Dream job snags P.A.’s public works director

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Prince Albert public works director Colin Innes is seen in the city hall atrium on Tuesday, a day after he learned that he’s landed a “dream job” as director of public works and utilities in Nelson, B.C. 

Satisfied with city hall’s solid administrative team, Mayor Greg Dionne said that he was surprised to learn on Monday that public works director Colin Innes is leaving.

 

On Monday, it was made official that Innes has been hired as public works and utilities director in Nelson, British Columbia.

“He’s certainly excited about going to Nelson, so there’s no offering or talking him out of it -- he’s going to Nelson, British Columbia, and there’s nothing else to it,” Dionne said.

“It’s a sad day for us … Both the city manager and myself were looking forward to moving our infrastructure program ahead with Colin. He has the knowledge and the skill to do the job, so of course he’s hard to replace.”

On Tuesday, Innes said that while he’s tickled pink to land his dream job in Nelson -- a small city surrounded by mountains that rarely sees temperatures drop below freezing -- it’ll be tough leaving the people he’s met and worked with during his 11 years in Prince Albert.

It’s in Prince Albert where he built his career, entering municipal management by getting the wastewater treatment plant manager position on March 3, 2003.

In 2006 he applied for and received the public works director position that he has held since.

Although Innes’s last day will be on July 2, he will leave a lasting legacy with the ever-improving state of city streets.

“We used to be much more dashboard survey, where when the snow melted we look out and see what blew up,” Innes said of roadways management.

“One of the things that we implemented that I think is a very positive advancement for the city is that we treat it as more of an asset and use asset management.

“There’s a more complex scoring that’s done and what we’re doing is to try and get the greatest value we can out of the dollars we put into it,” he said.

He’s certainly excited about going to Nelson, so there’s no offering or talking him out of it -- he’s going to Nelson, British Columbia, and there’s nothing else to it. Mayor Greg Dionne

Rather than only fix the worst-of-the-worst roads, the city is now able to do more preventative maintenance, he explained.

“You’re able to sustain the quality of the asset, so ultimately it’s a better approach and a more cost effective approach.”

Last year’s city council decision to almost double the annual asphalt paving program to $4 million also helped matters greatly, Innes noted.

Although the state of city roads is one of his proudest achievements, Innes is not one to take full credit for it.

“I’m pretty much only as good as my people have been, and I’ve got really excellent support,” he said.

“I’m really excited to go to Nelson because I love it there, but it’s also hard because I’ve met some really good people here and have had some excellent people work for me.

“I’ve got hugs today already and a whole bunch of emails from people, and it’s really heartwarming, but it’s also the hard part because it kind of chokes you up, because I really like these people.”

Innes met his wife, Shawna Lukowski, in Prince Albert and the two are moving to Nelson with their seven-year-old daughter Ayla, whom Innes said is excited to live so close to mountains.

Dionne said that there are staff members in the public works department ready and willing to step on an interim basis to fill in for Innes until the city finds a new public works director.

“Moving ahead, I know if we have an issue we can always call him,” Dionne said, with Innes nodding in agreement.

Geographic location: British Columbia, Prince Albert

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