Aboriginal centre designed with traditions in mind

November 15, 2013


The new aboriginal centre at Carleton University can accommodate social, cultural and ceremonial events. The space overlooks a widely travelled section of the university campus. The centre was designed by Douglas Cardinal.

Aboriginal centre designed with traditions in mind


staff writer

An aboriginal centre, designed by Ottawa-based architect Douglas Cardinal with aboriginal cultures and traditions in mind, has opened at Carleton University.

Located in Paterson Hall, the new 1,850-square-foot facility features a series of circular spaces. Circles are a common theme in aboriginal communities.

The largest circle is a gathering space that will be used for social, cultural and ceremonial events. A set of four smaller circular structures will provide a computer lab, as well as work and study spaces for students. A kitchen is also included in the design to facilitate food sharing.

“All of these circles are joined together organically,” Cardinal said via e-mail. “The circles symbolize the respect for each individual that sits in the circle. It also reminds us of the circle of life; we are born and then we die, and life is reborn again.

“The progress of our lives and of nature is a circle. This powerful shape also signifies the sun, the moon and the planets that go around; it’s a symbol of all life.”

Cardinal, who is of Metis and Blackfoot heritage, also designed the iconic Gordon Oakes-Red Bear Student Centre currently under construction at the University of Saskatchewan. That centre also is intended as a vibrant and inclusive gathering space that welcomes everyone, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike.

Cardinal said this type of project is “near and dear” to his heart.

“I feel it is very important that we recognize the contribution of our indigenous people and the belief that all the races and people of the land should gather together in a circle of peace and harmony.”

The new centre at Carleton is significantly larger than the existing aboriginal lounge.

Built by R.H. Hein Construction, the centre will be a hub for more than 500 aboriginal students and faculty, as well as elders and non-aboriginal members of the Carleton community.

The centre is called Ojigkwanong, which means morning star in Algonquin.

The centre was initially proposed by a task force on aboriginal affairs, comprised of Carleton faculty, staff, students and community members. Members of the Carleton community gave their input into what the centre might look like before the project was handed over to Cardinal.

“I think it’s really tremendous that this is happening here,” Geraldine King, a fourth-year Carleton student in Canadian studies said in a release issued by the university.

“This bigger, more flowing, beautiful and organic space was needed because of the growing size of the aboriginal community here at Carleton. This really was a collaborative effort.”

For its part, the university has adopted an aboriginal strategy that defines the fundamental values governing its relationships with aboriginal peoples and communities.

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November 15, 2013

Monument to honour Canadian soldiers receives funding


Funding of up to $50,000 has been announced to support the construction of a new monument in Toronto to honour Canadian soldiers who took part in the Italian Campaign during the Second World War.

“In 1943, Canadian soldiers landed in Italy where they played a vital role in the bitter campaign there until February 1945,” said Minister of Veterans Affairs Julian Fantino.

“These brave men faced difficult battles as they fought for the same peace and freedoms our men and women continue to defend today. It is our responsibility as Canadians to honour their sacrifices, and to show our thanks and appreciation for all they have done.”

Villa Charities Inc. will construct the Peace Through Valour monument to commemorate Canadian Veterans of the Italian Campaign. Funding for the project is provided through the Community War Memorial Program. This project will raise awareness about the Canadian soldiers who fought in the Italian Campaign and ensure their stories and sacrifices will be remembered.

The Italian Campaign was one of the longest and fiercest struggles of the Second World War. Of the more than 93,000 Canadians who served in this campaign, nearly 6,000 laid down their lives.

In 2013, Veterans Affairs Canada has invested just under $1.8 million to help over 170 organizations honour Canada’s veterans. Twenty-five new memorials are being constructed with Community War Memorial Program contributions of up to $797,468 and 36 memorial restoration projects are underway thanks to Cenotaph/Monument Restoration Program funding of up to $393,322.


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November 14, 2013

Quebec hiring keeps unemployment rate holding steady at 6.9 per cent


Canada’s economy added about 13,200 jobs last month, thanks to an outsized gain in Quebec that helped keep the national unemployment rate at a post-recession low of 6.9 per cent for a second month.

The overall job creation number, which offset some of Quebec’s gains with losses in Ontario and other provinces, was consistent with an economy that is expanding, but at a slow pace.

Most encouraging was that the unemployment rate stayed at the lowest level it has been since before the deep 2008-09 recession, and that it managed to achieve the feat without a drop in the labour force.

But overall, the details of October’s labour force report were rather mixed.

On the strong side, there were 25,200 more full-time employees during the month, and the number of self-employed Canadians fell. On the soft side, the private sector laid of 22,100 jobs, while the gains — 47,300 — came in the public sector.

Regionally, the big surprise came in Quebec, which added 34,100 new workers, the vast majority coming in the accommodation and food service industries.

Statistics Canada offered no explanation for what appeared to be an anomaly in what otherwise would have been considered a steady labour market report.

Partially offsetting Quebec’s increase, Ontario shed 14,700 jobs. There were also small employment declines in British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

October’s minor jobs uptick brings total job creation over the past year to 214,000, about the level of employment increase that economists believe is necessary to keep up with population and labour force expansion.

By sector, accommodation and food services added about 30,000 workers in October, while employment in health care and social assistance rose by 20,000 and by an almost equal amount in the public administration industry.

Meanwhile, employment in the business, building and other support services fell by 33,000 and both manufacturing and construction continued to struggle with minor declines in employment.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2013

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November 13, 2013

Asbestos registry proclaimed as law at Saskatchewan Legislature

The Saskatchewan government has marked the death of a man who advocated for asbestos safety by officially enacting a new law making asbestos reporting mandatory.

The law will require Crown corporations, school districts, health regions and the provincial government to ensure their buildings are listed on the province’s on-line registry if there is asbestos present anywhere in their facilities.

The law is named for Howard Willems, who died a year ago of cancer caused by inhaling asbestos, while on his job as a federal food inspector.

“We’re the first (province) in Canada that has mandated a registry and the first one that has brought it up,’’ said Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan.

He gave Willems the credit for making it happen. Willems spent years inspecting old dairy and honey facilities, which often used asbestos in building materials.

Before his death, he formed the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, aiming to have the government create a public registry of buildings with asbestos in them. On the anniversary of his stepfather’s death, Jesse Todd was there to see the new measure proclaimed.

“It’s a tremendous day,’’ he said. “It’s very gratifying to see it pass. It’s been a long year.’’

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2013

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Sprucing up Montreal’s “ice bridge”

November 12, 2013


The new linear railings on Montreal’s “ice bridge” which has undergone repairs.

Sprucing up Montreal’s “ice bridge”



Repairs are about to wrap up on one of North America’s rare bridges, the so-called “Ice Control Structure” that spans the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and its South Shore suburbs.

The bridge lies 305 metres upstream, or west, of the well-known Champlain Bridge — Canada’s busiest bridge for vehicular traffic — which is scheduled for replacement early in the next decade.

It was built for $18 million, almost at the same time as the Champlain, opening three years later in 1965.

The reason the two-kilometre bridge was built was to prevent ice build-up on the artificial islands that were constructed to host Expo 67 and subsequently The Man and His World yearly exhibition.

It also has some subsidiary roles such as to decrease the size of open water areas where new ice is formed and to control spring ice breakup.

But unlike the salt-corroded Champlain, which has been undergoing remedial work to maintain the bridge until a replacement structure is built — the “ice bridge” (as its colloquially known), due to its largely non-vehicular use, is in great shape, at least as pertains to its 72 pre-stressed concrete piers, two abutments and deck.

In terms of the four bridges spanning the St. Lawrence — the Champlain, Jacques Cartier and Mercier — the ice bridge is definitely the little brother and probably least noticeable to the millions of commuters a year who use the City of Montreal’s bridges. Unless, that is, you happen to be a jogger or a cyclist, and increasingly, a Champlain Bridge construction crew, driving along its 8.5-metre width deck to get to a work station on a dike that lies below both bridges.

Nevertheless the crown corporation that oversees the city’s bridges realized that some surface structural work was required to bring the bridge up to code and to make it friendlier to the increasing number of people who use it. So a $4.9 million contract was awarded to well-known South Shore contractor Loiselle Groupe. They were charged with painting new markings on the roadway — which includes a vehicle lane and adjacent two-way cycling/walking path — and to replace the aged tubular guard rails that look like something designed by a 1960s-era pop artist. The lighting system, which was out of commission for years, was reactivated and had new LED lights installed back in 2001 when the bridge was revitalized for cyclists and runners. That contract cost $311,896.

“The railings were the original design of the early 1960s but today they are not in conformance with today’s S6 code,” said Steve Tselios, senior director of engineering for the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc. (PJCCI). The old version measured 927 mm in height and the new one is 1,200 mm, a 273 mm difference.

There was also corrosion at the concrete base, which posed a “structural issue,” Tselios said.

Concrete anchors and rusted bolts were removed. In their place Loiselle installed new rebar and footings and then attached the new railing, a sectional grid pattern with four linear steel bars.

The contactor, working day shifts, removed the old railing, installed temporary Jersey barriers for protection, and work progressed in sections — first the upstream side and then the downstream back to Montreal, with the entire job due to finish this month.

“So as the contractor gets his material delivered he removes and installs and continues leapfrogging,” Tselios said.

Work was pretty straightforward and the only challenge, if any, was ensuring traffic could move while the project was underway.

“You’ve still got cyclists going back and forth throughout the entire summer period, and you also have some contractors going to access the other side to work on the Champlain Bridge,” he said.

“From my understanding there have been no issues or accidents that I’m aware of but that basically was the challenge.”

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Control of union’s construction wing under scrutiny

November 11, 2013

Control of union’s construction wing under scrutiny

A former union boss with ties to shady crime figures is denying he allowed the Mob and criminal bikers to infiltrate one of Quebec’s most powerful labour organizations.

Jocelyn Dupuis said they weren’t running the Quebec Federation of Labour’s construction wing during his time as its director.

Dupuis insists he wasn’t an intermediary between mobsters and bikers and the union’s investment wing, he was just trying to help people get ahead in life.

He testified at Quebec’s corruption inquiry that he didn’t realize he was involved with organized crime figures.

Dupuis said he knew Raynald Desjardins had previous convictions for drugs, but that he didn’t know about his Mob ties.

Desjardins is a former Rizzuto lieutenant currently incarcerated pending his first-degree murder trial in the slaying of a New York Mob boss near Montreal.

Dupuis admitted keeping Desjardins’ name out of a pitch for cash from the union’s solidarity fund when he pushed for a company called Carboneutre, a decontamination firm owned by Desjardins and another man with Mob ties.

Dupuis said his only interest was in rehabilitating people like Desjardins and giving them a chance to get back on their feet by working in the construction industry.

Commission chair France Charbonneau wondered how Dupuis couldn’t know about Desjardins’ ties to organized crime, given the media coverage surrounding his ties to the Rizzuto family.

Dupuis has been inundated during his three days on the stand by wiretap conversations between himself and various people with close ties to organized crime, such as the Hells Angels biker gangs.

He said he hid Desjardins’ identity from the fund members and outgoing FTQ president Michel Arsenault because he didn’t think they’d agree to fund the firm considering Desjardins’ criminal record.

The fund never did invest in Carboneutre.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2013

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November 8, 2013

Housing starts should remain stable going into next year, says CMHC outlook


Total housing starts are expected to be stable in 2014, as fundamentals like employment growth and migration continue to support the Canadian housing market, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) fourth quarter 2013 Housing Market Outlook, Canada Edition.

“In the new home market, builders are nevertheless expected to limit the number of housing starts while inventories of unabsorbed units, completed and under construction, are drawn down,” said Mathieu Laberge, deputy chief economist for CMHC.

On an annual basis, housing starts are expected to range between 179,300 to 190,600 units in 2013, with a point forecast of 185,000 units, down from 214,827 units in 2012. In 2014, housing starts are expected to range from 163,700 to 205,700 units, with a point forecast of 184,700 units.

Multiple Listing Service sales are expected to range between 439,400 to 474,000 units in 2013, with a point forecast of 456,700 units, about equal with the 454,005 in 2012. In 2014, sales are expected to range from 438,300 to 498,100 units, with an increase in the point forecast to 468,200 units.

The average MLS price is forecast to be between $372,300 and $383,700 in 2013 and between $374,100 and $396,300 in 2014. CMHC’s point forecast for the average MLS price calls for a 4.0 per cent gain to $378,000 in 2013 and a further 1.9 per cent gain to $385,200 in 2014.

“In the resale market, home buyers have been motivated to advance their purchases and lock-in pre-qualified mortgages given the recent moderate increase in mortgage rates. It is expected that existing home sales will increase modestly in 2014 with improving economic conditions,” said Laberge.


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New Canada-EU free trade pact on CCA radar

November 8, 2013

New Canada-EU free trade pact on CCA radar


staff writer

Although a formal agreement remains to be concluded, trade associations in the construction and engineering sectors are taking a look at provisions of a historic free trade pact recently negotiated between Canada and the European Union (EU).

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Oct. 18 in Brussels that agreement in principle had been reached on a comprehensive agreement intended to significantly boost trade and investment between the two partners.

Deemed the most ambitious such pact that Canada has ever negotiated, the proposed agreement covers most aspects of the Canada-EU bilateral relationship, including trade in goods and services, investment and government procurement.

Canadian Construction Association (CCA) president Michael Atkinson said his organization is looking at the potential impact “if any” on the domestic construction market. CCA has confirmed that the deal, once ratified, will apply to procurement by provincial and municipal governments on contracts above certain thresholds.

“We have been informed that the threshold (on construction contracts) will be $7.8 million,” he said. “That would mean that on such contracts, you would have to treat European companies bidding for work no differently than you would treat Canadian companies.”

However, by the same token, Atkinson said he would be “hard pressed” to cite any current examples of discrimination against European firms on larger provincial or municipal contracts.

On the flip side, European governments would be required to treat Canadian contractors the same as European contractors, when bidding projects of an equivalent value denominated in Euros or other EU country currencies.

“That said, I don’t see Canadian contractors rushing off to Europe to bid work,” Atkinson said.

Bill Ferreira, the CCA’s director of government relations and government affairs, said the association has also confirmed that the performance security methodology currently being utilized by tendering authorities will continue to prevail once the agreement comes into force.

“If bonding is a requirement for Ontario municipalities, for example, then bonding will continue to be required,” he said.

“If a tendering authority in Europe requires letters of credit, that will remain the case.”

While Canadian contractors have not been active in Europe to date, Ferreira speculated that the trade deal could spark interest in pursuing contracts in the United Kingdom, given a similar language and legal structure.

“But the devil is in the details, and we haven’t seen the details yet,” he said.

“Until we see the details, it’s difficult to comment.”

The trade agreement has also caught the attention of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada. President John Gamble said his organization will be looking “very closely” at the implications for municipal procurement.

“We also intend to speak to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to see what their take is on this,” he said.

In a statement posted on its website, FCM president Claude Dauphin said the Oct. 18 announcement shows that the voice of Canada’s local governments “has been heard and respected in trade negotiations with Europe and opens the door to a much stronger economic partnership between the federal government and Canada’s cities and communities.”

Now that agreement in principle has been reached, both parties will seek to conclude the formal agreement and undertake a legal review of the document. Once the final agreement is signed, it will then need to be ratified by respective parliaments.

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November 8, 2013

Google construction in San Francisco Bay a mystery for most

Government inspectors sworn to secrecy on four-storey structure being built by Internet giant


San Francisco’s mayor says he doesn’t know what it is. Police say it’s not their jurisdiction. And government inspectors are sworn to secrecy.

Google is erecting a four-storey structure in the heart of the San Francisco Bay but is managing to conceal its purpose by constructing it on docked barges instead of on land, where city building permits and public plans are mandatory. Construction became obvious a few weeks ago.

The Internet giant’s actions at Treasure Island appear legal. But the mystery surrounding the bulky floating building, and a similar one off Portland, Maine, is generating rumours and worries.

Privacy experts, environmentalists and legal authorities say that whether it is a store to sell Google’s Internet-connected glasses, a data storage centre or something else, the secrecy may backfire because Silicon Valley residents are highly protective of one of the most scenic and environmentally sensitive bays in the U.S.

“At some point they’re going to have to unveil what it is they’re doing, and it will be sad if they have put a lot of money into something that is simply not allowable in the bay,” said Deb Self, executive director of the environmental group Baykeeper.

Self said whether the barge-mounted structure is a store, as is widely rumoured, or a data centre powered by wave action, for which Google has a patent, there are going to be grave concerns.

“We don’t really want to see the bay used as a shopping mall. Unacceptable,” she said. And environmentalists warn that water-cooled data centres might warm the sea and harm marine life.

Google’s usually responsive media relations team did not respond to repeated calls or emails over several days, but records and other official accounts identify the project as Google’s.

Google has dodged public scrutiny by essentially constructing a vessel, not a building. Thus it doesn’t need permits from San Francisco, a city with copious inspection and paperwork requirements for builders.

Google has also avoided the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, a state agency that governs projects on the water and has its own long list of public reviews and permit requirements.

If, when the project’s ready, Google wants to sail it out the Golden Gate and into the Pacific Ocean, the tech giant won’t ever need to explain what it’s been up to.

But if Google wants to do anything with the structure in the bay, it will have to face public scrutiny, said BCDC executive director Larry Goldzband. He said the agency has had a few meetings with Google, but “they’ve been less than specific about their plans.”

“When they decide to let us know what they plan to do with it, or hope to do with it, then we can decide if it’s allowable,” he said.

Work on the barge is kept under wraps, literally. Supplies are kept onshore in hangars rented by a Delaware corporation named By and Large, (a play on the word “barge”?), under a $79,000-per-month lease that expires next August. The name and number for By and Large on the lease led to a man named Mike Darby, who seemed baffled by a call from The Associated Press.

“I’m not sure how my name got on the lease,” he said.

“I have nothing to do with it. I’m in Singapore and it’s the middle of the night.”

A second man on the lease, Kenneth Yi, could not be located.

There is one agency keeping an eye on things: The Coast Guard has been routinely inspecting the two barges on the East and West coasts, as it would any vessel under construction, but spokeswoman Lt. Anna Dixon said she couldn’t talk about what the agency has found, citing nondisclosure agreements with an entity other than Google.

Such agreements, she said, are “not a standard practice” at her agency. She said she didn’t know the name of the entity.

A similar four-storey structure was built this summer in the New London, Conn., harbour, and has now moved north off Maine. The Day newspaper in Connecticut found details tying that barge to Google in documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Santa Clara University law professor Dorothy Glancy said nondisclosure agreements involving inspectors are common for land-bound Silicon Valley construction projects because there are plenty of trade secrets in the clean rooms and laboratories where computer chips are built and technology is developed.

But she said Google might want to take a lesson from another bay-area mystery barge. In the 1970s, billionaire Howard Hughes docked an enormous barge called the Glomar Explorer just off Mountain View, Calif., where Google is now headquartered. Hughes said the Glomar was going to mine manganese from the ocean floor, but in reality it was being used for a top-secret CIA mission to search for nuclear missile codes in sunken Soviet submarines.

“That experience should have told Google that being mysterious like this tends not to build public confidence,” Glancy said.

Privacy advocate Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, said it is ironic that the company that wants to open the world’s information to everyone “so zealously guards its own corporate secrecy.”

“The barge is a perfect metaphor for a company that likes to ask forgiveness for its transgressions rather than permission,” he said.

“It’s also a symbol of how far from mainland values the company is going with Glass and its privacy problems.”


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November 7, 2013

ASHRAE and IAQA team up to promote better indoor air quality


Through a memorandum of understanding, ASHRAE and the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) are working together to promote better indoor air quality in the built environment.

Signed Oct. 15 during an ASHRAE conference in Vancouver, the agreement commits ASHRAE and IAQA to working together in the areas of consistent leadership communication, chapter collaboration, advocacy, technical activities coordination and research.

“As professionals responsible for environmental control of buildings and transportation systems, our first priority must be making those environments safe, healthy, productive and comfortable,” ASHRAE President William Bahnfleth said in a release.

“This partnership between ASHRAE, a worldwide organization with a scope to broadly promote the arts and science of HVAC&R (heating, ventilation, airconditioning and refrigeration) and allied arts and science for the benefit of the general public, and IAQA, an organization focused on services to ensure good indoor air quality, will enhance the ability of both to achieve their shared goals.

“We welcome the opportunity to combine the resources of ASHRAE with the expertise of IAQA to strengthen our effectiveness in this critical area.”

IAQA President Donald M. Weekes said the agreement “is a great step forward” for both his organization and the indoor air quality field. Founded in 1998, the IAQA is dedicated to bringing practitioners together to prevent and solve indoor environmental problems for the benefit of customers and the public.


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