WCW Member Profile – Stewart Schafer

Working-in-Water-logoWCW Member Profile – Stewart Schafer

Stewart SchaferName: Stewart Schafer
Position: Director of Public Works & Engineering
Organization: City of North Battleford, SK

Core Function

Directing the development and maintenance of the City’s infrastructure.

Born and raised

Born in North Battleford, I moved to Calgary where I was raised and educated. In 1988, I moved back to North Battleford to start my engineering career. Except for a short period with the City of Saskatoon, I‘ve worked the majority of my career around the Battlefords.

Education/Training

B.Sc. (Civil Engineering), University of Calgary (1985). Since then, I’ve continued to take courses, take part in workshops and attend conferences to better my skills/knowledge.

History in the industry and as a WCW member

In 1992, I joined the Battlefords Tribal Council as a technical advisor in the areas of water treatment plants, subdivision infrastructure, sewage disposal and other municipal services. In 2007 I became a project manager for the City of Saskatoon’s Utility Department. In 2008, I became Director of Public Works and Engineering for the City of North Battleford. As part of my duties, I’m responsible for infrastructure and overseeing the training of employees. I joined WCW in 2007 at Mark Keller’s insistence. Membership has allowed me to find training programs for my staff, enabling them to reach their highest potential. WCW has also allowed me to learn about new technologies and proposed regulations that could influence future operations.

Typical day

There really isn’t a typical day as a municipal engineer. I can be working on streets and roads in the morning, then helping with wastewater treatment master plans in the afternoon. The next day I could be working on an airport runway, and two hours later be solving a water treatment problem, all the while dealing with the public’s concerns related to City operations.

Job satisfaction

My position allows me to explore new technologies that will assist in providing better and safer services to our citizens. It has also allowed me to meet people in different fields who have developed technologies and influenced industry standards across North America.

Main challenges

We have an aging infrastructure that needs replacing, an aging workforce that is retiring, and changing governmental regulations.

Career highlights

Developing a operator training programs for First Nation operators.

Assisting in the design, construction, renovations and maintenance of First Nations’ water treatment plants, subdivisions and potable water trickle systems.

Involvement in the design of the new WWTP UV disinfection facility and the Acadia pumping station for the City of Saskatoon.

Managing the North Battleford’s water and wastewater facilities.

Mentors

My first mentor was my father, Ed Schafer, a mechanical engineer who steered me into the field. Others have been Rodger McDonald, whose systems knowledge amazes me; Dan Hogan, who showed me how to run a project; Jouko Kurkiniemi and Earl Kreutzer, who taught me to look ‘outside of the box;’ Bert Munroe, who was always willing to listen; Gene McWillie, who was so willing to share his knowledge and experience; Susan Debrowney and Dawn Dierker, who were always ready to lend a hand on any of my projects; Krystyna Kotowski, who was always eager to assist on a project; Tim Sedgewick, a man whose enthusiasm was truly infectious; Lyle McLeod and Bill Wright, who taught me to be patient and methodical; Trish Gibney, who showed that a project could be done safely without increasing the cost; Jules Tardif and George Girmen, two men not afraid to try new ideas; Rob Hinger, who solves complex problems with simple solutions; and finally, Mark Keller, whose ability to see the best in people and help them reach their potential is awe-inspiring.

Advice for a successful career

Never decline an invitation to a conference, workshop or seminar that will aid in your professional development. Keep your eyes and ears open for new things, but don’t dismiss older technologies. Volunteer (an excellent way to build relationships). Be open to new ideas, even when they seem foolish. Never be afraid to ask for or offer assistance. Give people a chance. Finally, pick up that meal bill or bar tab.

Time away from work

I’m a private person who enjoys being with family or a small group of friends. I like going for walks in the outdoors, especially at the lake or in the mountains; but I also enjoy going to live theater or just meeting friends at a lounge to discuss what’s been happening in their lives.

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