Women in Public Works 2020


Dates and Locations:

March 5th, 2020 – Shadbolt Centre, Burnaby BC

March 10th – Marriott Inner Harbour, Victoria, BC

Workshop Description:

This session is a inspiring professional learning and networking event for all public works leaders or leaders in male-dominated industries. Our theme this year follows International Women’s Day with #EachforEqual:

An equal world is an enabled world.

Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.

Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.

Let’s all be #EachforEqual



Charmaine Hammond – she started her career as a Corrections Officer (yes in jails) and is now a Corporate Dispute Resolution Expert who teaches the principles of collaboration, communication, conflict resolution and resilience.  She has mediation experience and has been called into communities that have experienced disasters to help with the rebuilding resilience and recovery process. Charmaine has a Master’s Degree in Conflict Management & Analysis, a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and is an author of five books.

Registration Fee:

#225 each or group rate of $200 for four or more (plus GST)


Please complete your registration using these links:

Burnaby, March 5th: https://events.eply.com/2020WIPWBurnaby

Victoria, March 10th: https://events.eply.com/2020WIPWVictoria



BCCGA Dig Safe Seminar – 3 workshops



February 4th, 2020 – Abbotsford, BC

February 5th, 2020 – Vancouver, BC

March 10th, 2020 – Kamloops, BC


Feb 4th – Quality Hotel, 36035 North Parallel Road, Abbotsford, BC
Feb 5th – Italian Cultural Centre, 3075 Slocan Street, Vancouver BC
March 10th – Coast Hotel, 1250 Rogers Way, Kamloops BC
Workshop Description:

This session includes:

  • A Word from BCCGA
  • BC One Call Overview and Update
  • Best Practices in Ground Disturbance (Industry & Regulator Perspective)
  • Case Study
  • Line Locating Overview
  • Outdoor Practical Demonstrations

Registration Fee:


This Seminar qualifies for EOCP 0.6 CEUs and BC Housing 7.25 CPDs


Call 1.855.321.3211 or online at:  http://www.globaltrainingcentre.com


New Solar Lighting Systems for City of Vancouver


Vancouver, B.C., Canada – The City of Vancouver’s Arbutus Greenway now has solar lighting systems from Canadian-based company Urban Solar. This intelligent lighting system will enhance the city’s urban landscape contributing to a vibrant and beautiful public space for walking and cycling.

Urban Solar’s team created a customized solution using Solar LED Lighting (SLL) series units placed at strategic intervals between W 33rd Ave. and W 37th Ave.
Completely off-grid, the system requires no trenching or utility hookup, meaning a quicker
installation and that the lighting won’t be affected by power outages. The ECM Connect™ feature utilizes wireless connectivity to provide several new lighting control features and benefits for reliability.
“Sustainability is a core value at Urban Solar. Public projects like the City of Vancouver’s Arbutus Greenway are why we got into this industry to start with and we’re excited to be a part of it,” says Jeff Peters, the company’s president.
According to its Greenest City Action Plan, “Vancouver is rising to meet the green transportation challenge by creating compact neighbourhoods with higher density to provide easy access to
work, shopping and recreation. The City has shifted
investment to walking, cycling and transit infrastructure instead of building new roads.”
Among the latest of these investments is the Arbutus Greenway. Since the City acquired the stretch of land, which runs from the False Creek area to the Fraser on the un- ceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-
Waututh First Nations, an exciting program of improvements and innovative upgrades have
been bringing the greenway up to current standards for accessibility, safety and aesthetics.
The public bid process for this project took into consideration Vancouver’s goals to be a green city and required the use of UL (Underwriters Laboratories) system level certification. With a corporate focus on sustainability, and industry-leading, UL-certified systems, Urban Solar was awarded this multi-year contract.

Press contact: Charlotte O’Reilly | marketing@urbansolarcorp.com | 250-884-3366

Gender Parity in Public Works


It is refreshing to see women’s issues raising to the fore with highly publicized, Hollywood-led campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp. For the first time in a long time, women’s issues are headline news on a global scale. March 8th is International Women’s Day and this year the theme was #PressForProgress; it’s a reminder to keep motivated and demand gender parity.

Vancouver Island celebrates these phenomenal women in public works #PressForProgress!

Vancouver Island celebrates these phenomenal women in public works #PressForProgress!

So, where are we now? The World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report reviewed the gaps between women and men in four key categories: health, education, economy and politics. It found that the global gender gap stands at 68 per cent, meaning that globally women are 32 per cent less equal to men in the aforementioned categories.

Interestingly, Canada and the U.S. were ranked as the 16th and 49th most equal countries respectively out of the 144 countries indexed. Both of them scored comparatively well when it came to economic parity with Canada ranked as 10th most equal (73 per cent parity) and the U.S. ranked 3rd (75 per cent parity). However, when looking at contextual data relevant to public works, both countries demonstrated that they were doing a poor job of encouraging women to enter into post secondary degrees that generate the public works leaders of tomorrow with only 22 and 19 per cent of engineering and construction graduates being female in Canada and the U.S. This is important because one of the keys to closing the economic opportunity gap has been identified as having more women in charge. The report shows that when women are participating in leadership roles, more women are hired right across the board at all levels.

There is no better time for us in the public works arena to use International Women’s Day as an opportunity to unite, celebrate and advocate for women in public works. With this in mind, I took the opportunity to speak to three female public works leaders in my chapter and asked them what they think it takes to be a successful woman in our industry, what changes they have seen and how we can advocate for more women in our field.

What attracted you to Public Works?

Susan: It’s important work, elemental to society. I also like working with practical, resourceful people who take pride in doing a great job. People in public works like to get stuff done!

Jen: I never thought about becoming an engineer. There was a boy in my class who was going to pursue a career in engineering, I thought, “I can do that too.” My other options would have been a lawyer or a doctor; I am glad I opted for engineer. It is so rewarding to serve my community.

Nikii: When I was given the opportunity to do construction for the greater good—as opposed to completely for profit—it was a great fit for me.

What do you think women bring to public works?

Susan: Women advocate for new approaches, and have great problem solving and listening skills.

Jen: A totally different perspective and an ability to marry community with operations. Women have real insight when it comes to what the community wants. Women’s ideas make their community better to live in. I dis-like the attitude of “we do it this way because we’ve been doing this way for ever;” women can change that.

Nikii: Honestly, what we bring to the field is no different to what men in public works bring—a desire to better a community and make a difference in people’s everyday lives.

Do you think public works is ready for more women and what opportunities do you think public works offers women?

Susan: In most cases, public works is ready for more women, especially larger organizations. Smaller organizations may be less ready as they may have less experience of hiring women.

Jen: Public works is ready for more women. The sooner the better; women are very much under represented. There is no reason why women can’t work in this field. Public works offers women the opportunity to mould their community and bring benefits that may not have been thought of without a woman.

Nikii: Yes, I absolutely feel that public works is ready for more women and I have been very lucky to have worked with some absolutely stellar women in various roles in public works. Public works offers a living wage, great benefits and a team atmosphere. There is a great sense of accomplishment and pride that comes from ensuring that the public enjoys the wonderful parks, facilities and infra-structure that is there to serve them.

What do you think are the barriers between women and public works?

Susan: It depends upon the organization but a lot of times the entry level jobs involve physical labour. The barrier is how we choose to bring people into public works. Women excel in technical and equipment operator positions.

Jen: It’s not typically or historically considered “women’s work.” Trades, for example, are not typically attractive to women. We can do much to change this by encouraging young women to consider these areas during their education.

Nikii: I think most of the barriers now are self-imposed—it simply isn’t thought about as a career path by women as much as it historically has been by men. I think we have to actively promote this career path in schools and at a young age, like primary school outreach.

Have you seen attitudes towards women in the public works workplace change?

Susan: Change has been sporadic and depends upon the size of the organization. The more women an organisation has the better it will be. The first woman may struggle and will have to prove herself.

Jen: Attitudes are changing and I have seen improvements in the last 15 years that I have been with the city. I remember one time I was out at a work function with the CAO who is male, many people automatically assumed I was there with him on a personal level and were surprised when they learned I was the Director of Public Works. It saddens me, and I wonder why people would be surprised.

Nikii: Definitely. The “old boys club” reputation was absolutely earned. However, as more women are employed in public works, this naturally dissipates Also, new employees, both male and female, have very different opinions about gender-based roles than some of their predecessors.

Do you have any tips for women on how they can excel in the public works arena?

Susan: Play to your strengths, don’t try to emulate your male counterparts. Don’t let men define what “tough” means.

Jen: It is important that women in public works connect with one another. If you have a problem, it is likely that there will be a woman that will have come through it already. We can help each other and it is important to take advantage of that.

Nikii: Be yourself, ask questions and listen to the answers. Be the one with the best skills, knowledge and ability to do the work, get hired on merit, and get promoted on merit. Make sure you can do all aspects of the job you apply for, and be willing to learn the things you don’t know. All of the women that I know who excel in public works have three things in common; they work really hard as a part of a team, they ask questions when they don’t know the answers and provide feedback to others when they think it would be of value, and they come to work with a great attitude—exactly the same recipe for success as for men.

By Charlotte Davis, City of Nanaimo
Charlotte Davis is the Manager of Sanitation, Recycling and Public Works Administration, for the City of Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Susan Clift provides consultancy services to municipalities in the area of public works and engineering. She worked at the City of Vancouver for 25 years where she had the accolade of being the first female engineer ever hired and more recently, she served as the director of Public Works and Engineering at the City of Nanaimo and City of Colwood.

Jen Fretz is the Director of Public Works and Utilities for the City of Kamloops. Jen is an engineer who started out in the private sec-tor and has been with Kamloops since 2004, where she progressed through a variety of pub-lic works managerial roles to her current role.

Nikii Hoglund is Director of Engineering and Public Works at the City of Colwood. Prior to working in the municipal world, Nikii worked in the private sector in the civil construction and rail industries. She has managed projects in New Zealand, Australia and Peru. Closer to home, Nikii’s first public works role was with the City of Richmond. She has also held roles in North Vancouver, Lions Bay and Sechelt.


The Global Gender Gap Report 2017. World Economic Forum (2017) www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_ GGGR_2017.pdf


The Climate is Changing, Are We?


Developing risk resilience from extreme weather events

By Adrienne Atherton and Sonia Sahota, P.Eng, Civic Legal LLP

The provincial and federal governments, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) have officially stated that climate change is having an impact on local governments and their infrastructure due to increased extreme weather events and a rise in sea levels. The legal liability risks of climate change impacts include potential negligence claims, nuisance claims and regulatory liability. This article provides an overview of the law in each of these areas, followed by a discussion on mitigation strategies.


Negligence is simply the law that attributes liability to those who knew, or ought to have known, that their actions, or inaction, could have caused the harm that has resulted to another party. Reasonable foresee ability is an important factor considered by the courts in a claim of negligence. Local governments must meet a reasonable standard of care, given not only what the local government knew, but also what it ought to have known.

A court will consider the knowledge and standards in the community. Therefore, the official statements of other levels of  government, the FCM and UBCM about the impacts of climate change are relevant in considering whether a local government could be found liable for losses arising there-from.

A local government can defend a claim in negligence if it has a bonafide policy in place. A policy is a clear, definable procedure or system based on social, political or economic factors. To constitute a policy, a decision needs to have been made (even if the decision is to not do anything). A failure to consider an issue cannot be a policy.

As such, it is clear that there is a risk of legal liability exposure if local governments fail to address reasonably foreseeable climate change impacts.


Nuisance is an unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of property. In the context of climate change, typical nuisance claims include flooding caused by infra-structure failures or limitations. Unlike negligence claims, it is no defence to a nuisance claim that the local government had a bonafide policy in place or was not negligent.

Defences to nuisance claims are limited. For example:

  • Local governments in B.C. may have a statutory authority defence, but only if it can be proved that there is no way for them to perform the statutory duty without causing nuisance, which is a very high standard to meet.
  • Local governments in B.C. are protected from nuisance claims (section 744 of Local Government Act), but only where the damages claimed are caused by the breakdown or malfunction of a sewer, water or drainage facility or system, or a dike or road. Consequently, this defence does not provide any immunity for floods due to overcapacity of the infra-structure, as there is no “breakdown” or “malfunction”. (see reference 1)

To protect from such nuisance claims, it is necessary to take steps to try to avoid the incident, such as ensuring that the design capacity of infrastructure addresses the impacts of climate change in the future.

Regulatory risks

Climate change can result in various types of regulatory risks under federal or provincial legislation. For example, flooding may cause a deleterious substance to enter fish bearing water or a drinking water source. Recent provincial legislation requires local governments to adopt targets, policies and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the community, which creates more regulatory requirements and resulting risks for local governments.

To defend a regulatory charge, a local government must show that it acted with due diligence, or that reasonable steps were taken, considering what the local government knew or ought to have known. As such, local governments need to take climate change impacts into account when considering what due diligence steps ought to be taken.

Mitigation strategies

The first step in addressing climate change is to conduct an assessment of the risks and impact of climate change. Such an assessment will equip local governments with the knowledge needed to develop appropriate policies and prioritize investments to include adaptation strategies in capital, infrastructure, land use and emergency planning. The prioritization of its resources strengthens a local government’s liability defences, including its policy and due diligence defences.

When surveyed by FCM (see reference 2), 19 per cent of responding municipalities reported using formal policies or practices to factor climate change adaptation strategies into decision-making in relation to the following assets: stormwater (16 per cent), roads and bridges (15 per cent), wastewater (16 per cent), buildings (14 per cent), potable water (14 per cent), sport and recreation facilities (13 per cent) and public transit (six per cent).

Can local governments afford this?

The FCM reports that:

  • Every dollar invested today in climate change adaptation saves $9 to $38 in future damages; and
  • The average annual cost of extreme weather events is estimated at $5 billion by 2020, and is expected to increase to$43 billion per year by 2050. Therefore, an investment in climate change mitigation should pay off in the future. There are programs to assist local governments through FCM or provincial and federal governments. So, perhaps the better question is, can local government afford not to do this?

This article is intended for the gen-eral information of organizations in British Columbia. If your organization has specific issues or concerns relating to the matters dis-cussed in this article, please consult a legal advisor.

Adrienne Atherton is a litigator and Sonia Sahota is a solicitor and both are partners at Civic Legal LLP, a British Columbia law firm with expertise in municipal law, land develop-ment, construction, procurement and compli-cated contract matters. Visit www.civiclegal.ca for contact and additional information.


1. For more on immunity related to cer-tain nuisance actions, see The Nuisance of Sewer Backups in the Fall 2015 issue of The ROADRUNNER.

2. Informing the Future: The Canadian Infrastructure Report Card, 2016.

2018 President’s Message


It has been an eventful start to 2018 as PWABC hosted an Operations Seminar in New Westminster focused on road maintenance, technology, safety and leadership. We would like to recognize our many partners who shared their expertise via presentations, exhibitor booths and sponsorship. It was a successful day with participation from over 40 municipalities, associations and companies. Special thanks to Dylan Myers, from the City of New Westminster, and Lisa Grant, from the City of Vancouver, for leading the successful planning and execution of this event and to the City of New Westminster for hosting and provide the keynote address.

PWABC also led two very well-attended Women in Public Works events in Victoria and Vancouver. Thank you to all the municipalities from Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland who supported this annual event to bring women in public works together to build resilience, focus on success and thrive. We again want to acknowledge our generous sponsors, the Municipal Suppliers Association and the Public Works Inspector’s Society. We will continue to provide quality education and events, including courses on labour relations, media training, resilient leadership, construction inspection, tours and net-working events. For information on course offerings, events and educational programs, please go to our website, www.pwabc.ca/events/education-programs.

We are also pleased to announce three new Directors to our board: Chris Anderson from the City of West Kelowna, David Lundberg formerly from the City of Vancouver, and Brian Carter from the City of Burnaby. We are looking forward to the new perspectives, energy and expertise that these talent-ed public works professionals will bring to our association. Please feel free to reach out to myself or any of my fellow Directors with your suggestions and comments. Our con-tact information is available on our website at www.pwabc.ca/about-us/board.

We are also pleased to partner with the BC Municipal Safety Association to deliver a joint-conference in 2018. The benefits include more presentations in key topic areas, including safety, public works, utilities and leadership; a larger trades how; and more opportunities to network with municipal leaders and industry professionals from across BC. There is great excitement as we combine the key strengths and areas of expertise of each of our associations to elevate the quality and value of your conference experience. The conference will be held in Sun Peaks, BC from September 16 to 18. We have opened our call for presentations on our website at www.pwabc.ca/events/technical-conference-trade-show. Please look out for information on sponsorship and exhibition space rentals in April and the full conference schedule in May.

I want to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors and suppliers for their ongoing support and to our valued members for making our organization a success. I encourage members to participate in events and activities so that we are able to showcase our profession. As public works professionals, we aim to assist our fellow citizens in under-standing the important role we have in their communities on a daily basis and during emergency related events.

I am looking forward to an exciting year ahead with this great organization and profession. Together we can make the Public Works Association of BC a great resource for all our members.

Greg Wightman
Public Works Association of British Columbia

Dedicated Services Award – Jeff Welch, City of Surrey