The Nugget

LRT line should open early May

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson speaks at a news conference Wednesday as the city announced a timeline for completion of the Metro LRT Line to NAIT.

The City of Edmonton announced yesterday, Wednesday, Jan. 21, that the long delayed Metro LRT Line that will service NAIT is not scheduled to open until early May, too late for U-Pass students to use it this spring.

A timeline shows that a six-week evaluation and training period is scheduled to begin on March 23, meaning that the line wouldn’t be operational until May 4.

“Based on the most recent testing schedule provided by Thales Rail Signalling Solutions Inc., the City of Edmonton is cautiously optimistic the Metro Line LRT will open to public service in spring 2015,” the city said in a news release.

The line was originally scheduled to open in spring 2014, but “the complexity of the interface between the Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) signaling system and Edmonton’s existing LRT system requirements delayed completion of the project,” the news release said.

Transportation Services General Manager Dorian Wandzura said, “Thales has made some progress over the last few
months but they still have several project milestones to achieve before they can turn the system over to the City for evaluation and ETS operator training.”

The City says the CBTC system allows LRT trains to detect how close they are to each other, with oversight by a centralized master control. This allows trains to safely reduce spacing between them, and provide more frequent service. In contrast, the traditional fixed-block system of existing Edmonton’s LRT system requires LRT trains to maintain greater distance between them, which means less frequent service.

Integrating the CBTC with the fixed block system is taking longer than anticipated.

“Thales appreciates the patience of everyone in Edmonton as we work to complete the signalling system for the Metro Line,” said Thales Vice-President Mario Peloquin.

The City says the line is expected to add 13,200 weekday riders to Edmonton’s LRT network and link major destinations such as NAIT, the Royal Alexandra Hospital and Mac-Ewan University to the rest of the network.

Critics of the project are angry about the setbacks, but in a previous interview with the Nugget, city spokesman
Graeme McElheran was quick to clarify that this will not be a recurring problem moving forward.

“This is not something that we’ll have to do again in the future. The work will already be done,” he said.

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Essential: The NAIT Campaign

NAIT recently received $1.1 million in financial support from ConocoPhillips Canada, helping Alberta meet its need for a highly-skilled workforce and developing emerging solutions for sustainable resource development.

“We value our relationship with ConocoPhillips Canada,” said NAIT President and CEO Dr. Glenn Feltham.

“As a leading polytechnic in sustain-able forest management, our collaboration is helping to advance applied research undertaken by the NAIT Boreal Research Institute and supporting Power Engineer-ing Technology, one of our most in-demand programs.”

The announcement pledged the money in support of NAIT’s Power Engineering Technology program as well as the NAIT Boreal Research Institute (NBRI) through the creation of the new ConocoPhillips Canada – Surmont Boreal Reclamation Project. This brings the company’s overall sup-port of NAIT to $1.5 million over the past decade.

Based in Peace River, the NBRI is focused on developing innovative technologies to reclaim oil and gas well sites and restore sensitive peatland ecosystems through partnerships with industry. As part of the Surmont Boreal Reclamation Project, new reclamation methods, products and materials will be developed. The applied research will be conducted at ConocoPhillips Canada’s Surmont site, located south-east of Fort McMurray.

“Investing in post-secondary education programs is about so much more than writ-ing cheques,” said Ken Lueers, president of ConocoPhillips Canada and a NAIT alumnus (Resources Engineering Technology ’82).

“It’s about providing real opportunities for students to gain practical skills to be successful,” Lueers said.

“And if we can assist in facilitating that, while simultaneously investing in research that supports our focus on responsible development, that’s the best win-win situation we could ask for.”

ConocoPhillips Canada is one of the top producers of natural gas in the country, and the second largest steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) producer, with a world-class portfolio, including assets in Western Canada, the Canadian Arctic, Atlantic Canada and oil sands near Fort McMurray.

The applied research will be con-ducted by NAIT Boreal Research Insti-tute (NBRI) researchers at ConocoPhillips Canada’s Surmont lease, a multi-decade project that uses steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) to recover bitumen. Surmont is operated by ConocoPhillips Can-ada under a 50/50 joint venture agreement with Total E&P Canada and is located southeast of Fort McMurray in the Athabasca oil sands.

A priority for ConocoPhillips is the wise management of sensitive peatland eco-systems. NAIT research at Surmont will include the evaluation of road, pipeline and seismic line impacts on peatlands and waterways.

NAIT researchers are committed to mentoring NAIT forestry and biology students and interns from other post-secondary institutions who will develop into the technical specialists needed to steward the boreal forest in years to come.

NAIT receives more than $1M

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Next Top Chef Crowned

NAITSA’s inaugural Next Top Chef competition took place on Monday, Nov. 24. Sponsored by NAITSA and the Nest Taphouse Grill, the contestants had one hour to prep and cook their turkey dishes for a panel of judges. Among the ground turkey offerings were sliders, gyozas, tortillas, samosas and stuffed burgers. The group was then cut down to three top dishes by the panel of judges.

Tamara Solon won first place for her turkey Wellingtons, which will now be featured on the Nest Taphouse Grill’s menu from Dec. 1 through Jan. 15 and she received a Japanese knife as a prize. Louie Aquino’s turkey chorizo tacos won him second place and $200 in gift cards to the NAIT bookstore and the Nest, while Miranda Decock’s tur-key sausage rolls won her third place and $100 in gift cards to the NAIT bookstore.

“I am so pleased with how this event turned out,” said Gillian Wilson, NAITSA VP Student Services. “It was such a fantastic idea to showcase the talents of our culinary students for the whole school to enjoy.

“Our judges had a very difficult time deciding the winner, that’s for sure,” she said.

“I would like to especially thank the Nest Taphouse Grill, the NAIT Culinary Arts Department and Ernest’s for their contributions and support.”

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