Technical Tours on Tap Highlight Toronto Industries' Inner Workings

The agenda for AIHce 2009 is brimming with educational and networking opportunities, but not all of them are confined to the Toronto Convention Centre. With so much to offer in one city, conference organizers have planned two technical tours for every weekday of the conference proper (Monday through Wednesday, June 1-3) as a way to enrich the learning experience with the fun of a fieldtrip, mostly to rarely visited sites.

Due to the popularity of the tours, participation is limited to professional registrants and further limited to only one tour per person. Shuttles depart from and return to the convention center at approximately the times listed, and CM points are awarded equal to 0.5 per half-day tour. Tickets are $45 per tour in advance and $50 on site (but two of the six trips offer only advance tickets--see below).

For all six tours, a valid photo ID is required, and food and beverages are prohibited. Briefcases, backpacks, and totes are discouraged. Appropriate attire including slacks (no shorts or skirts) and flat, closed, sturdy walking shoes are a must, unless even sturdier protective footwear is required, as is the case with half of the outings.

The lineup for Monday, June 1, includes a trip to the Toronto Botanical Garden followed by a visit to Enwave's Deep Lake Water Cooling project and a separate outing to the Construction Trades Training Centre. Both tours take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and are limited to 30 participants each. The Botanical Garden tour, dubbed "Going Green--Inside and Out," features four acres of contemporary display gardens and a LEED® Silver Certified building designed to educate and inspire urban dwellers, demonstrating eco-friendly gardening practices and plant selections. Leaving the garden, attendees for this tour will travel to Enwave's Deep Lake Water Cooling project, the largest of its kind in the world. Cold water from the bottom of Lake Ontario is used not only as a source of potable water for Toronto residents, but also to air condition more than 60 of the city's largest buildings.

The Construction Trades Training Centre trip, meanwhile, is one of the tours for which construction-grade safety shoes or boots are required, and the outing is designed to complement the Roundtable panel discussion (RT 245) slated for Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Funding through the Ontario Ministry of Training in conjunction with the construction industry and the unions has resulted in the opening of new skills development and apprenticeship training centers in Ontario including The Ontario Sheet Metal Workers Training Centre and the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario. These state-of-the-art facilities are designed to educate and train the next generation of skilled construction trades people while simultaneously educating and training the existing work force. These sites incorporate occupational health and disease awareness as part of their curriculum, which will be addressed on the tour.

Tuesday's tours will take attendees to two very diverse sites. The first, scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and limited to 30 participants, will take place at Toronto Hydro Corp., which consists of Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited and Toronto Hydro Energy Services Inc. (including Toronto Hydro Street Lighting). Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited is the largest municipal electric distribution utility in Canada with more than 697,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers across the Greater Toronto Area. The tour will highlight the safety, hygiene, and ergonomic issues workers face and explain current EHS initiatives. It is another trip for which safety shoes or boots required; the facility will provide hard hats, safety glasses, and vests.

Just as that tour is ending, up to 50 other AIHce registrants will be beginning their technical tour (scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) of Sanofi Pasteur Limited, Canada's largest and Toronto's only full-scale vaccine company conducting research, development, manufacturing, filling, packaging, and distribution. The company provides nearly two billion doses of vaccines a year, immunizing more than 500 million people around the world. Participants will learn about vaccine manufacturing, biosafety, and related issues. Tickets for this tour are not available for purchase on site, and Sanofi's policy prohibits employees of generic pharmaceutical manufacturers from participating.
Wednesday's tours are both scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. One will take place at the IBM Toronto Software Lab, the largest software development facility in Canada and the third largest research lab worldwide within the IBM Software Group. The facility is environmentally conscious and has been recognized by the Wildlife Habitat Council for the preservation of its park-like setting and by Natural Resources Canada for its energy efficient design aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The building was recently certified by BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) as a "Go Green Plus" facility and was awarded BOMA's "Earth Award" in 2008. The tour is limited to 40 registrants.

The other tour of the day, happening concurrently and limited to 50 registrants, will head to the Toronto Transit Commission's historic Hillcrest Complex, home to two major maintenance facilities, the D.W. Harvey Shop and the W.E.P. Duncan Shop where highly skilled employees maintain and repair TTC's fleet of buses and streetcars. While at D.W. Harvey, participants will see the processes associated with streetcar overhauling, including machining, sheet metal and welding, wood milling and upholstery, electrical and motor repair, and paint and body repair. At the Duncan Shop, attendees will see processes associated with bus overhauling, including mechanical systems and engine, transmission, brake, and tire repair. This facility also is responsible for maintaining TTC's non-revenue fleet. Safety shoes or boots required to tour it. For more information about any of the tours, go to

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