Status update: Les Terrasses de la Chaudière

February 18, 2020
(updated August 6, 2020)

The health and safety of occupants and visitors in our federal buildings is our key priority. That is why we are fully focussed on the concerns raised by occupants of Les Terrasses de la Chaudière (LTDLC) complex.

The last few months have brought much change in how most public servants perform their work in the federal government, and many of us have faced work situations we had never experienced before. We would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that, while most of you transitioned to teleworking, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has not wavered in our commitment to provide you with a modern and safe workplace, and to follow through on all the engagements we made during the February 25, 2020 townhall.

As the pandemic reduced LTDLC’s occupancy, we took every opportunity to accelerate and complete projects to provide you with a safe and positive work environment as you return to your workplace. As an example, we accelerated the modernization of 4 floors, which are anticipated to be completed in fall/winter 2020.

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Supporting your health and safety as you gradually return to the workplace

PSPC has been working closely with Health Canada (HC), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS), and industry leaders, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, to keep those of you who remained at work in a safe environment, while also preparing and implementing the most appropriate practices and measures to ensure your safety when you are ready to return to your workplace.

Cleaning and disinfection of office spaces and common areas

As of March 23, 2020, PSPC increased to twice daily the cleaning/disinfecting frequency of high touch points such as common spaces, washrooms, meeting room furniture, doors, stairwells, and elevators. PSPC will continue with these heightened cleaning standards until new guidance is provided by HC. We continue to work closely with departments and agencies, including within the LTDLC complex, to address any requests for enhanced or specialized cleaning based on unique program requirements. Departments are also working with our building managers to ensure an appropriate supply of wipes and of hand sanitizer are available for you at all times.

Ongoing preventative measures for building operating systems

PHAC has confirmed that COVID-19 is not known to be spread through heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) or water systems. However, PSPC continues to follow research into virus transmission during this time of heightened concern and pressures. In order to promote occupant wellness in federal buildings and facilities, we have implemented additional HVAC systems measures in buildings, including the LTDLC complex. These measures include:

We have reinforced measures to protect the safety of building water systems during periods of reduced occupancy and as part of return to occupancy measures. To address the risks associated with increased water stagnation, PSPC has implemented a rigorous flushing and testing protocol of the water systems to confirm compliance with the guidelines for Canadian drinking water quality. The water flushing protocol will continue as long as required while buildings are at reduced occupancy.

We have developed a comprehensive guide, the Building management direction for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), that you can consult for information on all preventative measures that we are implementing for building operating systems.

Promoting physical distancing

When you return to LTDLC workspaces, new measures to promote proper physical distancing will be evident throughout the complex, both in common areas and in the workspaces. PSPC building managers are working with the complex’s lead senior manager for emergencies and evacuations, building emergency and evacuation team and the lead for occupational health and safety to implement physical distancing and traffic flow measures. Some of the changes will include:

Accessibility considerations for persons with disabilities are integrated into all re-occupancy measures—this includes height appropriate signage, floor markings that do not cause obstruction, and elevator priority for those with physical or mobility impairments.

Employers are responsible for introducing the physical distancing measures within the workspace in areas such as the use of workstations, conference rooms and other collaborative spaces, as well as in shared areas such as kitchens and eating areas. By the time you return to the complex, temporary signage will be installed throughout the office space and common areas to aid in the safe movement of employees and the public within our federal facilities.

As a support in helping your employers in planning these measures, PSPC has published the Guidance and practices for the safe return to workplaces in light of the easing of restrictions document, which has been distributed to all departments and agencies.

Additionally, within the LTDLC complex, the BGIS building management team has developed a common space ambassador program as a supplemental support to monitor distancing practices, provide good support to tenants, and assisting in the overall return to the workplace experience for employees. This support is funded by PSPC for common areas and is also available for clients to mobilise in their workspaces.

Encouraging personal hygiene

Reinforcing the importance of frequent hand washing remains the cornerstone of preventing the spread of infections, including the COVID-19 virus. Posters illustrating proper handwashing techniques have been created to increase awareness about COVID-19 prevention and are being installed within the LTDLC complex. As well, hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed at each entryway of the LTDLC complex.

Providing high quality drinking water

PSPC adheres to HC’s Guidelines for Canadian drinking water quality, which set out the maximum allowable concentrations of various parameters found in water, in order to provide the cleanest, safest and most reliable drinking water possible. Additionally, for daycares located in federal buildings, which are governed by provincial requirements, the applicable provincial requirement is also applied to ensure the most stringent levels of the federal and provincial requirements for water are met in these facilities.

As you may remember, in December 2019 and January 2020, 249 samples were collected for analysis of bacteria, metal and lead from all consumption points throughout the LTDLC complex. The results indicated that 97% of all consumption points met the new more stringent HC guidelines. The consumption points that did not meet the HC standard demonstrated very slightly elevated lead levels. Proper signage was installed at all affected points of consumption to inform users not to drink the water from these locations, and alternate sources of drinking water were provided. Since then, faucets were replaced and filters were installed as required.

As we prepare for gradual re-occupancy, we are closely monitoring all potable water quality throughout the complex to ensure it remains safe for all occupants.

In addition, PSPC committed to fund and install a total of 175 water bottle refill stations with filtration capabilities throughout the complex by March 2021. The first 40 units are expected to be installed and operational by the end of August, with the rest going in progressively over the fall and winter months.

Continuously monitoring and improving air quality

We are continuing to take proactive measures to address your concerns regarding air quality at the LTDLC complex.

We retained the services of a certified industrial hygienist who developed a tailor-made monitoring strategy to measure indoor air quality on floors where complaints have already been reported. The final report was released a few weeks ago will be reviewed with LTDLC complex occupational health and safety committees when the timing is appropriate.

The results did not identify any significant issues with the HVAC systems that supply air to the building nor any source of chemical contamination in the occupied spaces, which could have an impact on indoor air quality. The report identified minor areas that require further study related to where potential water infiltration around windows may have occurred, but these pose no immediate impacts to occupants. These findings do affirm and support our continuation of the ongoing window replacement program, which will see the replacement of 71 windows over the summer and fall months of 2020, and will have the added benefit of removing any potential building materials with mould from around leaky windows.

We are continuing with our determined approach to identify all opportunities to improve and optimize the air quality in the complex and, as a result, the way forward includes several additional activities:

These measures will help increase your overall comfort while also resulting in greener operations with more efficient control and energy performance of the HVAC systems. We are also analyzing other possible scenarios and will work with the occupational health and safety committees on the best course of action to take to continue improving the air quality at the LTDLC complex.

Managing pests efficiently

We are firmly committed to properly manage and eradicate all the pests that have been found in the LTDLC complex. The recent low occupancy has been very helpful in enabling us to conduct even more intense efforts to address these issues.

Bats

Although bats have been trying to make the complex their home, we have been working with experts in the field to put in place a very efficient strategy to resolve this situation. We are pleased to report that 9 bat houses were installed in strategic locations on exterior walls in June 2020 to discourage bats from entering the building.

Another part of the plan involves identifying all the species present and learning more about how to manage them throughout the different seasons. Stantec Consulting was hired to conduct this work and will prepare a report, which will be available in the spring of 2021, to share the results and the recommended mitigation strategies. This type of research has never been done in a federal environment, and the LTDLC complex will be used as an example of best practices for other federal buildings, and even in other jurisdictions.

Bed bugs

Since March 2020, we have been conducting comprehensive inspections for bed bugs throughout all of LTDLC. This has included the use of traps for monitoring and canine inspections of each floor in the complex. Although the presence of bed bugs was detected on certain floors, we have conducted several rounds of deep steam and chemical treatments to completely eradicate the bugs from the affected carpeting and other soft surfaces. The complex was declared free of bedbugs by the experts on June 3, 2020.

Reporting cornerstone of effective management

Early reporting remains the cornerstone of effective management of any pest therefore, if you suspect that there are any pests in your workplace, please notify your manager and call the National Service Call Centre (NSCC) at 1-800-463-1850 so an investigation and treatment can take place. Calls placed to the NSCC remain anonymous. For more information about PSPC's robust pest management plan, visit control of pests in federal buildings.

Modernizing interior workspaces (GCworkplace)

Our objectives for the LTDLC complex include creating a modern workplace to attract, retain and enable public servants to work safely and comfortably in a greener and healthier environment. As you will have witnessed in the months prior to March 2020, several fit-up projects to modernize the workspaces were already underway, with the anticipation that more than 30% of the current LTDLC workforce would be in updated spaces by the end of 2022.

Progress at 15 and 25 Eddy:

Additional work for 10 Wellington (floors 17 to 19) is also advancing.

Although much work had gone into implementing the existing designs for the new GCworkplace standard, the PSPC Interior Design National Centre of Expertise has been actively evaluating new design considerations to support the current reality and the future of work. As a result, current fit-up project designs may evolve based on the new guidance. Once more is known, we will share with you any modifications to the GCworkplace standard.

Replacing the exterior

With a significant investment of over $200 million, we are working towards fully replacing the brick façade of the entire LTDLC complex over the next few years. A request for proposal to engage a new architectural and engineering consultant team will be tendered over the summer with contract award expected in the fall of 2020. Supporting contracts for environmental and commissioning services will also be put in place concurrently. The design of the new replacement envelope is expected to be completed by the fall of 2021 and will be followed by construction until 2026.

Renewing and replacing base building systems

Other measures we are investing in to support you with modernized air management systems throughout the LTDLC complex involve the 2 key projects (currently in the planning stages):

Providing you with additional support

At the townhall we committed to hire a tenant experience coordinator (TEC) who will be responsible to better track all your interactions with the National Service Call Centre and to provide you with additional support for any building issues that come up.

This representative is expected to be on site once you gradually start returning to the worksite in the fall. The TEC focus will be firmly on proactively resolving issues and identifying opportunities for continuous improvement, such as initiatives involving additional cleanliness, comfort and general environmental conditions. The TEC will provide feedback and relay improvement opportunities directly to the property and facility management team.

Keeping you informed

We are working closely with building managers, union representatives, employees on the premises, and health and safety committees to identify and resolve the concerns that have been raised by employees.

Please know that we are deeply grateful for your patience and perseverance as we implement changes to improve the LTDLC complex workplace.

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