In the News Archive
October 2005

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Nova Scotia launches municipal internship program

The new Nova Scotia Municipal Internship Program, sponsored by Service Nova Scotia, Municipal Relations and the Association of Municipal Administrators, will place a university graduate in a host municipality where they will be exposed to all aspects of municipal administration and management including finance and budgeting, human resources, land use planning and council decision making.

According to the press release, “Municipalities will apply to Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations to host an intern. Two municipalities will be selected to participate in the first year. The chief administrative officer, or equivalent, of each host municipality will be responsible for mentoring and coaching their intern for a one-year term. The intern will report directly to the CAO. Recent graduates who apply for the program will be short-listed by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and host municipalities will interview and hire their interns. The province will fund between 50 and 75 percent of the intern’s salary to a maximum of $25,000 per intern. The host municipality will be responsible for additional salary costs and any employment benefits.” Additional information is available at http://servicens.ca/muns/internships.

Canadian Coast Guard awards standing offers for LED marine lights

In August 2005, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) awarded two additional standing offers to Carmanah Technologies Inc., headquartered in Victoria, BC, for the company’s self-contained, solar LED marine lights and related accessories (http://www.solarmarinelights.com). The contracts were issued under the CCG’s Marine Aids Modernization Project, which is designed to reduce maintenance expenditures through the use of better and more modern technologies. Under the terms of each contract, authorized representatives of the CCG may purchase the solar-powered LED marine lights for use on fixed and floating aids-to-navigation applications requiring either 1.5 or 2 nautical miles of visibility. Call-up orders of up to $40,000, including applicable taxes may be issued. These two new standing offers are valid to September 30, 2007, with a possible extension to September 30, 2008. Carmanah is the only supplier to the CCG for solar LED marine lanterns with 1.5, 2 and 3 nautical miles of visibility.

Nova Scotia purchasing new MRIs

The Nova Scotia Department of Health posted a request for proposals for five 1.5 Tesla MRI scanners, which are considered the top-of-the-line, on September 1. A provincial steering committee, including representatives from most of the province’s nine health districts, the IWK Health Centre and the Department of Health, is working to ensure consistency in diagnostic services, technology, training and referral processes across Nova Scotia. The new MRI units must be able to work within the province’s picture archiving communications (PAC) system. The successful vendor will be announced by the end of October. The units are intended for Yarmouth, Kentville, Antigonish and New Glasgow and to replace an aging unit in Halifax. Starting with the Capital Health district, the units will be installed in each health district once renovations, human resource plans, and community funding are in place.

Paying tickets online not in line in Ottawa

In September 2005, the City of Ottawa announced that many of the Ottawa’s citizens are choosing not to stand in line to pay their fines for tickets issued under the Provincial Offences Act (POA). Instead over 16 percent have opted for the online channel, paytickets.ca. For a fee of three dollars and less than a minute in time, citizens charged under the POA can pay their fines online, receive confirmation of payment and print off a receipt for the transaction. So far, the City has collected $1 million in fines through paytickets.ca. The POA covers charges under a variety of acts including the Highway Traffic Act, the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, the Liquor License Act, and the Trespass to Property Act. The online payment system is a joint initiative between Teranet Enterprises and RBC Global Services (offers specialized transaction processing services). The underlying technology is Teranet's Unity® system, which can be scaled to fit various government systems and offers transaction management, accounting, billing and processing capabilities. The City of Ottawa rollout was completed in three weeks.

Halton Region offers world class customer service

Halton Region in Ontario retained Service Quality Management Group (SQM) to conduct a telephone survey of 394 customers who had direct contact with the region’s call centre, Access Halton. From January 24 to March 24, 2005, customers were questioned on a range of issues including overall satisfaction when dealing with the call centre, satisfaction when a call was transferred to another department as well as the overall professionalism of the call centre on a series of indicators such as politeness, listening, understanding and call resolution. The region (www.region.halton.on.ca) obtained an overall satisfaction score of 83 percent resulting in a “World Class” designation – only achieved by five percent of the organizations SQM benchmarks. Halton Region was one of the first regional and municipal governments in Canada to establish a single integrated point of telephone contact to its programs and services, which as the survey results demonstrate, has been well received by the residents of the area. In existence for less than five years, Access Halton’s customer service representatives average 20,000 calls per month related to planning and public works, public health, human services and general government services.

Yukon offers vehicle registration renewals online

This past summer, the Yukon government announced that residents could renew their vehicle registration online and pay by credit card. The system accepts Visa, American Express and MasterCard. The new website can be accessed by clicking on "Vehicle Registration Renewal from the Yukon government’s homepage, www.gov.yk.ca, or directly at https://vehicleregistration.gov.yk.ca. New licence plate decals arrive by mail with 5-10 working days.

Ontario proposes conservation measures and smaller power plants

In September 2005, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) proposed energy conservation and a new, small-scale natural gas-fired power plant located in Newmarket as the solution for the growing electricity needs of northern York Region, which includes Aurora, Newmarket, King Township, Whitchurch-Stouffville and East and West Gwillimbury. In the past, Ontario would have built another large centralized power plant (e.g., Darlington nuclear station, Nanticoke coal plant) and used high-voltage transmission lines to deliver the needed electricity. Local leadership, both from elected officials and the electric utilities (Newmarket Hydro, PowerStream and Hydro One) will be key to the success of OPA’s new conservation strategy. Measures such as ensuring that new homes are built to the ENERGY STAR standard (40 percent more energy efficient than those built to minimum Ontario building code standards) and that there are programs in place to help residents and businesses exchange old appliances for more energy efficient models would support the OPA strategy. More information can be found at www.powerauthority.on.ca under “York Region Electricity Supply.”

New CFB Gagetown barracks to meet green building standards

In September 2005, the Department of National Defence (DND) awarded a $17.2 million contract to Maxim 2000 of Saint John, NB for the construction of a living quarters complex (barracks) for soldiers who are training at CFB Gagetown, NB.

The new, four-floor barrack block has been designed to a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDS) silver standard. The barracks have also met Federal House in Order (the Government of Canada’s initiative for reducing greenhouse gas emissions within its own operations) criteria for green building design. DND has received $837,000 in grants from the initiative for the implementation of features to reduce greenhouse gas emission and energy consumption. The building will contain 247 rooms, each with a double bed, built-in desk, kitchenette (mini-fridge, microwave and sink), en suite washroom with shower, and Internet access. In addition to the bedrooms, there will be common lounges and laundry facilities on each level. The building will also house the office for base accommodations and additional offices to assist those arriving at CFB Gagetown. Construction should begin this fall and will be completed in late 2006.

Alberta supports Lethbridge College renovation project

The Government of Alberta has allocated more than $7 million for Lethbridge Community College to undertake a major renovation and restoration to the Cousins Building – replacing windows, flooring and ceilings; upgrading the insulation, mechanical and electrical systems; and consolidating all of the science laboratories into the renovated building. Construction is planned to start in May 2006.

Ethics and procurement in the Toronto - MFP leasing contract

In case the role ethics plays in procurement is in any doubt, a read of the recently released report on the inquiry into the computer-leasing contract between MFP Financial Services and the City of Toronto should help put that doubt to rest.

Justice Denise Bellamy, the judge appointed to investigate how a $40-million computer contract between the city and MFP ballooned to over $100 million, released her report (www.torontoingquiry.ca) in mid- September after nearly three years of public hearings. Justice Bellamy was highly critical of the conduct of various city staff as they developed and executed the contract.

The City of Toronto initiated the investigation and has been addressing the issues that became apparent over the last three years by establishing more rigorous internal management controls to improve purchasing processes, management of consulting contracts and human resources management, and reviewing administrative internal controls.

According to a statement released by City Manager Shirley Hoy, available at www.city.toronto.on.ca/city_manager/computerleasinginquiry.htm, the city will continue to improve its processes looking to Justice Bellamy’s report for guidance. Much of the report and the actions being taken by the city involve ethical procurement practices. Below is an excerpt from Ms. Hoy’s statement following the release of the Bellamy report.

“Since the Inquiry began in September 2002, the City introduced an independent Auditor General and an internal audit function. These two new functions have done a great deal to support the implementation of City policy and procedures, increase accountability and improve the manner in which city business is conducted.

Over 100 of Justice Bellamy's recommendations concern procurement processes at the City. The recommendations of Justice Bellamy fit well with the work that has been undertaken by City staff to respond to the recommendations of the City's Auditor General that were made previously.

Procurement processes have been reviewed and changes implemented to ensure that all vendors have the best possible access to City business and that the City gets the best possible value for money.

In March, 2005 staff submitted a report to the Policy and Finance Committee which served to clarify the roles and responsibilities of staff and elected officials in the procurement process.

In keeping with the research paper from the good governance phase of the inquiry, staff advised that elected officials should separate themselves from the procurement process and rely on professional staff working within approved procurement policies and processes.

The City's Integrity Commissioner concurred with staff's recommendations and Justice Bellamy's recommendations support this approach.

Rarely does any single major procurement not also impact several areas of City service. The new structure will ensure a collaborative approach between city divisions and enhance accountability. The Deputy City Managers, along with Internal Audit are now accountable for spot audits of major programs to ensure compliance with purchasing requirements.

The City also employs a fairness commissioner on major projects to review specific procurement practices related to large projects to ensure that the process has been conducted in a fair and impartial manner.

While many of Justice Bellamy's recommendations related to procurement are currently being implemented the inquiry has sped the pace of change and the recommendations will help to ensure that improvements continue.”

Ontario beefs up green energy sources

In response to its second request for proposals (RFP) for clean, green power, in mid September the Ontario government announced it had received 22 proposals for a total of 2,029 megawatts The RFP sought up to 1,000 megawatts of renewable power from large-scale projects of at least 20 megawatts in size, enough power for 200,000 homes.

An evaluation team, whose members were selected from Ontario government ministries, the Ontario Energy Board and the Independent Electricity System Operator, are reviewing the proposals. An independent fairness commissioner is overseeing the evaluation process. It is expected that successful projects could be announced before the end of the year.

A third request for proposals, announced in July (www.ontarioelectricityrfp.ca), seeks up to 200 megawatts of power from small and medium-sized renewable projects of less than 20 megawatts. Expected to provide enough power for 20,000 homes, projects from this RFP could include wind, water, solar, biomass and landfill gas projects. The Ontario government has committed to five percent of the province’s total energy capacity coming from renewable sources by 2007, and 10 percent by 2010.

Clean up begins at Sydney Tar Ponds

The Sydney Tar Ponds (www.tarpondscleanup.ca) could be considered one of Canada’s worst toxic waste sites in need of remediation. Work is underway to effect the clean up (See Summit, September 2005, “Laying waste to toxic waste”). In late August, marking the beginning of the clean up, RDL Construction Ltd. of Sydney, NS won a $6.3-million contract to begin the immediate construction of two new channels – as recommended in an engineering report by ADI Limited, the project managers – for Coke Ovens Brook, which will greatly reduce the flow of contaminants into the Tar Ponds. The meandering of Coke Ovens Brook through the site provides a path for leachate to reach the Tar Ponds. Part of the relocated south branch will be piped underground, and portions of both branches will be lined with synthetic material or clay to prevent recontamination. Major sections of the new channels include measures to restore fish habitat.

The Ottawa Hospital launches an instrument tracking system

For many hospitals, managing the inventory of instruments and tracking them through sterilization cycles is a manual process prone to error and possibly leading to cross-infections. The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) has implemented an instrument tracking system – Alex Gold, developed by Indiana-based TGX Medical Systems Inc – to automate this process across its three campuses.

Sterilization technicians assemble sets of instruments on a tray based on the type of procedure being performed on a patient. Once used, the instruments go to a decontamination area to be cleaned, sterilized, reassembled into sets, and then on to sterile storage areas for reuse. Tracking which instruments were used on which patient meant chasing down the paperwork that had been completed by time-pressed hospital staff.

Before implementing Alex Gold, the hospital had to complete a full inventory of its instruments. This data was then loaded into a database along with cleaning and sterilization instructions, which were different not only for each instrument, but different depending on the manufacturer. The instruments were bar-coded with heat resistant strips so that every step of the use, sterilization and storage cycle could be tracked. Sterilization technicians were then trained in the new process.

With Alex in place, the hospital now has a method to budget and track maintenance costs of the instruments. Alex will flag sets that should be sent out for maintenance. The software system also lets the hospital monitor the actual volume of items being processed and the associated time and labour costs, allowing TOH to better determine appropriate staffing levels.

Promoting procurement professionalism at the federal government

On September 28, Blair James, executive director, Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) Program Management Office announced that TBS “recognizes the Materiel Management Institute (MMI) as the professional institute that provides professional development opportunities in support of the Federal Government Professional Development and Certification Program (PDCP) for procurement and materiel management functional specialists…. For the past few years, the pre-workshops offered at the Materiel Management National and Regional Workshops have been recognized by the PDCP. MMI’s most recent professional development initiative, the “Across Canada Training Sessions” offers one-day workshops that are also recognized by the PDCP.”

James also confirmed that, for individuals applying for certification, three of the workshops would be mandatory:

  • Overview of Procurement for Materiel and Real Property,
  • Real Property: An Overview for Procurement and Materiel Managers, and
  • Limitation of Liability (LOL)

These overview courses are required for Level I certification and LOL is one of the courses required for Level II certification. The requirements and more information on the application process for certification will be provided when the program is officially launched later this fall.

Check the Summit calendar to find a list of courses being offered by the MMI this fall.

Nova Scotia seeks to find and protect its archeological sites

Nova Scotia announced in early September that it will invest $13,300 in new mapping technologies to identify areas with a high likelihood for archeological remains pre-dating European settlement in the 1600s. The new technology supports the province’s Special Places Protection Act, which protects archeological sites and remains. Currently there are roughly 1,400 sites in Nova Scotia.

Based on Nova Scotia’s specific conditions and settlement patterns, the software will search colour digital maps that indicate ideal conditions for a settlement, such as nearness to drinking water and transportation corridors. The new technology will aid planning agencies and developers to identify areas of high potential for archeological sites and help them prevent accidental damage, potential delays and additional project costs.

New super-vac sucks up litter in Halifax

Following a parade in early September 2005, Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) staff demonstrated a new all-terrain litter vacuum capable of picking up glass, metal, plastic, cardboard and other wet or dry waste. The wide-tired vehicle can vacuum an area roughly football field size in half an hour – coverage rate per hour is 105, 600 cubic feet or 9,810 square metres. Its 15-foot extension hose can reach under benches, near building entrances and other inaccessible areas. Its filtered collection bag should reduce dust around sidewalk cafes, restaurants and pedestrian ways. It is easy to manoeuver and can vacuum around light posts, newspaper racks, and other obstacles on sidewalks or in parks, and it comes with power/tilt steering and a standard roll-over protection system to protect the operator. The vehicle cost $44,000, not including tax.

Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and five US partners study tidal power potential

The powerful tidal bore at Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy has amazed tourists worldwide. But now the tides, tapped into by new technology, may mean another renewable energy source. Nova Scotia has committed to five percent of the province’s electricity supply coming from renewable resource generating capacity built after 2001.

The Electric Power Research Institute of Palo Alto, California, will conduct the $425,000 feasibility study on using tidal flow generators in the bay. The newest tidal power turbines look much like wind turbines and use fast-moving tidal currents to create electricity. The stand-alone turbines are submerged in the water, anchored on the seabed.

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick will each contribute US$60,000 for the study; Maine, Massachusetts, Washington State, Alaska, and San Francisco are also taking part. All study data will be shared among all study partners in the hope of determining (by March 2006) whether investment in tidal in-stream energy conversion technology makes sense. Nova Scotia Power already has one of three tidal power plants in the world at its Annapolis Power Tidal facility.

Ottawa police move to e-ticketing

As of August 18, 2005 the Ottawa Police Service, (OPS) were no longer hand writing tickets for traffic violations. About 45 of the city’s motorcycle traffic officers were equipped MC50 handheld devices from Symbol Technologies that use applications from Florida-based Advanced Public Safety (APS). According to Rock Lavigne, staff sergeant and e-ticketing operational project manager for the OPS, there was a lot of human error that occurred with the handwritten tickets that could be corrected by automation. Not only does e-ticketing reduce human error and the number of tickets thrown out of court due to errors or illegibility, but it also reduces the repetitive work on the part of officers and the clerks responsible for entering all the traffic tickets issued into the OPS database and for those entering the same data again into the court system – further increasing the potential for errors. Now the officer will swipe the driver’s licence on the handheld, which will auto-populate the driver’s name, address, etc.into the software and, from drop-down boxes, the officer will enter the car information, location and violation. Then the information is sent to a portable wireless printer, which prints three copies of the ticket: the fourth, which was the officer’s copy is no longer required.

Note: Halifax has also gone the e-ticket route this summer. See Halifax Regional Municipality moves to e-ticketing, a special online feature article at www.summitconnects.com.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada invests in clean hydrogen technology

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) is a federal foundation that promotes technology development with commercial potential with contributions that help to leverage further funds. In late September 2005, SDTC contributed $2 million of a $6 million project, to a Canadian consortium led by Atlantic Hydrogen Inc. (AHI) of Fredericton, New Brunswick. The consortium will develop and demonstrate a technology to produce hydrogen and remove solid carbon from natural gas without releasing harmful greenhouse gases – a project estimated to take about three years. The successful transition to a hydrogen economy may depend on extracting hydrogen from fossil fuels using more environmentally sensitive processes.

According the SDTC’s news release, SDTC’s “support has been leveraged by a contribution of $4 million from private consortium members including the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in Fredericton, Energy Reaction Inc. of Montreal, PrecisionH2 Power Inc. of Montreal, the Canadian energy firm Enbridge Inc. and Hydrogen Engine Centre of Iowa.

AHI’s, the CarbonSaverTM, will be the front end of an integrated system that includes a specially designed internal combustion engine coupled with an electrical generator and power-conditioning device. It will feed hydrogen-rich natural gas to internal combustion engines that generate electricity. At the same time, it removes the carbon from the natural gas in a solid form rather than releasing it into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. The CarbonSaverTM research is being conducted under contract to the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.

Bathurst, New Brunswick consolidates three schools into one

The Government of New Brunswick has awarded the tender (contract is $5.6 million) for the final phase of the construction of a new elementary school in Bathurst to Springhill Construction Ltd. of Fredericton, who submitted the lowest bid. The contract involves the installation of foundations and steel, completing the exterior and interior of the building and the final site work. Construction of the new school, which will replace three older schools, has been a multi-year project totaling $8.5 million. It will house about 475 children in grades 1-5. The new school will have 18 classrooms, a resource centre, a music room, a gymnasium and a cafeteria as well as new outdoor playing fields. It should be ready to open in September 2006.

Unmanned aerial vehicles tested as fire fighting tool

In April 2004, Summit magazine published an article on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and their potential for meeting the needs of various public sector programs (See Good for the Goose). This past summer, the US Forest Service experimented with three UAVs equipped with heat detecting sensors and 12-foot wingspans, and could fly as low as 1,000 feet to see whether UAVs would be valuable in monitoring forest fire activity. The result is that next spring, UAVs, specially equipped with thermal sensors, will over-fly several western states, mapping forest fires 24 hours per day, replacing the manned flights that could only operate in daylight hours. The UAVs, which look like test-kit airplanes, are controlled by a pilot on the ground and will relay data via antenna or satellite. While being efficient at detecting fires, the current crop of UAVs cannot help put out fires as they are not large enough to hold water tanks. The UAVs may not be deployed in civilian airspace alongside commercial or military aircraft without the prior approval of the US Federal Aviation Administration.

United States tests radio tags at Canadian border

United States officials are testing radio frequency identification system (RFID) technology at a handful of border crossings to see if the technology can be used to track foreigners who enter the country. P.T. Wright, operations director for the US Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT Program, says the technology is similar to the technology that is used to ensure quick passage at many highway toll booths. The testing of the technology began in early August [2005] at the Thousand Islands Bridge, which connects Canada and the United States. The testing is also being conducted at a pair of border crossings in Washington State and another pair of crossings in Arizona. The testing is part of the US-VISIT program, which uses fingerprints and photographs to confirm the identity of foreigners crossing the US border. The RFID system works by using radio tags embedded into documents that foreigners present when they enter or exit the United States. At border crossing points, antennas read the tags for coded and secure serial numbers, and the antennas are capable of reading multiple tags at the same time at a distance of 30 feet or less. Officials envision the possibility of a streamlined system in which the tags are flashed by travelers crossing the border at highway speeds.

Source: www.govpro.com/Newsletters/Images/082305_govpro_ftp.htm and the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC).

Newfoundland home building technology finds a market in Iceland

In mid August 2005, Newfoundland and Labrador building products and technology were honoured at the official opening of a model home in Selfoss, Iceland The model home was constructed by Icelandic contractor SG-Hus and is the first in Iceland to be registered as a Super E® home. Super E® members construct high-quality, energy-efficient homes to the Super E® standard, which is based upon the Canadian R-2000 standard and adapted for local climates. Each Super E® home is registered, tested and recognized by the Government of Canada with a certificate of recognition. Super E® members comprise partnerships between Canadian exporters and builders in export markets.

The Eastern Newfoundland Home Builders’ Association (ENHBA) coordinated this model home initiative, which was the result of ENHBA and provincial and federal representatives attending a home building trade show in Iceland. They identified a strong level of interest in Newfoundland and Labrador building products and services and in joint venturing. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) has been involved for the past few years, and is investing $172,545 towards the marketing and promotion of the model home and the local building products used for its construction. Other partners include: Industry Canada, International Trade Canada (Canadian Embassy in Iceland), Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Natural Resources Canada.

Because timber has to be imported, in Iceland concrete is often used for home construction. The model home, which demonstrates Canadian housing technologies, shows Icelanders the benefits of timber frame home construction, such as its excellent quality, faster construction, lower cost and energy efficiency.

DND continues remediation of Goose Bay site

In its continuing efforts to establish the remediation requirements for 5 Wing Goose Bay in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Labrador, the Department of National Defence (DND) has awarded a $3 million two-year standing offer agreement to AMEC Earth and Environmental Inc. of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia to continue environmental investigations. Contamination at this site resulted from leaking tanks and pipelines, both above and below ground, past waste disposal practices and normal activities taking place over 60 years of operation. A comprehensive remediation strategy, to be developed by AMEC by fall 2008, will allow DND to establish the next steps for proper remediation to reduce and/or eliminate the risks posed to human health and the environment. The standing offer agreement includes two one-year options for extension valued at up to $1.5 million each.

Summer sees work on Yukon roads and infrastructure

The Yukon departments of Highways and Public Works and Community Services have provided plenty of work over the summer, awarding over $3.3 million in contracts for various highway and infrastructure projects:

  • 32763 Yukon Inc. performed spot repairs on the Top of the World Highway. Contract valued at $212,000.
  • Skookum Asphalt Inc. of Whitehorse supplied ‘cold mix’ for highway surface repair at various locations on the Alaska Highway. Contract valued at $335,000.
  • Summit Aggregates Inc., was awarded two contracts to produce and stockpile aggregate on the Dempster and Alaska highways. Contracts valued at $725,000 and $514,000.
  • Keith’s Plumbing and Heating upgraded the heating, ventilation and air conditioning at Jack Hulland School in Porter Creek, resulting in better quality air and increased energy efficiency. Contract valued at $398,000.
  • Sidhu Trucking Ltd. constructed a new sewage treatment and disposal facility at Burwash Landing, replacing one that was built in 1968. Contract valued at $978,000, awarded by Community Services.
  • Sidhu Trucking Ltd resurfaced the Beaver Creek airport runway in a project that involved a test application of a new dust suppressant known as EK-35. During the next three years, information will be gathered at Beaver Creek Airport to see how well EK-35 controls dust and prevents damage to aircraft propellers. Contract valued at $178,000.

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