At midnight on June 22, 2009, approximately 24,000 City of Toronto workers went on strike.  Four days into the strike, the City announced it was opening 19 temporary garbage drop-off locations for residential waste.  After 36 days, the strike ended. In a little over a month, 48,900 tonnes of trash had accumulated. What this strike highlighted was just how much trash our modern society generates.

Waste is a polarizing issue.  Waste diversion techniques are being used by most major population centers.  But is it enough?  Municipalities, governments, First Nations, and other public organizations around the globe are increasingly looking for alternatives to address their solid, liquid, oil, and hazardous waste needs. Many communities face landfill usage limitations and high trucking costs to transport municipal solid waste to distant locations.

Many are familiar with the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle approach to managing waste, but IGNITE views the waste process as the 5-R approach of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recovery, and Residual.

The fourth strategy of the 5-R approach, Recovery, means to recover as much material and/or energy from the solid waste stream as possible through the application of technology. The Recovery strategy views waste not as something to be discarded, but as a valuable resource to the community. Through proven technologies known as Waste-to-Energy facilities, a variety of different types of waste can be turned into bio-diesel, thermal heat, or even electrical power. Technologies have advanced, so Waste-to-Energy facilities can be safely operated onsite within communities with no harmful emissions.

Residuals management, which is the fifth and final strategy of the 5-R approach, means to provide safe and effective waste disposal. This is the least effective strategy of dealing with waste. It does not deal with the waste, it just buries it.

To learn more about the 5-Rs, contact IGNITE.

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”

― Elon Musk

As the Secrets were being developed, it was discovered all the barriers to infrastructure development mentioned in “The Overview” could be resolved by focusing on two questions:

  • Who should serve as the Asset Champion?
  • What format do you roll out any infrastructure planning process?

Asset Champion

As the Secrets evolved, the attributes for the Asset Champion evolved with it. The Asset Champion needs to:

  • Be unbiased and consistent in all its interactions with ALL stakeholders to the infrastructure asset
  • Treat all stakeholders to an asset with an even-hand
  • Focus on providing the best solution without bias for technology
  • Supervise the testing and design of all technology solutions without bias
  • Have an extensive background in development, design, build, finance, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure assets.
  • Perform all development, design, build, finance, operation, and maintenance without bias to any one stakeholder or solution.
  • Have the time, knowledge, and capacity to commit to the successful implementation of any infrastructure plan, knowing the time frame for oversite could extend for up to 30 or more years
  • Have the time, knowledge, and capacity to commit to work with government regulators
  • Have the time, knowledge, and capacity to commit to search, source, and work with a variety and types of funding alternatives


Format for Rollout

The format had to provide an environment which could:

  • Provide oversite to an infrastructure asset for its full useful life. This could extend up to 30 or more years
  • Bring the brightest minds together to solve complex infrastructure problems in a non-competitive manner
  • Facilitate the numerous transactions to an asset in a transparent and timely manner
  • Facilitate the ongoing monitoring and feedback mechanisms necessary to maximize the performance of an asset for its full useful life without bias
  • Provide procurement processes customized for each public sector organization, which satisfies all necessary bylaws, regulations, and procedures of that organization.
  • Facilitate flexible and attractive funding alternatives to a variety of asset types and sizes
  • Facilitate attractive pricing for contractors and vendors, which not available anywhere else
  • Facilitate project results on-time and under budget
  • Facilitate and encourage continual improvement in process, risk mitigation, and asset sustainability


Potential Solutions

Even if a public sector organization finds ways to overcome the limitations of “silo-effect” problem solving, most organizations still lack the experience and understanding of infrastructure to be able to effectively make risk mitigation and sustainability plans.  They also lack the in-house experience with infrastructure projects to be able to simplify the process down into smaller “bite-size” components to make decisions faster and easier. For so many reasons, an in-house Asset Champion does not satisfy the rigorous requirements to manage these assets for up to 30 years.


Many people who have construction project experience may think that an engineer or general contractor could fulfill at least the Asset Champion role.  Unfortunately, their perspective is much too limiting. As both engineers and contractors are part of for-profit entities hired by a stakeholder to the project, an engineer or general contractor will have competing objectives to many of the stakeholders to the infrastructure asset and will not be able to remain unbiased.  For a variety of reasons, the engineer and general contractor cannot fulfill the numerous rigorous requirements necessary for implementing the 6 Secrets.


IGNITE Infrastructure Association

Historically, for-profit entities such as consultants and large contracting firms have dominated infrastructure, which are for-profit entities. The mandate of for-profit entities is to make profit, which is not always in alignment with the best interest of taxpayers and other stakeholders to an infrastructure asset.

As research into the 6 Secrets evolved, it became clear the two questions could be satisfied with one solution. An independent, member-based, nonprofit known as IGNITE Infrastructure Association Inc was created to act as the Asset Champion and the mechanism to roll-out the infrastructure plan. Only a member-based, nonprofit entity, whose sole focus was infrastructure assets, could satisfy these very rigorous requirements.

The mandate of IGNITE focuses on performing all activities solely to serve its members. Its members are the public sector organizations and the organizations which work with infrastructure such as engineers, funders, vendors, and contractors. IGNITE acts as the “glue” between government departments and other stakeholders. As it is the purpose of IGNITE to serve all its members fairly, it treats all these stakeholders to an infrastructure plan with an even-hand. Using this approach, the public sector organization aligns much better with taxpayer needs of maximizing value and minimizing cost. Only a nonprofit entity avoids conflict of interest and can treat all parties with an even hand.

These secrets were developed, field-tested, and proven to work during the last 10 years. Check out more information on IGNITE.

The Secrets: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Although the primary focus of IGNITE is future-proofing member infrastructure, sometimes situations arise where IGNITE can also help future-proof the member’s social infrastructure.

As it is IGNITE’s mandate to serve its members, it often does so by providing solutions members require.  Sometimes situations arise where IGNITE can help a member fix mechanical process flow or simply find a solution to a complex infrastructure problem. IGNITE is often approached by an organization with a seemingly unsolvable challenge. Alternatively, the challenge may appear impossible because of high costs.

Key to all these secrets is the infrastructure plan must be simple to adopt and easy to get started or else it will not be adopted. There are massive backlogs of infrastructure projects waiting to be developed and literally billions of dollars waiting to invest in the infrastructure sector. Lack of diagnostic tools and resources available to both public sector organizations and project funders have made infrastructure decisions difficult.  Many projects never “get off the ground” because public sector officials and funders simply do not have the diagnostic tools to make timely decisions. Simplifying and standardizing the process and providing diagnostic tools removes apprehension and improves decision-making processes.  Infrastructure Asset Champions need to bring all stakeholders together to make the process work for all and through collaboration ensure the asset management plan is both simple to adopt and easy to get started.

Simplifying the Plan

The Asset Champion in collaboration with the Project Team might consider some of the following to make the public sector organization infrastructure plan easier to adopt:

  • The long-term infrastructure plan must be very high level and include a list of infrastructure priorities for the public sector organization
  • The Project Team needs to be authorized by the public sector organization to make simple project decisions on behalf of the public sector organization
  • Daily administrative decisions affecting the infrastructure plan implementation, operation, and maintenance must flow through the Project Team.
  • Project Team decisions must be made in a timely manner as directed by the Asset Champion
  • The Plan must be broken down into simple to implement components
  • When the Project Team meets, the Asset Champion provides a very short-term, simple action plan, often with alternative courses of action. The Asset Champion normally provides explanation to the Project Team. Through a collaborative process, the Champion guides the Project Team to make the most suitable choice. Once “go-forward” steps are determined, the Asset Champion and the Project Team leave the meeting with action points for next steps on the plan. This process is repeated many times. Through this collaborative process, the Asset Champion educates and counsels the Project Team prior to decisions being made. This encourages an atmosphere of trust and capacity building.

The preceding is not exhaustive but illustrates what can be done to simplify an infrastructure action plan. It may appear intuitive, but it is a lot of work.

For the last Secret click here.

For all the Secrets click here.

Need more help?  All organizations regardless of size ever have enough staffing resources to get everything done when it needs to be done.  Projects seem to almost magically appear at the worst of times causing other things to be pushed back creating a culture of always playing catch up.


One of the many privileges of IGNITE membership is instant access to experienced project personnel without the standard challenges of a temp agency.  For example, imagine something significant in your building just broke and everyone is counting on getting it resolved immediately.  Policy dictates a lengthy tendering process and project management that will consume hours that your department does not have.  As an IGNITE member you can pass all this off to an IGNITE team to address. IGNITE has processes and project models available for every scenario.  IGNITE will adhere to the unique constraints, policies, regulations, and bylaws of your public sector organization and complete the project on time and on budget.  If this sounds like music to your ears why not contact us now to find out how you can get some of your time back.


“Those who disrupt their industries change consumer behavior, alter economics, and transform lives.”

― Heather Simmons

As part of the MAPLE project, ADRA committed to providing financial support to the Wiikwemkoong Outdoor Adventure Leadership Experience (OALE). OALE is an intensive youth leadership preparation program designed to promote culture and community, and help youth develop resilience and well-being as protective factors for their personal growth and development.

Life Is Like A Canoe Trip from ADRA Canada

Through a ten-day, 140 kilometer canoe trip, youth learn valuable life skills such as leadership, perseverance, and the ability to work together. In the summer of 2017, the program was in dire need of specialized outdoor expedition equipment to accommodate the rough terrain of Northern Ontario. Through its charitable network, ADRA arranged and then donated a significant amount of money toward the purchase of canoes, tents, and other outdoor equipment.

Team members from ADRA not only donated money, they also donated time. An ADRA team member went on one of the canoe trips with the youth and created an amazing 30 minute video of the experience. The IGNITE Team wishes to thank ADRA for its commitment to the MAPLE Project and particularly for its generosity of time and money toward the OALE Program.

ADRA Canoe Trip on Vimeo

Rarely does an opportunity present itself that can positively change the way the world operates.   IGNITE now has an opportunity to do just that. For over 100 years, every construction project has used 110 to 347 volts to power its lighting switches, which in turn powers lights.  Certain levels of voltage can be dangerous.  To an untrained individual, a seemingly simple task of changing a light bulb can result in an accident.

As with many things, there is often a better way, and this is one of them.  With the advent of LED lighting, higher voltages can be exchanged for much lower and safer voltage levels.  LED lighting systems can be designed for 24 volts.  This voltage level is safer because it mitigates the danger of electrical shock. Lower voltage also requires lighter wire. Going to lighter wire saves resources and lowers cost for lighting installation by as much as 50%.

The world has not yet adopted this lower voltage opportunity, but the IGNITE Team has an opportunity to design and implement such a project in a new apartment complex. As it has with other infrastructure initiatives, IGNITE is creating a New Way Forward for lighting in the 21st century.

“Those who disrupt their industries change consumer behavior, alter economics,

and transform lives.”

― Heather Simmons

Congratulations to Wiikwemkoong, an IGNITE member, on its development of a long term energy plan.   Many perceive an energy plan as adopting LED lighting and energy-saving heating equipment.  That is part of it, but a complete energy plan needs to include energy use for other types of infrastructure within a community.


Just replacing lights will save money, but what about the long-term effects on operating costs? IGNITE believes a complete energy plan must review every aspect of how a community or organization operates. This review process inevitably finds opportunities to reduce energy costs and increase efficiencies.  Sometimes operational efficiencies include ways to simplify energy use. Simplification may include finding ways to reduce the number of lighting fixture types.


Through a collaborative process with Wiikwemkoong, IGNITE was able find ways to reduce the community’s use of 100 different fixture types down to less than 50.  Simplification makes maintenance easier and more cost effective because there are fewer spare parts. It also reduces service costs by simply speeding up the service process.  This simple design exercise will benefit the community for many years to come.



“You have to change your thinking if you desire to have a future different from your present.”

― Germany Kent

Prior to working with IGNITE, a member could not find a solution for its HVAC equipment at one of its facilities, which was in desperate need of replacement. They reached out to several vendors, including the manufacturer of its existing equipment, and no one would provide pricing or show any interest in the project.

Once this public sector organization became a member, it asked IGNITE to work closely with them to solve this problem. IGNITE, in collaboration with the member, managed all aspects of procurement for new equipment, and it also secured contractors to install the equipment.  It had all the equipment delivered and installed. Throughout, IGNITE was in constant communication with the member to ensure complete transparency and to ensure the member was included in all pertinent decision-making.

Besides procurement, IGNITE helped the member secure funding for the project, created and managed the project budget, and kept up-to-date project accounting. This is an example of the type of service public sector organizations are eligible to receive as members of the IGNITE Infrastructure Association.


“The primary focus of IGNITE is to serve its membership by delivering

attractive privileges which facilitate infrastructure renewal.”