Town Welcomes New Director Of Infrastructure
Approximately six months ago, the Town of Vermilion welcomed new Director of Infrastructure, Ben McPhee. Originally from Brooks, McPhee worked in Olds before coming to Vermilion.
“The sense of community in municipalities of this size has always been a draw for myself and my family. On the professional side, municipalities of this size and roles such as this often means that there are ‘many different hats’ a person wears in a day, which keeps the job interesting and fast paced,” said McPhee.
He has his C.E.T in Civil Engineering Technologies and is working towards obtaining his P.Tech (Eng) this year. His extensive background in infrastructure began as a summer student and labourer installing water pipelines and canals for an irrigation district. From there, he worked with a civil engineering consulting firm who specialized in municipal infrastructure and development.
“With them I completed new development and subdivision projects, rural and regional water lines, and municipal reconstruction projects. From consulting I then took on a roll for the Town of Olds that looked after their major infrastructure projects and infrastructure management. With Olds I helped foster new development coming in as well as reconstruction driven by the Town,” commented McPhee.
His role in Vermilion entails many different aspects ranging from planning and development, to managing and airport, public works and utilities, and everything in between. Projects McPhee is involved in working with the Town include some street replacement programs for upcoming years; meaning upgrading roads that are currently at a gravel state and paving them. They are also working on a plan to replace the sewer trunk main.
“One of the major challenges that comes with this role and is not unique to Vermilion is the funding gap for infrastructure. Budget dollars are scarce, and the infrastructure needs are large, and this is a problem that every municipality is encountering right now with inflation and high demand for work,” said McPhee. “However, when there is difficulty, there comes adversity with creative solutions and partnerships which helps keep things interesting and moving forward. Finding these solutions and providing more value for the funding available is what makes it all worthwhile.”
Since February McPhee’s favourite part about Vermilion has been the people. He said everyone in the community has been very welcoming and wonderful to work with.
“My wife and two daughters have relocated to the area very recently, and are settling in quite nicely to the area. I am getting settled into the new position now, and am getting a better understanding of the Town. It will take a full year to get a handle on everything as I learn Town events, seasonal work, detailed infrastructure knowledge sharing, and other miscellaneous items as they come up, said McPhee. “My initial experience with the Town has been amazing. I couldn’t have been more fortunate than to be working with such a great group of people,” explained McPhee.