Toronto - spent $146.8 million to get compliant : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

January 21, 2000

City team pulled together for Y2K success


Amalgamated Toronto was not formed until Jan. 1, 1998, long after some businesses had already solved their Y2K woes. Of the 10 listed danger signs that indicated high risk of suffering significant Y2K problems, Toronto had nine of them - with the amalgamation being the source of many of the risk factors.

Ray Thornton, head of Royal Bank's international Y2K efforts, was concerned about the city's ability to complete the task in time, when he started giving them advice a year before the deadline. Six months later, ``they pulled the city together and I watched teamwork at its height. It was as a result of that, I think, that you can celebrate the new millennium without any problem,'' he told council. ``Job well done.''

The head of the effort was Lana Viinamae, ``a crackerjack'' of a person who managed to get a team of more than 800 people all pulling in the same direction.

``We achieved our objectives. We did it under budget. And we finished ahead of schedule,'' she said.

``I've never seen an organization face a challenge, come together and pull through with such flying colours. It was fantastic and really rewarding.''

The Toronto government spent $146.8 million on the problem and finished 17 days ahead of the Oct. 30 target. During peak times, 450 people were employed on the project. On New Year's Eve, more than 300 people were stationed at various office buildings and strategic sites, doing checks, re-setting systems they knew might fail when the computers changed to 2000.

It wasn't until some eight hours past midnight that they felt they could breathe easy, Viinamae says.

As the rest of the world cycled through midnight and the worst fears were not realized, Viinamae said one of her workers had a horrible thought: What if Toronto is the only place where there is widespread systems failure?

She needn't have worried, considering the months of ``Check. Double check. Re-check.''

Was the money wasted?

Viinamae said several of the systems would have failed had they not been fixed. One was a tracking system used by the city's homes for the aged to find seniors who have wandered away. It completely shut down during pre-tests.

Can't name the more than 850 who worked on the project, but the following department leaders should pass on the city's gratitude: Jennifer Bellis (community and neighbourhood services), Sandra Crutcher (urban planning and development), Michael Ho (finance), Marilyn Scott (corporate services), Ted Smith (works and emergency) and Fred Weindel (economic development).

The Y2K team, led by the above group, made possible the Toronto Star's Jan. 1 headline, Hello, world: we're Y2-OK!

Thanks, every one of you.

Royson James' column usually appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Source: The Toronto Star, Canada

-- Lee Maloney (, February 12, 2000


Correction. Subject line should read: Toronto (not Canada) spent..

-- Lee Maloney (, February 12, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ