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For 129 years, the Royal Society of Canada did not have a permanent head office. That changed in 2011, when William Leiss, President of the Society from 1999-2001 and Chair of the Committee on Expert Panels from 2008-2011, capped his decades of continuing service to the RSC with a commitment of $500,000 to be applied to the financing of a home for the fellowship. With Bill’s commitment, in September of 2011, the Society acquired a heritage home at 282 Somerset Street West, in Centre town, Ottawa. The building has been named Walter House in honour of Bill’s mother, Ethel Bertha Walter.

Members of the RSC Walter House Committee namely: Chris Loreto - Chair, Maryse Lassonde RSC President, Jean-Marie Toulouse - Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee, David Layzell, Chair of the Committee on Expert Panels and the Institutional member representatives Robert Proulx – Recteur UQAM and David Barnard – President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Manitoba and I, are delighted to inform you the renovation and restoration of Walter House was completed on schedule and on budget during the December vacation period. 

The mandate approved on December 8th by decision of the RSC Finance and Audit committee and Council focused on: 

Bringing Walter House to Code, making it a safe, secure and a healthy environment for the RSC employees and putting the RSC in a good position for where decisions can be made by Council on its income generation potential in the near future.

I presented two proposals to the Finance Committee and then to Council. Following approval I supervised the renovations at Walter House -288 Somerset West. All the electrical is now brought up to code and received certification from the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), the City of Ottawa fire department and the building code inspector and the Water testing authority and the asbestos in the building has been abated. The team of ASCENT Contracting and David Egan the architect-designer who assisted me in obtaining the permit from the City of Ottawa for the four floors of fire escape staircase was excellent. The budget and the timeframes were kept in line with what was approved. 

Change of the IT systems at the office and move to a turn-key Cloud option, with a reasonable fixed monthly rate.

A new IT system for the RSC office emails and electronic files based on the turn-key fixed rate monthly option that I presented to the Finance committee and Council and received approval, was completed on January 15th. The back-up of all the emails and files are here in Canada and the data migration GRADE A. The close-up of the past service contract and the data migration from their rented server was managed smoothly. 

The VOIP phone system transitioned smoothly to VERSATURE.

In consultation with staff I performed a needs and pricing analysis of the VOIP system used at the RSC. To ensure increased efficiencies and reductions in costs, the seventeen lines of the VOIP phones were reduced to ten, thus maintaining a service that we require and has room for expansion in the future depending on needs and resources. 

On behalf of the Walter House Committee, we thank all our Fellows, College members and Institutional members for your generous donations to the Walter House Campaign in 2015. 

Please come and visit when you are in Ottawa and feel at home.