Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Vancouver City Council


General Manager of Corporate Services, in consultation with the Corporate Management Team


City of Vancouver Year 2000 Project





There is no Council policy directly related to Year 2000 issues. Council's policies relating to delivery of reasonable service levels reflecting the City's limited financial resources and broad service demands are relevant. In February 1998 Council authorized a City program to deal with Year 2000 issues. A policy specific to Year 2000 issues is presented for approval in this report.


The purpose of this report is to:

· Update Council on the status and progress of the City's Year 2000 program;
· Identify emergency management issues related to potential Year 2000 failures;
· Present a policy statement on management of Year 2000 issues for Council approval;
· Propose a communications program around Year 2000 issues;
· Present terms of reference and a work plan for the City's Year 2000 program; and
· Seek Council's support for a Maple Ridge proposal to UBCM for legislation exempting municipalities for Year 2000 liability.


Year 2000 issues arise from the inability of computers to properly process dates during the transition to the twenty-first century. In February of this year Council approved a program to address Year 2000 issues in the City's corporate computer programs and hardware. That work is well underway and is on schedule for completion in early 1999. The purpose of this report is to now expand the focus of the Year 2000 work to provide for a more comprehensive program which will include embedded systems. A City policy on Year 2000 is proposed which makes Year 2000 a high priority for the City and makes staff and departments responsible for addressing Year 2000 issues. These are present in everything from building systems to office equipment to mechanical systems and may well result in failures during the Year 2000 transition. The proposed program also includes emergency planning to anticipate potential failures and a communications program to inform the public of the City's efforts and the potential for disruptions. To minimize risk and liability implications for the City this report recommends supporting a proposal through UBCM for municipal exemption from liability associated with Year 2000 issues. The report sets out terms of reference for the program and for the multi-departmental Year 2000 Task Force which will oversee and guide the work. It also includes a proposed work program.



Year 2000 issues arise from the inability of some computer software and processors to process dates which extend into the 21st century correctly. The problem originates in part from the limitations of early computer hardware and in part from our normal practice of dropping the century in a date. However, when the century rolls over, computer chips andsoftware may be presented with year 00. This could lead to computers deciding that a debt is much overdue, or that investments are entitled to many years' additional interest. Some equipment might conclude that it is long overdue for maintenance, and refuse to work. Some computer systems may refuse to do anything when presented with a 21st century date.

Computer chips are now omnipresent - in cars, refrigerators, fax machines, VCRs, cell phones, sophisticated medical and process control equipment, telecommunications - in just about all modern equipment. Most of this equipment will handle the transition to a new century without difficulty. However, estimates of potential failures range from 3% to 10% of these embedded chips. Given their widespread use, this could have a major impact.

The problem has been widely recognized, locally, nationally, and internationally. The Assistant to President Clinton responsible for this problem has said:

" There is no doubt that the Year 2000 problem poses significant challenges to our Government, our Nation, and the world."

Canada's Year 2000 Task Force reported:

"An enormous effort is still required-one that demands an extraordinary level of collaboration from most public and private authorities."

The same report notes that:

"Transportation, communications and utilities are so significant that if they are not adequately prepared, they could cause considerable disruptions in our economic and social systems". (This is, of course, an area of major city responsibility."

Legal advisors in the US and Canada have suggested that the liability implications of the Year 2000 issues are very significant.

The City's responsibilities in this area are significant. The City provides many and varied essential services, and using some significant technology in delivering them. Because of this variety, the City's issues may be more difficult than other organizations of similar size that have larger scale but less diverse operations. The City can only do so much to anticipate and address these problems, given time and resource limitations.

In February of this year Council approved funding and resources to address Year 2000 issues in corporately supported computer systems and hardware in the City. A limited number of departmental systems were included in this work and the need to investigateembedded systems was identified. That work has been underway under the management of the City's Chief Information Officer and a multi-departmental Task Force.

The City's Corporate and Departmental Information Systems

Year 2000 work in this area has been progressing well. Conversion is on schedule and the first programs have been completed. The target timeframe for completion of the corporate systems is early 1999 (end of the first quarter) and we expect to meet this deadline, barring unexpected problems in testing the converted programs. The central processing environment (computer complex) is now Year 2000 ready and testing of the programs is about to commence.

Embedded Systems

Until a systematic investigation is done, the scope of the Year 2000 problem is difficult to predict. Some individuals are predicting drastic consequences; others believe that there will be major, even disastrous problems. Enterprising real estate sales people have advertised rural land as a location to survive the Year 2000 crisis. In the case of "embedded systems" the problem is particularly insidious. Embedded systems have been dubbed the "wild card" of Year 2000. Embedded date functions are found in all manner of electro-mechanical devices upon which our lives and economy depend. It has been estimated that the average person's life is affected by more than 70 microchips daily. Date sensitive computer chips are typically an integral part of systems used to monitor and control sewage and water pump stations, traffic signal controllers, telephone switches, security systems, temperature, smoke, and gas detectors, heating ventilating and air conditioning systems, elevators, equipment maintenance or diagnostic systems, fuel injection systems, financial systems, office equipment such as fax machines, copiers, telephone systems and mobile telephones etc. They are not necessarily obvious to the casual observer and are therefore difficult to identify and test. Even the timing of a failure is difficult to predict - depending on how the chip was originally configured, it may well fail or malfunction in advance of or after the Year 2000. Often the failure itself is difficult to identify - in some cases incorrect information is produced, which takes time to detect. It is frequently difficult to test embedded chips, since there is no easy way to input a different date.

City Responsibilities

It is important for the City to conduct a thorough review of its own systems and equipment, address problems it can resolve, and make contingency plans to address what it cannot rectify. However, the City has a broader concern. It must also identify non-City systems which will impact City operations if they fail. For example, if heat, hydro, telephone, transit, or hospital operations experience disruptions, the City may well be in the position ofresponding to widespread emergency conditions in the community. The City needs to prepare as far as it reasonably can for this eventuality, including the development of an emergency response plan specific to Year 2000 risks. Risk and liability issues associated with Year 2000 failures or malfunctions are also possible, and the City needs a program which minimizes this exposure through the exercise of due diligence and through appropriate policies, programs, information and warnings.

The work done to date on the City's computer systems and hardware is critical and should now continue within the context of a larger, more comprehensive focus which embodies the following elements:

Year 2000 Policy

It is important that the City have a policy which demonstrates its commitment to the Year 2000 issue and which implicitly identifies the limits of the City's abilities to address potential Year 2000 problems. The policy attached as Appendix A to this report is recommended.

Year 2000 Terms of Reference and Work Program

This component includes developing reasonable policies, work plans, and schedules to ensure that potential Year 2000 issues are systematically identified, prioritized and addressed. While the actual work will be the responsibility of identified staff within departments, senior management must take the responsibility to ensure this work is carried out successfully. The Canadian task force on the Year 2000 commented: "Clearly, executives of these firms should be concerned about the limited time remaining to prepare-and their shareholders and customers should hold them accountable."

A multi-departmental Year 2000 Task Force, reporting to the CMT and Council, will be responsible for coordinating the overall effort, reviewing and confirming recommended priorities, coordinating research, expertise, and training which may assist staff, monitoring the work schedule to ensure that established time lines are met and coordinating testing and exercising of contingency and emergency plans. The Task Force will coordinate liaison with non-city agencies whose operations may impact City operations and services.

Terms of Reference for the project and a proposed work plan are attached to this report, as Appendices B and C. The dates established in this program are optimistic, but the issue is of sufficient urgency that tight deadlines must be established.

Contingency and Emergency Planning and Testing

In some cases equipment or systems will be identified as "suspect" but remediation will either not be practical or reasonable -- or even possible. In these cases the City's response may be to develop a contingency plan which ensures continued operations even if failure occurs. Contingency plans will need to be tested to ensure they are effective. The City will also need to anticipate possible failures in both City and non-City systems which may produce emergency conditions in some areas. Emergency plans will be developed and exercised to prepare staff for the Year 2000 transition. (It is likely that the City's new Emergency Operations Centre will be activated for the Year 2000 weekend.)

Year 2000 Information and Communications Program

The purpose of this component is keep staff informed about Year 2000 issues and also to ensure appropriate information and warnings to the community and to City customers. It is important that the public be informed about the City's efforts to address potential Year 2000 issues, and to understand that because these issues are often difficult or impossible to identify, there may be disruptions to some City services. The City will also want to continue to advise the community on personal emergency preparedness to minimize the impact of any disruptions or loss of service. The communications program will also ensure that individuals and organizations seeking assurances from the City about the extent of its Year 2000 preparedness and compliance receive consistent information.

Liability Issues

Maple Ridge has submitted the following resolution to UBCM requesting that the Province pass legislation exempting municipalities from liability for problems related to the Year 2000.

This is an appropriate resolution, and it is recommended that Council endorse and actively support it. Some US States have already passed such legislation, and it is actively on the agenda of several more (some already have legislation in place which provides for limitations on liability).

As is so often the case, the breadth and importance of municipal services makes municipalities a potential target for lawsuits. In many cases, judges are sympathetic with individuals facing hardship bringing lawsuits against governments seen to have deep pockets. Clear legislative exemptions are particularly appropriate for potential liabilities arising out of Year 2000 issues - the municipalities in most cases did not write the computer code, did not build the embedded systems, and do not have the resources required to provide certainty across the broad range of municipal services.

Year 2000 Project Office and Budget

Project management will be under the guidance of the Director of Risk and Emergency Management who will be responsible for centralizing information relative to the program, ensuring that proper documentation of the City's efforts is maintained, monitoring expenditures, and reporting progress to the CMT and Council.

The upgrading of City's corporate systems will continue to be led by the Chief Information Officer, and Information Technology staff will continue to provide some support for upgrading departmental systems.

Departmental staff will have the responsibility to address departmental systems. In some low priority situations, it may be necessary to accept that some systems will fail, and alternative modes of operation may have to be developed until upgraded systems can be obtained.

Other than the major SAP implementation, which will resolve Year 2000 issues related to the City's financial and human resource systems, the budget for the City's program is relatively modest. Council has authorized a budget of $649,000, largely related to corporate information systems. Within that amount, $75,000 will be allocated to support the Task Force administratively. Initially, a half time support position will be provided for eighteen months.

It should be noted that additional funding may be required to upgrade or replace defective equipment if it is found in essential operations. This cost cannot be predicted in advance. It is worth noting that typically Year 2000 costs for both correction of software problems and replacing hardware have far exceeded initial estimates - the RCMP Internet site notes that the FBI originally budgeted $37 million for their program; part way through the process, $70 million had been spent, and an additional $70 million was requested.


The Year 2000 program approved by Council has made good progress in addressing corporate software systems. It is now appropriate to increase the profile of the program, begin regular reporting to the CMT and Council, attach a high priority to the problem of embedded systems, and begin developing appropriate contingency plans and an appropriate communications program. The structure and work program contained in this report are appropriate to respond to those requirements.

* * * * *

Appendix "A"


The City is committed to the provision of quality services to a reasonably high standard. It is concerned to minimize degradation of services as a result of the transition to the Year 2000. Preparation for the impending transition is an integral and necessary function of the Council and staff of the City of Vancouver. The Year 2000 Task Force, comprising representatives of City Departments, will coordinate the overall workplan.

Within its allocation of limited resources Council will endeavour to minimize disruption to City services as a result of the Year 2000 transition and that reasonable measures are undertaken to minimize any risk of damage or loss to those using City services. Year 2000 preparation and planning will be done in the general interests of the City.

Expenditure approvals will determine and reflect Council's judgment as to the appropriate level of resources to be provided for Year 2000 transition. Implicit in expenditure approvals is the acknowledgement that the City will make reasonable efforts to identify and address risks associated with Year 2000 transition but that the risks are, in many cases, unknown and unpredictable.

The City will endeavour to inform the public of the City's inability to predict and avoid all Year 2000 transition outcomes and, where reasonable, to warn the public of potential service disruptions associated with the Year 2000 transition.

Consistent with this policy and within the scope approved by Council, City staff will work to minimize Year 2000 disruptions within their areas of operation.

Appendix "B"



The Year 2000 Project in the City of Vancouver will be coordinated by the Year 2000 Task Force comprising representatives of City Departments, and chaired by the Director of Risk and Emergency Management

The Year 2000 Project Task Force will coordinate a comprehensive program to ensure that the City takes reasonable measures to identify and address potential Year 2000 issues and to minimize disruption to City services. Year 2000 work will be prioritized and carried out in the best interests of the city as a whole.

The following will be coordinated by the Year 2000 Project Task Force:

· appropriate information and warnings to City customers and to the community about the City's response to Year 2000 and about potential Year 2000 issues as they relate to City services;

· consistent responses to individuals and organizations seeking assurances from the City about the extent of its Year 2000 preparedness and compliance;

· ongoing reporting to City Council and liaison with City staff to ensure they are informed and aware of Year 2000 issues and the status of the City's Year 2000 preparation and response;

· developing reasonable policies, work plans, and schedules to identify and address Year 2000 issues;

· developing strategies to minimize disruption to City services and associated risk exposure resulting from the Year 2000 transition;

· appropriate documentation of the City's efforts to address Year 2000 issues;

· coordinating training and exercises to test contingency and emergency plans relative to the Year 2000 transition;

· coordination with non-city agencies in the planning and response to Year 2000 issues.

- 2 -

In accordance with Council Policy, preparation for the transition to the Year 2000 is an integral and necessary function of the Council and staff of the City. The role of the Year 2000 Project is to provide support and advice to assist departments in achieving a smooth transition to the Year 2000, to minimize disruption to City services, and to minimize risk to the City.

Specifically the Year 2000 Project Task Force will provide assistance, advice and support to departmental staff in:

· Identifying and inventorying City owned/operated equipment, facilities, and systems which may be susceptible to Year 2000 disruption.

· Identifying non-City systems and facilities which the City relies upon and which, if disrupted, may impact City operations.

· Identifying potential Year 2000 disruptions in non-City systems and facilities which, if disrupted, may create emergency conditions within the City area.

· Identifying and inventorying potential Year 2000 issues associated with legal obligations in City contracts or bylaws.

· Evaluating and prioritizing inventory items for testing and remediation either through conversion, modification, replacement or the development of contingency or emergency plans.

· Formalizing liaisons with non-city agencies for the purpose of coordinating Year 2000 strategies.

· Testing contingency plans

The work of the Year 2000 Project will be carried out under the direction of a multi-departmental Year 2000 Task Force.

Time frame



Product / Outcome



August 3, 1998

Prepare Y2K Program documentation.


Policy, Terms of Reference, Work Plan, Budget, description of Y2K resources.


August 4, 1998

Prepare draft Council Report outlining Y2K Program for approval.


Draft Council Report on Y2K Program.


August 6, 1998

Present Y2K Program proposal to Y2K Task Force for input/ approval. Review responsibilities for work items in the Work Program.


Task force comment on Policy, Terms of Reference, Work Plan;


August 18, 1998

Present Y2K proposed Council Report /Y2K Program to CMT for input/approval.


Sept 8, 1998

Present Y2K program proposal to Council


Council approval of Y2K program, including Policy, Terms of Reference, Work Plan, budget, resources


Sept 8 to
Oct 1, 1998

Departments to finalize inventory of potential sources of Y2K issues and record potential impact on City operations of a Y2K problem.

Inventory to include:
City facilities/ equipment (embedded systems)
City information systems (computer software and hardware)
Legal obligations
Non-city systems & hardware which City relies on and which may impact city ops


Inventory of potential y2k issues

The corporate computer systems inventory has been largely compiled and this work will continue under the direction of Larry Meek, the City's Manager Information Technology

Sept 8, 1998

Form small multi-agency group to liaise and coordinate y2k approach. Include reps from the Provincial Emergency Program, UBCM, BCBC. Together develop a set of goals and objectives around y2k (such as mutually compatible contingency plans; sharing of information on y2k compatibility; indemnity protection in legislation etc.)


Group to identify and coordinate cross-jurisdictional issues; group to urge mutually beneficial goals

The dates around formation of the multi-agency group and workshop are optimistic. This piece will depend on the interest and availability of a number of agencies outside the City.

Sept 10, 1998

Task Force meeting - identify potential resources to assist with y2k program; confirm makeup and responsibilities of task force for Council approved Work Plan.


Sept 11, 1998

Coordinate one-day multi-agency workshop to share Y2K strategy in region, including work plans, timetables, anticipated issues etc.
Identify reps from different agencies who City staff can liaise with. Get group to endorse goals and objectives for y2k and assign responsibilities. Set quarterly meeting dates.


Agency liaisons for Y2K.
Broadly endorsed goals and objectives.
Group to push for common solutions.
Shared information base.


Sept 15, 1998

Summarize results of workshop and distribute to City staff.


Description of what other agencies are doing/have done to address y2k; contact list


Oct 1 to Oct 8, 1998

Departments to prioritize inventory for review based on the following potential implications:
- health, environment, life safety, damage to property / financial loss (High Priority)
- inconvenience (Medium)
- minimal impact (Low)


Identification of high priority issues to address.


Oct 8, 1998

Task force meeting - review of inventory, priorities; determine appropriate information / training / resources to assist staff in identifying testing /remediation strategies.


Oct 8 to 28, 1998

Providing training, research, information to staff , where possible, to assist in identifying standards and practices associated with addressing y2k issues.


Oct 8 to Oct 22, 1998

For all high priority items, develop an approach to test for or confirm y2k compliance. This may include developing system tests/ modifications; seeking confirmation from a manufacturer; or drafting modifications to bylaws or contracts.


Action required to ascertain y2k compliance for all high priority items.


Oct 22 to Oct 28, 1998

Identify funds / resources to carry out compliance investigation, testing, and confirmation. Set up schedule for carrying out work, targeting completion by Dec. 31, 1998.


Schedule to ascertain non-compliant or suspect high priority items on inventory by end of 1998.


Nov 5, 1998

Task force meeting - develop and review proposed Council report on status of compliance confirmation work


Nov 17, 1998

Report to Council on proposed actions to ascertain compliance; if necessary request any additional resources needed by departments to test, investigate for y2k compliance.


Council awareness /approval of upcoming tests, bylaw modifications etc.
Adequate funds, resources identified to carry out work.


Oct 28 to Dec 31, 1998

Carry out work according to schedule and identify inventory items which are compliant, non-compliant, or suspect.


Record of investigative action taken.


Dec 3, 1998

Task force meeting - identify issues associated with Work Plan;


Oct 28 - Dec 31, 1998

Update inventory to flag non-compliant or suspect items.


Identification of compliant, non-compliant systems and suspect items.


Jan 7, 1999

Task Force meeting: identify, coordinate /approve training for staff around remediation


Jan 4, 1999 to Jan 30, 1999

Coordinate, as required, provision of expertise, information, research etc. to staff to assist them in identifying remediation techniques


Jan 4, 1999 -Jan 30, 1999

Develop approach to eliminate or minimize risk of y2k failure of all high priority non-compliant and suspect systems. This may include system or equipment modification; replacement of item or acquisition of backup; development of contingency plan in the event of failure etc.


Proposed remedial action for all non-compliant and suspect items.


Jan 30 to Feb 11, 1999

Identify cost, resources and time associated with implementation of remedial approach in each case. Develop remediation schedule targeting completion by May 30th, 1999.


Remediation schedule to address all high priority y2k issues by May 30, 1999


Jan 30, 1999

Coordinate multi-agency workshop to update on status of Y2K work and programs. Share progress. Identify potential problems and remedial plans.


Record of outstanding non-city y2k items that may affect City operations.


Feb 4, 1999

Task Force meeting: Review remediation schedule; review status of outside agency work; develop proposed Council Report


Feb 23, 1999

Report to Council on proposed remedial work schedule and on status of work of non-city agencies. If necessary, obtain approval for any additional funding /resources required by departments to carry out remedial plan..


Council approval of action plan to address. Status report on compliance inside and outside the City.


Feb 23, 1999 to June 30, 1999

Carry out remediation in accordance with Council approved action plan. Coordinate contingency plans within City and with outside agencies.


All high priority inventory items addressed by June, 1999.


March 4, 1999

Task Force meeting - report on progress


April 1, 1999

Task Force meeting - report on progress


May 6, 1999

Task Force meeting - report on progress


May 28,1999

Coordinate multi-agency workshop to review status of remediation. Identify unremediated non-city y2k items which may impact City operations or may result in emergency conditions within the City..


Identification of non-city systems and facilities which may impact City operations or create potential y2k emergencies in Vancouver area.


June 3, 1999

Task Force Meeting - report on progress; status of other agencies


June 1 to August 30, 1999

Coordinate with other agencies and develop emergency or contingency plans to address potential emergencies in Vancouver area from y2k.


Emergency and contingency plans coordinated with other agencies to address y2k issues in region - by August 30, 1999


July 1, 1999

Task Force meeting: report on progress


Aug 5, 1999

Task Force meeting; report on progress; identify training needs; develop training


Sept. 1, 1999

Coordinate muti-agency meeting to review progress; ensure consistency across plans; share proposed training ideas


Sept to Oct, 1999

Remediate low-priority inventory items using same process as outlined for high-priority items ie. Investigation and testing followed by remediation


Y2K low-priority items addressed by end of October, 1999


Sept, 1999

Report to Council on the progress of the program


Sept 2, 1999

Task Force meeting - approve exercises and training to be conducted for City staff ; schedule training


Sept, 1999 to
Dec, 1999

Conduct departmental as well as City-wide training and emergency exercises to test contingency plans and emergency plans in preparation for Year 2000. Adjust plans as necessary.


Staff fully-trained; Contingency, emergency plans tested.


Oct 7, 1999

Task Force meeting; review progress; debrief training and exercises; coordinate with EOC on planning for New Years' Eve


Nov 4, 1999

Task Force meeting; review progress; debrief training and exercises; coordinate with EOC on New Years' Eve planning


Dec 2, 1999

Task Force meeting ; review progress; debrief training and exercises; coordinate with EOC on New Years' eve planning


January 2000

Debrief y2k performance and develop action list of items to address.


Feb 2000 to April 2000

Conduct testing, remediation etc. using process outlined above to ensure outstanding y2k issues are addressed


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