Region of Peel's NPWW celebrations focus on community and staff

Ric Robertshaw, P.Eng.
Director, Operations and Maintenance
Regional Municipality of Peel
Brampton, Ontario

At the Region of Peel, National Public Works Week is celebrated and well-received by both Regional staff and members of the community they proudly serve. With a population of over one million people, creating a buzz and getting residents to participate in events challenges organizers to be more creative in their approach.

Peel's Public Works Department consists of a team of technical professionals who ensure the delivery of essential services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Responsible for providing water, wastewater, solid waste and a regional roadway program for over one million residents, Peel is proud of its Public Works Department and the professionals who rise to the challenge of protecting essential services to ensure a safe and healthy community.

"In order to demonstrate our skills and our quiet commitment to the community, I believe it's important to get out into the public through community events like this," says Peel's Commissioner of Public Works, Mitch Zamojc, P.Eng. "Public works employees are highly trained, technical and scientific professionals who deliver not just services, but a quality of life."
 
National Public Works Week 2004 - OPWA Bruce Brunton Award Winners
Regional Council proclaimed May 16-22, 2004 National Public Works Week. To celebrate the official theme of "Focused on Our Community: 24/7," the Region of Peel's events emphasized community involvement. These events included public outreach opportunities, educational events such as tours, fundraising for the United Way, community participation, and staff and political involvement. Each of these creatively-organized events was an integral component of our successful National Public Works Week celebration.

Focused on Community: that's where it starts! The celebration began with a large-scale open house that showcased the Public Works Department's vehicles and equipment, programs and projects. Over 2,000 residents attended our most successful open house to date to celebrate with the Region of Peel. To highlight community involvement, Enbridge Gas Distribution participated in the event, offering a Children's Fun Tent and barbecue services. The Engineering and Construction Division held a bridge building contest for children 6-12 years of age. Children submitted bridges made from materials as diverse as pasta and straws, and were judged on creative use of material and structural stability. The contest was an excellent opportunity for residents to make the connection that Public Works is responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of Regional roads.

The Bridge Building contests help link Public Works staff to the citizens they serve.

The Region of Peel, along with the Ontario Clean Water Agency, operates two water treatment facilities on the shore of Lake Ontario. Tours of the Lorne Park Water Treatment Facility allowed residents to learn firsthand how their drinking water is treated. Many residents expressed their appreciation for the clean, safe drinking water the Region provides for the residents of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon.

A teaching garden, located at the Brampton Community Recycling Centre, is used throughout the year for tours and workshops on composting, water efficiency and waterwise gardening. Approximately 1,500 people attending the Gardening Extravaganza held here during National Public Works Week took part in various workshops and tours, a free barbecue and a perennial plant sale, with all profits going to the United Way of Peel Region.

Peel was also present in each area municipality of Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. Displays showcasing Public Works services were set up at malls and community centres throughout the week. At the Erin Mills Town Centre in Mississauga, a group of Girl Guides attended an evening presentation on water treatment and water efficiency to receive their water badge. This event very successfully encouraged children visiting the mall with their parents to sit down with the group and engage in discussions about water treatment and how to use water efficiently.

Focused on staff, the people who make it happen... Staff appreciation lunches were held at the eight Public Works facilities. Over 600 union and non-union staff were credited with another year of a job well done. These staff appreciation events allowed senior management to illustrate how proud Public Works is of their staff who rise to the daily challenge of protecting essential services and ensure a safe and healthy community. The festivities included lunch organized by each facility, an appreciation gift to staff, 50/50 draws with donations to the United Way of Peel, and prize raffles.

Councillors, the Region's CAO, the Public Works Commissioner and Directors celebrate the successes of the organization.

The focus was not only on Public Works staff. Events were organized to promote Public Works' services to staff from other departments throughout the Region of Peel. Gilligan's Island-themed tours were held at two popular facilities—the Lakeview Water Treatment Facility (the second water treatment facility in Peel) and the Caledon Landfill, where the Herhof Biocell Composting technology was showcased. Nearly 100 staff attended these informative and enjoyable events.

Staff witnessed how the Herhof processes organic material collected from over 12,000 households within the Town of Caledon and North Brampton. After approximately seven to ten days, the material is removed from the biocell. The material is cured outside for 30-45 days. The finished compost is screened and made available for sale to the public.

The bus tour to the Lakeview Water Treatment Facility highlighted the expansion and installation of ZENON ZeeWeed 1000 membrane technology. This expansion project will be the largest low-pressure, ultra-filtration membrane plant in the world.

The annual Truck Driving Rodeo was another fun-filled staff event. This event invites truck drivers from Peel, Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga to compete for the coveted title of 2004 Truck Driving Rodeo Champion. The participants must complete a driving course that tests the driver's skills such as reversing, short distance stopping and manoeuvring through a serpentine. A written test is also administered. Performance is calculated and a winner is crowned.

Political Involvement. The support of Public Works Senior Management and Regional Council was a key factor in promotion of National Public Works Week. Commissioner Zamojc embraced this occasion to celebrate achievement and showcase the tools of the trade to the public we so proudly serve. "For me, it's also about showing appreciation for the people behind the service," says the Commissioner.

  The Region of Peel accepts the 2004 Bruce Brunton Trophy.

Regional Council, which includes three Mayors and 18 Councillors, were invited to participate in all events held during National Public Works Week. Of key note, political members were on hand to award the Truck Driving Rodeo Trophy and to assist with cake cutting and distribution at the open house.

The Region of Peel was proud to accept the Ontario Public Works Association's (APWA's Ontario Chapter) Bruce Brunton Award. The Bruce Brunton Award encourages municipalities to participate in National Public Works Week and to demonstrate excellence in their programs and events that create awareness of the public works profession and the important role that all public works employees play in the everyday health and well-being of the public. Selection was based on creation of awareness of the public works profession, relevance to current-day public works, lasting impact on the public works industry and the participating municipality, and originality. The Region of Peel is honoured to receive this recognition.

Planning has already begun for National Public Works Week 2005. This year's theme is "Public Works is Everywhere You Look." The Region of Peel will take this opportunity to enhance relationships with the community and to ensure that the public continues to view the public works profession as one that is caring, responsible, and provides valuable and reliable services to the community.

Ric Robertshaw was named one of APWA's Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year in 2001. He can be reached at (905) 791-7800 or at ric.robertshaw@peelregion.ca.

Editor's Note: How are you planning to celebrate National Public Works Week in 2005? We'd love to hear from you—just go to the NPWW website at www.apwa.net/npww and click on "Tell us about your NPWW outreach."

In the meantime, in case you haven't made any plans, keep in mind that the APWA staff is here to help. If you would like a "How To" guide for planning your NPWW activities, please let us know. Just call us at (800) 848-APWA or send an e-mail to Jon Dilley, Manager of Marketing and Graphic Design, at jdilley@apwa.net.