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New city engineering head moves fast to promote women, push green, use 311 more

July 20th, 2010 · 20 Comments

Peter Judd only got named as the head of engineering about 10 days ago, but he’s already moving on his ideas, as this internal memo that “anonymous” sent me shows.

I am thrilled to have been asked to lead our great Department. Before too much time passes I want to take a few moments to share with you my vision for Engineering as we move ahead and announce some key changes.

 The next few years will be a transformative time.

 To chart a path we will soon be embarking on a process to renew our strategic plan. In the meantime there are four basic objectives which we will focus on and that will guide our efforts. The objectives are to:

        1. Be recognized as the most progressive, innovative and forward thinking municipal public works provider in the world.

        2. Be transparent to Council, our citizens and our employees in how we operate.

        3. Be aligned with Council’s objectives and direction.

        4. Optimize strategic partnerships and connections and be team players inside and outside the department and city.

 To help move us quickly toward these objectives I am very pleased to announce the appointment of two new Division Heads:

 Karyn Magnusson

           I am delighted to announce the appointment of Karyn Magnusson to the Departmental Services position. I am proud to be able to appoint her – our first female division head ever. Karyn’s experience and skills in our department and with the VSR project have prepared her well to take on this role. Her appointment also helps our senior management team begin to reflect the diversity of our community which is essential for our continued credibility as an organization. (And also supports objective 1)

           Karyn’s portfolio will include the existing suite of Departmental services branches as well as Projects and Land Survey.

           One of Karyn’s key priorities will be to guide Equipment’s current initiative to map out how we will radically change the make up of our fleet to support our goals around Green House Gas emissions and to support emerging zero emission technologies.

 Paul Henderson

           Paul has proven himself over the years. The Landfill gas project, which evolved over Paul’s tenure, is the single biggest reason why the City has met its Kyoto green house gas targets. Most recently everyone will be familiar with Paul’s tireless efforts to make the Olympics the success it was.

           Paul will be heading up a new portfolio, which for now I call “Strategic Initiatives”. It is time to really take a serious look at what drives us and what we need to do to be a valued player in the City Organization. Paul’s focus will be a new strategic plan that aligns us with the overall city business plan. He will also oversee the development of green plans for each branch that will lay out how every aspect of our work will demonstrate world leadership in sustainability. Paul will also move us to be much better communicators externally on the innovation we are capable of but not necessarily known for.

 In these two appointments you will have noticed that some of the Deputy’s roles have been subsumed by the new roles. I will be retaining the labour relations portfolio in order to strengthen connections with our unions as part of realizing objective 4. Consequently we will not have a Deputy City Engineer for the foreseeable future and I have made some adjustments to existing portfolios at the Division Head level as follows:

 Jerry Dobrovolny

           Jerry will retain the Transportation portfolio. However, in recognition of the high profile and onerous responsibilities that come with the position, it will be reclassified to be the “Director of Transportation”. This position is consistent with the Director of Planning role and should be compensated at a higher level than it has been.

           I am asking Jerry to reorganize the Transportation Division to ensure that our resources, our creativity and our energy better reflect the priorities that this and previous councils have given us.

 Neal Carley

           Neal will retain the Streets portfolio and in addition will pick up some responsibilities around the series of labour initiatives already underway with CUPE 1004. There are a number of issues we need to work hard to resolve and which, with Neal’s, our Superintendant’s and Cupe 1004’s help, we have already made good progress toward.

 Brian Crowe

           Brian will retain the Sewer and Water portfolio and will manage the rapidly evolving Neighbourhood Energy file. There is enormous potential for the City to be a leader in energy utilities. Specifically we are going to look at alternative energy sources at a neighbourhood level, as well as alternate ownership models potentially including multi-stakeholder co-operatives. Brian’s experience with South East False Creek positions him well to help us explore and realize these emerging opportunities.

 Rowan Birch

           Rowan will now focus exclusively on Solid Waste, and in the short term the regional Solid Waste Management Plan. There is good alignment at the City and in the region that can take us beyond simply landfilling as a solution to managing future residuals. In our own city, there is a lot of work to be done over the next year to implement full kitchen waste composting, explore single stream recycling, and completely reinvent our solid waste, composting and recycling collection.

In addition to the above positions, I am also developing a new position at a high level that, for a period of time, will help us with a number of key initiatives related to   Objectives 2 and 3. Transparency and alignment demand far different mechanisms for budgeting and reporting than we currently have at our disposal. At the moment it is not easily clear to Council what we are spending on their priorities of walking and cycling. As well there is no apparent connection between what we spend on operating vs on capital.

 In addition, we have no real measures with which to manage our organization on an ongoing basis. From week to week we have no idea whether we are doing better or worse than budget, we don’t have a grasp on how much work is being done, we aren’t capturing all the benefits of 311 and we have no good mechanisms to assess the value of our various programs. Hansen provides us with a tool to do much better reporting and this new position will help us achieve the promise of Hansen and provide the transparency that we, our council and our citizens need.

 I firmly believe that given where we are now, we CAN be the most progressive, the most innovative and the most sustainable Public Works department in the world. I know many of you are keenly interested in sustainable initiatives. I’m looking forward to working with you all and making this the most rewarding and engaging time in our department’s long history.

 In the next few months I will be getting around to all parts of our organization to talk with you in more detail about the objectives I have described, and hear what you think we can do to make these real on the ground.

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