Housing and Infrastructure

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

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

A recent member project included the complete retrofit of the community’s 320 streetlights. When IGNITE Teams design infrastructure solutions, they always plan well beyond the construction stage, often for the full useful life of the asset. To future-proof this project, our team felt it was important for these streetlights to fit the needs of the community well beyond their installation.

As the proposed lighting retrofit included an LED solution, the team felt it should research the pros and cons of LED streetlights. The team found much research on how LED streetlights were too bright or harsh on a driver’s eyes.  It also found other discussions about the effects of very bright, almost blue-colored street lights and their effect on the circadian system of humans and animals disrupting their sleep patterns.  After digesting all this research, the IGNITE Team proposed the community consider using a warmer, less harsh colour for all its streetlights. The member agreed and opted for the warmer colour.

Often the simplest solution is the easiest one.  The IGNITE team prides itself in finding the right answers to the most challenging situations. It believes there is always an answer, even if its as simple as ordering a different colour for a lighting fixture to ensure local residents can sleep at night.

“As soon as you open your mind to doing things differently, the doors of opportunity practically fly off their hinges.”

― Jay Abraham, The Sticking Point Solution

The IGNITE Sustainable Communities Program is a well-designed series of risk mitigation processes that manages or eliminates many of the traditional risks associated with acquiring the use of an infrastructure asset. When designing the IGNITE PROGRAM, standards and risk mitigation procedures were developed for all stages.

As part of IGNITE’s mandate to serve its members, it commits to providing solutions with an “On Budget, On Time, No Risk” strategy. “On budget” is a strategy to keep within the budget of the infrastructure asset plan at all stages of its useful life. “On time” means any project activity is performed within the agreed upon time frame. “No risk” is a strategy of eliminating as much risk as possible for all stages of the infrastructure asset plan.

To ensure budget sustainability for the useful life of the member asset plan, IGNITE expects a vendor to satisfy the following strict criteria:

  • Match its product warranty length to the term of the member plan
  • Provide operational service, maintenance, and warranty service for the full duration of the member plan.
  • Price its product to include this level of service and warranty support. These prices are expected to be significantly lower than what the member could negotiate by itself.
  • Sign a vendor agreement to meet a minimum product performance standard on an ongoing basis for the duration of the member plan.

Vendors are continually reviewed by IGNITE for product performance and there may be situations where a product and a vendor could be removed from the PROGRAM due to under performance.

“I Do Not Trust You” Insurance

Despite all the proceeding, IGNITE designed one additional fail-safe feature, which it jokingly refers as the “I Do Not Trust You” insurance, to ensure the member plan would not be adversely affected by vendor non-compliance with its agreement with IGNITE.  To ensure profitability would not be harmed or materially interrupted by vendor non-compliance with its Vendor Agreement, the insurance covers the steps to ensure all service levels are maintained.  This insurance effectively moves the risk from within the IGNITE PROGRAM and sends it outside IGNITE to the insurance company.  The insurance company, in turn, pursues the vendor outside of the IGNITE PROGRAM, so there is no interruption to the member plan. This is done behind the scenes and the member is not even aware of it occurring.

To learn more about these risk mitigation strategies, contact IGNITE.

“As soon as you open your mind to doing things differently, the doors of opportunity practically fly off their hinges.”

― Jay Abraham, The Sticking Point Solution

The development, design, build, finance, long-term operation and maintenance of public infrastructure is complex, time-consuming, often requires very specific skills, and involves many stakeholders with competing interests. Increasingly, public sector organizations are looking for ways to more effectively launch and manage infrastructure assets for their complete useful life.

There are entrenched “ways of doing business” by many public organizations to renew, expand, operate, and maintain infrastructure assets. Unfortunately, these methods are not providing the results many organizations require. New ways of looking at infrastructure are needed even if “we have never done it this way before”.



The New Paradigm 

The design, development, build, finance, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure assets is a complex process. To address this complexity, a paradigm shift in how to approach infrastructure is necessary. The new paradigm requires:

  1. Stakeholders viewed as partners – There are numerous stakeholders who will be involved in the entire life-cycle of an asset. Stakeholders to the asset include individuals and in some case organizations within and external to the public sector entity. Within the public sector organization, it includes administrators, infrastructure specialists, engineers, legal, accounting, and senior decision-makers. External to the public sector organization, it includes for-profit vendors and contractors, funding groups, professionals such as legal and accounting, and regulators. In the past, these various groups viewed each other in a “us vs them” mentality. The new paradigm views each stakeholder as a partner to the infrastructure asset. By adopting this approach, the emphasis is on fair treatment for all partners.
  2. Transparency – By encouraging transparency in all transactions between the various partner stakeholders to an asset, it creates an atmosphere of trust. This encourages long-term and deep partnerships between the various stakeholders. For funding groups, transparency lessens misunderstanding and mitigates risk in their initial underwriting process. For vendors and contractors, a transparent, open, honest approach to solution providing results in procurement processes whose focus in on the best solutions rather than lowest cost. For senior decision-makers, transparency means better information to make long-term decisions.
  3. Long-term perspective – By planning for the full life of an asset, stakeholders look for ways to create sustainability and financial viability of the asset.


It is this paradigm which sets the stage for public sector entities to thrive with infrastructure in the 21st century.  All other secrets require Secret 1 to be in place and effective, prior to moving forward.

To see the next Secret click here.

For all the Secrets click here.

It is no secret public infrastructure in many places around the United States and Canada has deteriorated during the last few decades. Although the severity may vary, public sector organizations such as governments, health care, education, municipalities, and First Nations are finding it increasingly challenging to address issues with their waste, water, power, and building infrastructure. The problems are very complex.


The purpose of this blog is to share many short stories and anecdotes of how we were able to work closely with public sector organizations to solve specific infrastructure challenges. We are looking forward to sharing our experiences over the next while.


“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”

Albert Einstein

Walter Manitowabi, Director of the First Nations Sustainable Communities Program of IGNITE Infrastructure Association, presented at the Assembly of First Nations 2017 National Housing and Infrastructure Forum being held in Montreal, Quebec, October 30-November 1. During his presentation, Manitowabi announced the national launch of the First Nations Sustainable Communities Program.

Manitowabi participated in a panel discussion on Skills Development and Capacity Building. The panel also discussed opportunities to support First Nations with innovative project development and financing models. “It is crucial, now more than ever, for First Nations to develop new ways of project development and financing.  The current government programs are broken and have been broken for a long time.  Yes, First Nations do need a national strategy with new delivery models and new federal programming, but until then, First Nations need a new approach to infrastructure – a community driven approach that is supported by IGNITE.”