generate a portion of Ontario’s electricity from renewable sources: five percent by 2007 and 10 percent by 2010. In late fall 2004, Hydro Ottawa’s “green” power subsidiary, Energy Ottawa, received approval from the province, in the form of a 20-year contract, for its plan to generate electricity from methane gas being produced at the Trail Road landfill site. Methane is a “greenhouse” gas that contributes to global warming and smog and is a natural by-product of decaying garbage. The Trail Road station is expected to generate about five megawatts of power (enough for 4-5 thousand homes), reduce significant greenhouse gas emissions per year and save the City of Ottawa money – an estimated $2.2 million in costs the city would bear trying to contain and mitigate the environmental impact of the methane gas produced at the landfill. Energy Ottawa will also pay the city about $140,000 a year for use of the site.

New Brunswick: The historic plant, St George Power, was redeveloped to become the first and only power generation facility in New Brunswick to be certified – following a rigorous third party audit – under the national Environmental Choice(M) Program as a “green” source of energy and receive the Eco Logo. Construction of the new dam and demolition of the old dam began in the spring of 2002. The new dam can generate up to 40,000-megawatt hours per year and meets the requirements of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Atlantic Salmon Federation for providing safe and easy migration opportunities for fish.

Business should support efficient government procurement

Op Ed, February 14, 2005, submitted by: Bernard Courtois, President and CEO of ITAC, the Information Technology Association of Canada, which represents companies in information and communications technology across Canada.

Business associations make frequent representations to government. Whether they represent forestry or mining or the technology sector, they generally all call upon government to do two things above all – reduce taxes and improve the efficiency of government service delivery.

Our federal government has, in response to persistent calls for efficiency improvements, recently undertaken to do just as business has requested. In 2004, a Task Force, lead by MP Walter Lastewka, thoroughly examined all aspects of how government buys goods and services. The Lastewka Task Force conducted this review in the full light of public scrutiny and with intensive consultation with the private sector.

The Task Force’s objectives were to make the government a better more knowledgeable buyer, to save money and time in the procurement process and in the end find significant savings that can be redeployed to lower taxes or pay for other national priorities.

ITAC, the Information Technology Association of Canada, has consulted extensively with the task force and with officials at Treasury Board and at PWGSC on matters pertaining to the acquisition of information and communications technologies (ICT) goods and services. One of the thoughtful questions government asked was “What’s current best practice for procurement in the private sector?” They discovered that private sector buyers such as large banks and manufacturing organizations have come to grips with the complexity of the modern procurement environment by reducing not only the costs of the goods and services they buy but by reducing the internal costs of administering procurement and by reducing the time it takes to process a purchase. In short, the government has identified best practices and is actively attempting to implement them.

ITAC, along with other business associations and many taxpayers, sees this as laudable. Businesses cannot responsibly advocate lower taxes and more efficient government on the one hand, while demanding that the government spend more than it should in the process of buying products and services on the other.

ITAC has been deeply engaged in efforts to improve the federal government procurement process for over a decade. We strongly support the direction the government is currently taking because our members – which include Canadian ICT companies, large and small, as well as the Canadian operations of global technology companies – contributed to it. The processes recommended reflect the processes deployed most effectively in the private sector marketplace.

Recent controversy that suggests that these processes may harm small technology companies presents a dangerous and unnecessary impediment to procurement reform.

Small, innovative vendors play a valuable role in providing goods and services to government and indeed to all large enterprises. They should not and will not be cut out of any improved procurement process. We have made this point in all our consultations with government. And government representatives have indicated that they, too, are aware of this. We all recognize that, properly implemented, procurement reform can deliver efficiencies and expose Canadian innovations to important customers in the private and public sectors in Canada and around the world.

We need to get on with it. Stalling procurement reform at this critical juncture is in no one’s best interest. Canadian business and Canadian taxpayers want a procurement regime that spends public money on the basis of best value, following best practice. They do not want subsidies for vendors. There are legitimate uses of government buying power to serve economic development goals, but they need not, and should not, require inefficient purchasing.

Architects selected for 2010 Olympic sites

The City of Richmond has selected Cannon Johnston Architecture Inc. to lead a team of architectural and engineering design specialists in designing the Richmond Olympic Oval, home of the long track speed skating competition for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The project includes design of a landmark multi-purpose sports, recreation and community facility on Richmond’s waterfront along with the new City Centre Waterfront Park and public plaza surrounding the building.

The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) selected Stantec Architecture Ltd. Vancouver to design the Whistler Sliding Centre. The venue will be located on Blackcomb Mountain and host bobsled, luge and skeleton events. Stantec will provide general site engineering services, a detailed design and site master plan for venue. The Stantec team includes: Stantec Architecture, Stantec Consulting, Stonefield Development, Van Boerum & Frank Associates, Inc. and R.H. Strong & Associates Inc. Construction of a track, with a proposed running length of approximately 1,400 meters with 16 corners, is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2005 and be completed by the fall of 2007. Other features will include a storage area for 50 sleds and a proposed venue capacity of 12,000 spectators.

Brandon’s Keystone Centre sees renewal

Fifteen million – a combination of funding from the new Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (MRIF) ($5 million each from the governments of Canada and Manitoba) and $5 million from The Keystone Agricultural and Recreational Centre Inc. – will see the expansion and upgrading of the existing Keystone Centre in Brandon, Manitoba, including the addition of an Agricultural Centre of Excellence. The Keystone Centre is Manitoba's largest year-round multi-functional facility for sporting, hospitality, agricultural and cultural events.

The proposed new Agricultural Centre of Excellence will include the development of a 100,000-square-foot building with a show ring for events such as rodeos, cattle sales and major equestrian competitions, seating for up to 700 people and house stabling facilities, a wash rack, washrooms, canteen/office space and connecting corridors to the existing facility. Keystone Centre improvements will include replacing some of the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and roofing, and upgrading safety, electrical and building systems, as well as the building exterior.

Partners create western IBM Centre for Advanced Studies

The Government of Alberta, IBM and the University of Alberta have joined forces to create an IBM Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) in Alberta at the University of Alberta, the first in western Canada. Alberta will contribute $450,000 to the three-year pilot project, and IBM and the University of Alberta will contribute funds, technology and facilities valued at $810,000.

The IBM CAS is a global organization cultivating collaborative research arrangements between IBM and universities. The first IBM CAS was created at the IBM Toronto Software Lab in 1990 and was very successful. It has been replicated worldwide in places such as Amsterdam (Netherlands), Barcelona (Spain), Boblingen (Germany), Dublin (Ireland), Raleigh (North Carolina), Hawthorne (New York), Austin (Texas), Bangalore (India), Australia, Ottawa, Toronto, and now at the University of Alberta.

IBM CAS Alberta will provide students and researchers from the University of Alberta with technology, funding and exposure to worldwide collaborative opportunities for work on innovative projects, initially anticipated to be in the areas of machine intelligence, nanotechnology and biological simulation. The research results will be incorporated into real world technology products. Once IBM CAS Alberta is established and running, the intent is to expand the program to other Alberta post-secondary institutions and increase the areas of research.

Common criteria program certifies IT products

Common criteria, an alignment and development of a number of source criteria (existing European, US and Canadian), is an ISO standard that has been ratified in 17 countries. Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s national cryptologic agency, and the US-based National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) are two of the international communities enforcing the standard through the Common Criteria Recognition Arrangement (CCRA). The NIAP program – jointly operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Security Agency (NSA) – evaluates the conformance of IT products to international standards. CSE provides the Government of Canada with foreign signals intelligence in support of defence and foreign policy, and the protection of electronic information and communication.

According to the CSE website, participants in the CCRA arrangement want to:

  • ensure that evaluations of IT products and protection profiles are performed to high and consistent standards, and are seen to contribute significantly to confidence in the security of those products and profiles;
  • improve the availability of evaluated, security-enhanced IT products and protection profiles;
  • eliminate duplicating evaluations of IT products and protection profiles; and
  • continuously improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the evaluation and certification/validation process.

IT products and protection profiles achieving the ‘common criteria’ certificate would be recognized as not requiring further evaluation and consequently, would be easier to procure and use.

In mid-December 2004, US-based Intellitactics, Inc.’s, Security Information Management (SIM) solution, became the first SIM software to achieve Common Criteria certification under the CSE program. Intellitactics™ ensures the availability, confidentiality and integrity of critical information assets. The new certification provides more peace of mind to purchasers seeking commercial-off-the-shelf products that must meet stringent security requirements.

SIMs – a new category of software and devices – collect information from every security device in an organization, store it in a common database, analyze it and report in an easier to understand format. Some SIMs are designed to take automatic action, such as changing the settings on a firewall. Ultimately, SIMs brings order to an organization’s security system, which can be very complex – due most often to being built over time on multiple devices and software.

New Brunswick’s PLANET system gets upgrade

Service New Brunswick’s (SNB) real property information system (PLANET) was recently upgraded to include online aerial photos of property, land-use information and a new graphical interface (browser) that provides users with the ability to layer geographic attributes one on top of the other – adding clarity and precision. Users can now print better quality maps and save them on their own computer.

Subscribers can retrieve real-time information such as survey plans and documents (deeds, mortgages, wills, etc.) relating to property ownership, property maps and assessment information about properties across New Brunswick. Developed by SNB and CARIS (a local IT firm with offices in the Netherlands and United States), PLANET software, known as CARIS-LIN, is also being used by the Province of Nova Scotia.

Hamilton police work with citizens online

In mid-January 2005, the Hamilton Police Service launched a new website (www.hamiltonpolice.on.ca/hps) developed with input from internal and external stakeholders. It was designed to engage local residents in community-based policing initiatives and to foster teamwork and better collaboration with partners. Toronto-based Navantis Inc. was engaged to build the website using technology that would be cost-effective and simplify ongoing support and maintenance of the site. The site allows police officers to update information quickly, easily and more often, facilitating communication with citizens. Critical alerts, such as a reported crime, can be posted on the website and automatically broadcasted to the relevant police divisions, wireless devices and a separate community website.

Earlier in 2004 the City of Sudbury, as part of the city’s Smart Sudbury project, contracted Navantis to provide an interactive Web portal that would be a one-stop, online resource in English and French for local citizens, organizations and visitors. Local community information was siloed on different websites, often outdated and difficult to find. The new site was to change all that. Navantis developed the portal using its Community Municipal Portal™ (CMP) solution, based on the Microsoft® platform.


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