Why City Council needs an Engineer

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One of my enduring memories from my childhood is travelling to Disneyland. As we drove across southern California, I was fascinated by the infrastructure around me. What does that ramp do? How do you build a bridge that long, or a building that tall? The elegant lines of Dodger Stadium were of particular appeal, and it is still one of my favorite structures.

These childhood experiences are what led me to a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Alberta. I emerged from the U of A with the technical acumen to build those roads, bridges and buildings that so fascinated me as a young boy. A degree in how to construct all the things that make up a City.

During these university years, I realized how fortunate I was to live in a city, a country where I had all the opportunity one could ask for. The opportunity to get a world class education. The opportunity to work and earn a living doing the things I love to do. The opportunity to raise a family. And I realized that I had a responsibility to give back to this wonderful community. To use my talents and abilities and new found skills to make my neighborhood an even better place to live.

Quite apart from being an engineer, I began my community service in high school – over three decades ago, as a volunteer with the World University Games. I continued that service throughout my adult life – in support of my professional association, APEGA. As a hockey and soccer coach. As president of the Riverbend Community League and Terwillegar Riverbend Advisory Board. And on countless community consultation committees, in support of the Terwillegar Recreation Centre, the Go Centre, the Community Theatre at Lillian Osborne, high speed transit to west Edmonton, the widening of the Quesnell Bridge and Whitemud Drive, the development of Terwillegar Drive, and of Buses, Trails and Pathways in Edmonton. In all of these activities, I was pleased to offer my skills as an engineer in service of my community.

When I graduated from Civil Engineering, I joined a profession, a brotherhood of public service. When one graduates from an engineering program from a Canadian University, one participates in the Ritual Calling of the Engineer. This ritual reminds engineers of their Obligation. While this Obligation is not secret, it is private. It reads, in part, as follows:

“My time I will not refuse; My Thought I will not grudge; My care I will not deny… My reputation in my Calling I will honorably guard.”

These aspects of being an engineer have resonated with me all of my life. That Obligation validated for me what my life has been about – giving back to the greater good, making my community better, contributing where I can.

As a professional, licensed engineer, I am bound by a Code of Ethics. The first paragraph of that code reads, in part, as follows:

“Professional Engineers shall hold paramount the health, safety and welfare of the public…”

This means that, no matter what, the public good trumps all. It does not matter if I got paid for my services or not. It does not matter if I am stuck in traffic, or my child was sick, or I was busy. The public good trumps all, in every aspect of my life.

As a City Councillor, I would be responsible for making policy decisions today that consider operating and investment choices to address deficiencies in our city today. But I would also be charged with making policy decisions that shape our tomorrow – that shape the city that our children will inherit.

I have spent almost thirty years of my life designing and building and delivering infrastructure projects. I have spent those years building my professional reputation, honing my craft, and holding the public paramount. I have done this because my personality, my make up, my upbringing has brought me to this place. I am driven to find solutions to infrastructure problems, to find that next best investment opportunity, to examine new solutions to existing problems. To lead teams to consensus decisions. It is my nature.

Which is why I am bested suited to be your next Ward 9 City Councillor. Councillors must hold paramount the welfare of the constituents they serve. I already do that. Councillors must understand how City building works, how infrastructure projects are managed, how bridges and roads and buildings are built. I already do that too. Being a City of Edmonton Councillor is that wonderful collision for the two most important parts of me as a person – serving my community, and building better cities.