Update on Legionella bacteria in Place du Portage

On May 1, 2015, a regular maintenance check of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at Portage III, in Gatineau, was conducted. On May 11, 2015, Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions, the real property management provider, received the results of these tests, showing the presence of Legionella bacteria above acceptable levels in the cooling tower. As soon as these results were known, on May 11, 2015, the cooling tower was immediately shut down and the equipment was disinfected. Brookfield informed Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) of the issue on the afternoon of May 12, 2015.

On May 14, 2015, Health Canada reviewed the steps taken by PWGSC and consequently confirmed that the cooling tower could be put back into service.

Additional precautionary Legionella testing on the Portage III cooling tower, where the elevated levels of bacteria were first discovered, has been completed. Those test results indicate that bacteria levels are low and below the PWGSC Legionella standard and Quebec regulation. PWGSC has notified the appropriate federal, provincial and municipal authorities.

The testing that detected the Legionella bacteria in Portage III is part of PWGSC's ongoing efforts to control bacteria in buildings. Bacteria tests are conducted once a week and culture tests are conducted once a month in all buildings that are part of PWGSC’s portfolio.

PWGSC has policies and practices in place to control bacterial growth in PWGSC-owned buildings. They are based on federal requirements and those of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers:

  • The Real Property Services' Facility Maintenance Policy requires preventive maintenance that includes the inspection, testing and cleaning of mechanical systems.
  • PWGSC's Legionella standard, MD 15161—Control of Legionella in Mechanical Systems, provides requirements for proper design, maintenance, operation and bacterial testing to prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria.

Should you have further questions, please contact the Media Relations Unit at 819-956-2315 or at media@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca.