Saanich celebrates Public Works Week 2021!

May 20, 2021

What do pipes, trucks, broken water mains, greener garbage and all things in between have in common? Public works!

May 16 to 22 is National Public Works Week, and with 2020 having been the year that it was, we are more grateful than ever for the service that our team provides! While COVID-19 has brought us all some challenges, we have also seen just how important public works is to our staff and the community.

Throughout this pandemic, public works has kept Saanich going strong while adapting to physical distancing guidelines and new health and safety measures. While we all appreciate the team every day, Public Works Week is a chance to officially celebrate their dedication and commitment. This year, the theme is “Stronger Together” and we are highlighting some of the ways the public works team keeps us going each day.

Thanks, public works! You are at the heart of Saanich – from roads and transportation to healthy drinking water and sanitation. Public works is there!

We also want to thank the community and Saanich residents for your patience and understanding while we work to keep services running during these challenging times.

We have a number of staff profiles in recognition of the week, have a read below and find out about these dedicated individuals! 

Waterworks  |  Sign Shop  |  Horticulture  |  Support Services

What is your name, position, section you work for? 

Ryan Jennings, Senior Instrumentation Technician, Waterworks Section.

How long have you worked at Saanich?

I have worked here for 20 years.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

One of my favorite activities is strength and conditioning training. I also love the outdoors and camping.

What background lead you to your current position?

Before my career at Saanich, I obtained my electrical certification and studied computer science at Camosun College. My first opportunity at Saanich was in the Waterworks Department. A few years later, I moved to the Electrical Department when a position became available. Within the Electrical Department, I had the chance to work with a team developing SCADA (Supervisory, Control and Data Acquisition) process systems. My love for technology, electrical background and experience with utility operations are a perfect match for the work I am doing with SCADA. I am now back in the Waterworks section integrating process technology with SCADA for Storm & Wastewater and Water Utilities.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Currently, I am involved with the SCADA (Supervisory, Control and Data Acquisition) upgrade project while working closely with various departments. The SCADA system monitors all the activity within the municipalities Storm & Wastewater and Water Utilities. My duties include programming and installing computer software and equipment, maintaining RTU’s (Remote Telemetry Units), configuring radio networks and upgrading instrumentation. I also have the pleasure of working with a great group of colleagues.

Tell us about one of your most memorable projects or situations.

A fun project that I was involved with was at the Gordon Head Recreation Centre. This project was different from my typical work. The mission was to install a variable speed drive for the lazy river. This upgrade allows better control over the water speed, ensuring maximum fun without causing a tsunami!

What do you enjoy about your job?

I love the technical challenges of my job. Every project is unique and diverse in location. My job offers a balance between working inside and outside the office. Saanich is one of the best places to live and I feel grateful to live and work within the municipality.

What’s your most valued ‘go-to’ piece of equipment, why?

COVID-19 has presented many challenges in the workplace. The ability for in-person meetings and group collaboration has been difficult due to social distancing measures. To overcome this obstacle, Saanich has deployed Microsoft Teams. Teams, a video conferencing application, has been a valuable collaboration tool. Distance is no longer a barrier and I use this software almost every day.

What is one thing nobody would know about your job or fun fact about your job/section?

The SCADA system spans to the furthest reaches of the municipality. The infrastructure monitored consists of 4 Reservoirs, 15 Pressure reducing stations, 5 Monitoring stations, 12 Water pump stations and 37 Sewage lift stations. These stations combined have more than 2,900 actively monitored alarm conditions.

If there is one thing you’d like residents to know about your job, what would that be?

I work with talented individuals from multiple departments. These individuals often work after hours to keep the utilities running encase of an emergency. The SCADA system is actively monitoring the various stations for potential problems. SCADA, combined with dedicated staff, ensures everything runs smoothly and efficiently.

 

 

What is your name, position, section you work for?

Megan Baxter, Operations Sign and Graphic Technician, Signs and Markings Section.

How long have you worked at Saanich?

7 months

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I really enjoy creating all sorts of art including pencil sketches and epoxy work. I also enjoy hiking and can’t wait to travel again!

What background lead you to your current position?

Before Saanich I worked at a local sign shop and gained a lot of experience through them. I have also always been naturally artistic and very hands-on so this position fits me perfectly.

What does a typical day look like for you?

In the mornings usually check my email, look over my to-do list and begin with some computer work. By the afternoons I might put some signage into production like printing graphics, cutting vinyl or putting signs together in the shop. Some days I will leave the office to mark roads for underground checks, visit jobsites or complete installs but every day can be different!

Tell us about one of your most memorable projects or situations.

One of my favourite projects so far was the police wrap on their new SUV. Everything worked out perfect for that one!

What do you enjoy about your job?

The variety! I am never bored, this position keeps me on my toes and I have a sense of accomplishment when the day is done.

What’s your most valued ‘go-to’ piece of equipment, why?

The Gerber Edge! I had never used one before working with Saanich. It’s a bit of a relic and came with a learning curve but so handy! The graphics come out vibrant, completely dry and it cuts as well.

What is one thing nobody would know about your job or fun fact about your job/section?

We have the most amazing team! I was given a warm welcome and enjoy working with everyone in the Signs and Markings department and Public Works as a whole! I also can’t wait until we don’t need to wear masks so I can see what everyone actually looks like.

If there is one thing you’d like residents to know about your job, what would that be?

I enjoy interacting with people. To hear a resident appreciative of the work we do always goes a long way!

 

What is your name, position, section you work for?

Andrew Duffels, Horticulturist, Parks department, Horticulture Section

How long have you worked at Saanich?

13 years.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

Hiking/walking, cycling, camping, reading, tabletop gaming, watching UFC, bonsai.

What background lead you to your current position?

I was previously an aspiring chef but I found that environment to be highly stressful. I started out doing landscaping and garden maintenance  for a couple of private businesses, then decided to go to Camosun college for horticulture.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I primarily maintain the grounds of the municipal hall, pruning shrubs, pulling weeds, spreading mulch, battling pests, as well as designing and planting the seasonal floral displays. I start at 7am, blow the parking lot and foot paths as needed, feed the koi and goldfish, and proceed to do what needs to be done to keep the grounds as safe and attractive as possible.

Tell us about one of your most memorable projects or situations.

Before I was a Horticulturist, as a Parks Worker I helped to repaint Caddy the Cadborosaurus in Gyro park.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I appreciate that my job is a creative outlet for me and keeps me physically active and outdoors. I get to spend my days in parks and gardens and I feel connected with nature and the community.

What’s your most valued ‘go-to’ piece of equipment, why?

Secateurs, a Hori Hori-style garden knife/trowel, and a narrow steel shrub rake for getting into tight spots. Oh, and a bucket, you’ve gotta have a bucket.

What is one thing nobody would know about your job or fun fact about your job/section?

Every year we have mallard ducks and swallows nesting at the Hall. This year I was able to help 3 batches of mallard ducklings (26 in total!) and their mommas to stay together and safely make their journey from the ponds on the property, through the parking lot, to Swan lake nature sanctuary.

If there is one thing you’d like residents to know about your job, what would that be?

I grow lots of herbs and veggies here as well. The gardens at the  Municipal Hall are here for everybody to enjoy, so come by and check them out.

 

 

The glue holding it all together is our fantastic support services team!
Here are some numbers for 2020 that you may find interesting:

  • Phone calls answered/handled – 24000 
  • Calls For Service entered –  11,604
  • First Aid assistance – 122
  • First Aid training completed: 5
  • Training sessions booked/coordinated – Fit testing, 4 TCP courses
  • Contract Services hired excluding block bookings – 5109 days
  • Call List employee shifts schedule – 3500
  • Traffic Advisories completed: 229
  • Water shut down notifications sent:  274
  • P-cards statements completed: Over 864
  • Dead Animal Calls/CFS entered: 289