Smart Commute Awards 2015

About the Awards

The Smart Commute Awards were introduced in 2007 to officially recognize employer members or partners who have put forth exceptional effort in implementing Smart Commute programs. The Awards recognize outstanding commitment, leadership, innovation and results.

Our review panel has reviewed the nominations and determined a Smart Commute Employer of the Year Award winner for each of the four regions from which nominations were received: Hamilton, Peel, Toronto and York. From these winners, one has been selected by the panel to receive the top honour: the overall Regional Employer of the Year.

A Pan Am Preparedness Award was also presented this year, acknowledging a workplace that demonstrated exceptional efforts to support business continuity during the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Para Pan Am Games held in July and August.

In addition, the Smart Commute Rising Star Award acknowledges a workplace that achieved outstanding success in their first year in the program.

And finally, the Smart Commute Champion Award celebrates the ‘above and beyond’ achievements of an individual or group whose contribution has been integral to the success of a Smart Commute program anywhere in the region.

The awards were given out on November 19, 2015 at St. Lawrence Hall in Toronto. Scroll down to learn more about the winners.

Awards Review Panel Members

We extend our gratitude to the expert panel of volunteers who evaluated all of the nominations:

  • Christopher Burke – Director, Service Planning, Metrolinx
  • Brent Kopperson – Executive Director, Windfall Ecology Centre
  • Nancy Smith Lea – Director, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT), a project of the registered charity Clean Air Partnership
  • Christine Terin – Manager of Marketing and Communications, York Region Transit (YRT/Viva)
  • Erica Warsh – Transportation Demand Management Coordinator, City of Mississauga – 2014 Smart Commute Regional Employer of the Year

Thank you to our Event Sponsors:

LandorPrintTelus

2015 Smart Commute Award Winners (click below for details)

Regional Employer of the Year (GTHA) – PowerStream Inc.

PowerStream is a community-owned energy company that provides power and related services to more than 375,000 customers located in Central Ontario and immediately north of Toronto. Given PowerStream’s suburban office location in Vaughan, their Smart Commute efforts are focused on HOV (high occupancy vehicle) initiatives, including the use of carpools and vanpools. The vanpool program began as a pilot with two vanpools in 2009 on two routes. The program now consists of 10 vanpools (63 participants), travelling six different routes throughout the Greater Toronto Area. This is the largest fleet of vanpools in Ontario, and it is so popular that there is a waiting list of employees hoping to join. In addition, their carpool program has 110 riders in 51 carpools.

Smart Commuting is embedded in the organizational culture at PowerStram - the program is run by a full-time Environmental Coordinator who has full support from the CEO and Executive Management Team. This support allowed PowerStream to pilot a successful remote work program in the summer of 2015, which is now being evaluated for scaling into a larger, permanent program. PowerStream has always been an active participant in all Smart Commute regional campaigns and with more than 30% of staff commuting sustainably, PowerStream sets an example for all employers in the region looking to implement smart commute options.

Learn more about Smart Commute North Toronto, Vaughan.

Pan Am Preparedness Award - Cogeco Cable Canada

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s goal leading up to the 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games was to ensure businesses were aware that the transportation network would be busier than usual, and that there were steps they could take to minimize disruption and support business continuity. No company better exemplified this than Cogeco Cable Canada. Cogeco has a culture of preparedness; for them, the necessity to begin planning for the Games was clear. The cross-functional Planning Committee at the Burlington office began work early, in November 2014, eight months before the Games were set to start.

After a series of departmental planning meetings, senior management approved the Games Plan in March 2015. The key objective of this plan, other than maintaining business continuity during the Games, was to align travel planning for the Games with existing business requirements and reporting mechanisms. Cogeco did just that with the following initiatives: an awareness campaign highlighting the 4Rs, 23 carpool groups created through the Smart Commute online tool (carpool spaces were added to meet increased demand), shuttle bus implemented between Appleby GO Station and the Burlington office and remote/flexible working hours.

These initiatives proved to be very successful during the Games as Cogeco staff were motivated to try new and alternative methods of travel and work arrangements. The Games Plan was so successful that senior management is considering keeping many initiatives in place.

Learn more about Smart Commute Halton.

Smart Commute Rising Star Award - IMAX Corporation

IMAX is one of the world’s leading entertainment technology companies, with corporate headquarters in Mississauga. IMAX joined Smart Commute Mississauga in March 2015, and within the first few months achieved the Smart Commute GOLD workplace designation.

Investments include the installation of bike parking, designated carpool parking and the establishment of a corporate bike share program. A comprehensive employee travel plan was established for the Pan Am Games (July 2015), which included ensuring that changes to the transportation systems in the area were communicated regularly to staff.

Travel behaviour change has been so successful at IMAX that a planned parking lot expansion has become unnecessary. These are some great accomplishments for a workplace in its first year of the program.

Learn more about Smart Commute Mississauga.

Smart Commute Champion Awards - Caroline Karvonen & Jennifer Spence

The review panel could not decide between two of the nominations this year so we have two Champion Award Recipients. Read on to learn more about them:

Caroline Karvonen is the primary Smart Commute contact and Environmental Coordinator at PowerStream in Vaughan, Ontario. She manages the creation, implementation, promotion and reporting of all Smart Commute programs. She has been involved with Smart Commute since 2010 and has taken on additional roles such as Smart Commute NTV Board Director. Caroline has ensured that PowerStream is an active participant in all Smart Commute campaigns to increase awareness and participation in all transportation options.

Due to Caroline’s efforts, PowerStram boasts the largest vanpool in Ontario – with 10 vans accommodating 110 people. The success of the program is such that employees now go to Caroline with new vanpool routes and there is a waiting list of interested participants.

In the summer of 2015, Caroline created a successful pilot program for teleworking, specifically to ensure business continuity during the Pan Am Games. Caroline has been an instrumental part of embedding Smart Commute in the organizational culture. The program is promoted during employee orientation and as new hires immediately seek out carpool/vanpool options, Caroline is there to help.

Learn more about Smart Commute North Toronto, Vaughan.

Jennifer Spence played a key role in bringing Smart Commute to the Town of Halton Hills five years ago. Jennifer leads the Sustainability Team for the Town, and in 2011 she launched the now annual noon bike ride for Town staff in celebration of Bike to Work Day. This event, coupled with ongoing promotion of sustainable transportation options, has led the town to achieve Bronze designation as a bicycle friendly community. Jennifer’s efforts further supported cyclists with the installation of bike lockers, bike parking and the Bike Share program. Due to her efforts, the Smart Commute program has expanded to town fire stations, libraries, community centres and arenas as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Halton Hills Hydro. Jennifer’s commitment to the Halton Hills community is unwavering as she offers consistent support in the realm of sustainable transportation.

Learn more about Smart Commute Halton.

Smart Commute Employer of the Year, Hamilton – Mohawk College

Since joining the program in 2008, Mohawk College has enhanced its Smart Commute presence by building on previous successes and investing in new infrastructure to empower staff and students to embrace and support alternative modes of transportation. During this time, the campus population has increased by over 40% while a recent audit revealed that between 60-70% of campus commuters are now travelling using a method other than driving alone. This shift allowed for an overall reduction in parking capacity, leading to an estimated savings of more than $5 million, since new parking facilities did not need to be constructed.

Mohawk College has reduced the use of single-occupant vehicles through a variety of ways. First, they expanded the carpool program which includes 50 dedicated carpool parking spaces and two Campus Student Car Share vehicles. They then introduced four electric vehicle charging stations and four self-service bike repair stations. Last but not least, Mohawk College recently broke ground on the new Mohawk College Transit Terminal, which will include bus bays and terminals serving multiple transit routes. This new facility will make transit a much more viable option for the 4,000 staff and students who travel there daily.

All of these achievements are funded through the Sustainability Office’s annual budget and supported by targeted events and incentives, strong collaboration with key community partners and on-campus outreach activities. More importantly, the success of these initiatives is inspired by the needs of staff and students and there is no doubt Mohawk College will continue to be a leader in transportation demand management.

Learn more about Smart Commute Hamilton.

Smart Commute Employer of the Year, Peel Region – LoyaltyOne

LoyaltyOne demonstrates a strong commitment to both the environment and the well-being of its employees through various initiatives. The company, located in Mississauga and a Smart Commute member workplace since 2009, is continuously recognized as a leader in sustainable practices.

A follow up survey of employees conducted in May 2015 achieved an impressive 64% response rate and revealed:

  • Increased public transit usage from 10% to 17%
  • Increased teleworking from 0% to 23%
  • Increased walking from 0% to 2%

This is a well-rounded program which takes into consideration the many options for commuting. There are bike racks and show facilities available, three electric vehicle charging stations, a discounted transit pass program, car-share vehicles, eco and carpool parking spaces and dedicated staff to promote the Smart Commute program.

LoyaltyOne provides a plethora of programs and services to help its employees commute sustainably. They also participate in many annual campaigns and hold informative workshops to help employees learn more and try out alternative travel options. LoyaltyOne continues to set a positive example, inspiring others to work together for positive change.

Learn more about Smart Commute Mississauga.

Smart Commute Employer of the Year, Toronto – Manulife

Manulife has been a proud Smart Commute member since 2009 and over the past six years has remained committed to growing the program and embedding it in the company culture. Manulife strives to support the economic, environmental and social well-being of their customers, employees and communities across their global operations. Employees at the head office in Toronto know that participating in Smart Commute by promoting and encouraging sustainable commuting options is a key component of these commitments.

Manulife participates in Smart Commute campaigns, offers the Emergency Ride Home program and discounted transit passes, has active commuting infrastructure on-site and promotes the Smart Commute online tool.

Special care was taken to prepare employees for the Pan Am Games. Manulife offered free access to showers and lockers to encourage active commuting, prepared promotions around the best commute routes and options, and held introductory sessions on how to telework for the first time.

Manulife’s WorkSmart program gives employees the ability to work, communicate and collaborate anywhere/anytime – reducing the need for commuting altogether – through mobile working, flexible work arrangements and teleconferencing.   Currently, at least 20% of North American employees are part of the WorkSmart program that reduces the need for commuting, contributes to employee work-life balance and helps ‘future-fit’ the organization. The WorkSmart program continues to expand to offices worldwide, as flexible working becomes the smart commuting of the future!

Learn more about Smart Commute – Toronto Central.

Smart Commute Employer of the Year, York Region – PowerStream Inc.

PowerStream is a community-owned energy company that provides power and related services to more than 375,000 customers located in Central Ontario and immediately north of Toronto. Given PowerStream’s suburban office location in Vaughan, their Smart Commute efforts are focused on HOV (high occupancy vehicle) initiatives, including the use of carpools and vanpools. The vanpool program began as a pilot with two vanpools in 2009 on two routes. The program now consists of 10 vanpools (63 participants), travelling six different routes throughout the GTA. This is the largest fleet of vanpools in Ontario, and it is so popular that there is a waiting list of employees hoping to join. In addition, their carpool program has 110 riders in 51 carpools.

Smart Commuting is embedded in the organizational culture - the program is run by a full-time Environmental Coordinator who has full support from the CEO and Executive Management Team. This support allowed PowerStream to pilot a successful remote work program in the summer of 2015, which is now being evaluated for scaling into a larger, permanent program. PowerStream has always been an active participant in all Smart Commute regional campaigns, and with more than 30% of staff commuting sustainably, PowerStream sets an example for all employers in the region looking to implement smart commuting options.

Learn more about Smart Commute North Toronto, Vaughan.