Town manager wears more than one hat

The executive members of the Newfoundland and Labrador chapter of the CPWA. From left: Glen Dollimount (Secretary), Leon MacIsaac (President), Jennifer Norris (Vice-President), Jim Moore (National Delegate), Rick Wells (Treasurer). – submitted photo

PORT AUX BASQUES – When he’s not busy fulfilling his role as Town Manager for Channel-Port aux Basques, Leon MacIsaac also serves as President for the Newfoundland and Labrador chapter of the Canadian Public Works Association (CPWA) and also serves on the Board of Directors. The organization boasts 2250 members across Canada and is associated with the American Public Works Association (APWA).

As its name suggests, the associations are involved with such things as roads, bridges, sidewalks, drinking water, waste water, emergency management, snow removal and a host of other activities.

“Anybody who’s in public works, we try to cover all that off,” said MacIsaac during a recent phone interview. “CPWA and APWA, we’re sort of like the device for public works for all municipalities and cities across Canada and we lobby with Ottawa, and of course the US as well with their Senate, to try and direct as much money as we can towards public works initiatives to improve roads and infrastructure. It does get to be the battle sometimes to try to get that kind of funding.”

The goal is to share new technology, new information, and find different ways to work together to lobby government for funding for public works initiatives.

Town council considers the association’s considerable resources and networking enough that during its last public meeting on Monday, July 20, it voted unanimously that MacIsaac continue serving on the CPWA board.

MacIsaac says he likes to think his role on the board has benefited the town he serves.

“It’s not just my presence. Anybody who’s involved with public works, locally and across the province, we all get together and we go through different ideas and strategies we can use,” explained MacIsaac.

That exchange and constant flow of information allows members to take advantage of each other’s expertise and resources.

“We always say that we don’t know all the answers,” said MacIsaac. “If you’ve come across something, if we don’t know it we’ll find an answer for you, or you may be doing something that we don’t know and we’d like to know what it is.”

Over and above the benefit of being an association member, MacIsaac says he enjoys his role there. There are plenty of subcommittees and resources and networking to keep him busy.

“We’re always looking at new initiatives across Canada. Every year there’s always new technologies coming about or somebody has a new way of doing stuff that we certainly do like to bring some attention to.”

MacIsaac says that the current focus is on more funding initiatives for public works wherever possible, in particular by working closely with American senators, and federal and provincial ministers.

Another benefit to membership is that when a municipality cannot afford to send its representative to a conference for learning and networking, the CPWA can usually offer help to offset costs through the operating fund.

“All that money is always rotated back to the members for their benefit or scholarships for their children or for them to get their own education initiatives up as well.”

For more information, please visit the CPWA or APWA websites.

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