When public health protocols in response to COVID-19 halted in-person Training & Development opportunities, teams across the municipality collaborated to provide a virtual solution for employees.
One team that recognized the need to increase their capacity in facilitating online training was the Office of Diversity & Inclusion/ANSAIO. In addition to having two employees attend an Online Design and Delivery course through Dalhousie University, the team has been able to collaborate with Organizational Development to redesign modules as necessary, facilitate virtual conversations with Business Units and offer online workshops.
“Although we continue to work through the challenges that come with virtual training, the process has brought opportunities for more collaboration with various business units, including HR and ICT,” says Huwaida Medani, D&I/ANSAIO Senior Advisor and the team lead for training. “Colleagues from across these divisions are available and ready to answer questions, discuss solutions and exchange knowledge.”
The Organizational Development team partnered with D&I/ANSAIO to support this pivot to online training. This included determining which courses needed to transition to Virtual Instructor Lead Training (VILT), which is training that is delivered in a virtual environment; increase proficiency of engagement tools within Microsoft Teams to achieve the established learning objectives; redesign courses as necessary; and conduct pilot sessions ahead of the courses being launched.
“There have been pockets of awesomeness that have come to light as a result of our need to work from home. One of them has been VILT,” says Jodie Shreenan, Learning & Development Specialist. “Like most employees, we found ourselves challenged to deliver on the same job functions but needing to find a new way to do so. At the time, we were all new to using Microsoft Teams and had limited experience with VILT, so these skills were new to us. As well, we learned to expect the unexpected, like planning for technological challenges that arise when working from home.”
By sharing these processes, reflecting on lessons learned and adapting quickly to new ways of doing business, D&I/ANSAIO and Organizational Development have been able to make the transition to online training as smooth as possible.
For most, a snowy forecast means hunkering down and staying inside, but for many municipal employees it means gearing up and getting out there to face mother nature head on.
Throughout these weather events, Winter Operations crews work around the clock clearing snow and mitigating icy conditions.
Did you know?
With each weather event, crews are responsible for approximately 3,800 lane kilometres of streets, about 1,000 kilometres of sidewalks and 2,295 bus stops across the region.
The team at Halifax Transit also continues to do an incredible job managing snow plans to ensure citizen and employee safety and satisfaction.
To all of the municipal employees across the organization who have and continue to play a role in delivering services and staying on top of citizen inquiries during the winter months – thank you!
See a sampling of community kudos that citizens have shared over the past few weeks. Express your gratitude by leaving a note in the comments section below.
There was a snow bank that made it hard for me to manage since I use a walker. Please thank the young gentleman bus driver who got out of the bus to assist and help me get over the snow bank and onto his bus.
The [Transit] driver did a great job driving in the snow. I felt safe and wanted to commend him on his driving in such bad conditions.
Compliments to the snow plow driver who worked over the January 22-23 snowfall. A huge effort was made to clean around cars that were impeding snow removal.
This is just a quick line to pass on a “Thank you” to the snow removal operators…The driver that did this area did a really great job at widening the driving area on narrow streets. This clearing was done quickly and thoroughly.
Compliments on the sidewalk clearing in my area…They have done a great job this year and I am very happy with the work done from last Friday's storm.
Editor’s note: Some comments have been edited for consistency and clarity. Many thanks to 311 for their efforts to support citizen inquiries, and for documenting and sharing these accolades.
On November 19, members of Halifax Transit’s ferry team – Captain Gustavo Millacet, Sergey Zavalko, Eduard Tavityan, Blake Nugent and Jenny Rowlands – received the Canadian Urban Transit Association’s (CUTA) Individual Leadership Award for the bravery they displayed last year aboard the Vincent Coleman ferry.
Last October, when the ferry was approximately halfway through its crossing from Halifax to Alderney Landing, the crew was notified that a passenger had fallen overboard. Once alerted, the team acted quickly to turn the ferry 180-degrees and proceed back towards Halifax to locate the individual.
Upon location of the passenger, who at this point was floating in the water with little movement, the crew began activating passenger overboard procedures, including utilizing a large rescue net. After several attempts to rescue the passenger from the deck of the ferry, Mr. Tavityan dove into the frigid water to guide the passenger into the net. The crew also proceeded with first-aid measures and called first responders to ensure they would be prepared once they docked at Alderney.
A heartfelt congratulations to the award winners – if it were not for their quick action during a crisis, combined with their training, the outcome might have been very different that day.
When much of our region closed in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Halifax Transit staff on the frontline and behind the scenes demonstrated immense collaboration, ingenuity, innovation and dedication to keep the region moving. Halifax Transit implemented service changes and COVID-19 safety protocols at an unprecedented pace through the cooperation of multiple divisions.
To enhance precautions and resume fare collection, the maintenance team initiated the design and prototyping of polycarbonate barriers tailored to meet the unique requirements of each style of conventional bus. Additionally, in the spirit of safety and customer service, staff stepped up to ensure buses were thoroughly disinfected every day. Over the summer and fall, a mask giveaway program was launched, providing nearly 20,000 reusable masks to passengers at locations throughout the region. With the creativity, resourcefulness and initiative of staff at all levels, Halifax Transit continues to adapt to changing public health directives and provide exceptional service to move the region forward.
As public health directives continue to change, teams across Parks & Recreation have significantly adapted their programs and services, providing opportunities for residents to safely stay active. Below are just some highlights from the past several months:
Through collaboration and innovation, and with their customer’s safety in mind, Parks & Recreation continues to provide amenities that support the physical and mental well-being of residents of all ages.
Arts & crafts was just one topic in the Rec at Home video series.
When COVID-19 impacted the in-person Permit/Subdivision application process, a skilled group of employees from Planning & Development and ICT quickly addressed this gap by collaborating on an electronic solution to meet the needs of residents and industry stakeholders.
Within nine days, the interim solution was up and running, which includes:
Throughout the process, staff regularly met with industry stakeholders to provide project updates and collaboratively work through roadblocks – something they continue to do weekly.
Coming very soon – is the launch of Release 1 of Planning & Development’s Permitting, Planning, Licensing and Compliance Solution. This will replace the above-mentioned interim solution for permit applications. Planning & Development is excited and committed to continually improving customers’ digital interactions with a focus on service excellence.
COVID-19 restrictions, such as physical distancing requirements, have impacted the way we move around the region. In response, the Strategic Transportation Planning team was tasked to create the municipality’s Mobility Response: Streets and Spaces program.
To help research, create, evolve and implement the program, an interdepartmental team was formed with representatives from Transportation & Public Works, Planning & Development, Halifax Transit, Corporate Communications, Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency (HRFE) and Public Safety. Not only was each member of the team solutions-focused, but the collaborative environment helped to reduce process timelines and provide faster approvals.
One aspect of the program included the installation of 16 kilometers of Slow Streets across peninsular Halifax and downtown Dartmouth. Additionally, the expansion of patios or outdoor dining areas were accommodated to support local businesses. According to the program’s public engagement and follow-up survey, 65 per cent of respondents were supportive of the of the Slow Streets initiative, 58 per cent visited extended patio or outdoor dining areas, and 59 per cent felt these spaces encouraged more street life.
In the midst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement was brought to the forefront after a series of tragic events ignited a long overdue call for social justice and shed light on existing institutional racism.
In response, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion/African Nova Scotian Affairs Integration Office (ANSAIO) amplified their work in helping Business Units address the anti-Black racism that still exists within the municipality. These initiatives and resources include:
Additionally, an anti-Black racism project charter has been developed based on recommendations by the Anti-Black Racism Working Group. Through the project charter, the municipality will work on key objectives that will enable it to become a safe and inclusive organization. Over the coming months, a steering committee, representing various parts of the organization, will commence work on the charter and help create a robust municipal anti-Black racism strategy for a safe and inclusive organization.
Thank you to the D&I/ANSAIO team for supporting these initiatives under such difficult circumstances. Your work is vital in continuing the difficult, yet important conversations needed in order to remove barriers and move change forward.
Front row (L to R): Dave Kerr, Denise Ryan, Tracy Zwicker-Forbes, Brittany Pottie, Avery Masewich
Back row (L to R): Kim LeBlanc, Doug Murphy, Sam Bennett, Linda Simmonds
Missing: Joel Aguinaga, Vicki Robertson, Bob Gailey.
Since the software’s launch in July 2018, over 82,000 client accounts have been created with 79,500 program registrants participating in over 11,000 programs. The software also allows residents to process memberships, as well as sign-up for drop-in sessions.
But the capabilities don’t stop there; several transformative offerings are currently in the works.
New in 2020, residents will be able to search gym space, ball diamonds, sports fields, and ice surfaces (starting this winter with the LeBrun Recreation Centre and Sackville Sports Stadium), with the ability to book online coming soon. Equipment loans — including helmets, skates, kayaks, canoes, snowshoes, and more — will also be offered.
As part of the Affordable Access Program, residents who meet the criteria can access heavily discounted or free programs and services through the software. And a new payment-plan option for summer camps will allow registrants enrolling within the full eight weeks of programming to pay just 25 per cent of the cost as of April 1, with remaining deductions occurring throughout May, June and July. New universal key fobs and cards will also be issued to registrants, facilitating accessibility across all community and recreation centres and multi-district facilities.
The ongoing deployment of this enterprise recreation software in centres and facilities across the municipality — many with their own unique site requirements, registration fees, processes and program offerings — is no easy feat. Progress would not be possible without the expertise and adaptability of the project team.
Congratulations to everyone involved for your collaboration, problem solving and commitment to excellence.
Be sure to check out the robust list of events planned for this month which are being promoted via our digital screens and the municipality’s social media platforms.
For their important contributions to the vibrancy of the Halifax region, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to our African Nova Scotian residents and all residents of African descent; the African Nova Scotian Affairs Integration Office (ANSAIO), Office of Diversity & Inclusion; business-unit partners; and our provincial counterparts. Special thanks, this month in particular, for the meaningful work planning and organizing such an inspiring line-up of African Heritage Month events and activities.
In the spirit of celebrating the accomplishments of African Nova Scotians and those of African Descent, I would like to also congratulate our most recent graduates of the Foundations for Aspiring Leaders Program.
Kudos to each of you for achieving this significant career milestone. We are grateful to have you all as part of our municipal team and excited to see how you will continue to apply your new skills.
Brandon Grant, Desmond Lambert, Ali Duale, Johnathon Jones, Ayo Aladejebi, Jacques Dubé, Eric Newbould (Program Coordinator); Missing: Eddy Parsons