By Steve Hubrecht
The District of Invermere has a new director of public works and operations. Professional Engineer Angela MacLean arrived in the Columbia Valley in mid-April to fill the role.
It has been many years since Invermere has had a director of public works and operations. The position used to exist, but at a certain point the district decided to go without somebody in that role, disbursing the responsibilities entailed in the job among other positions.
Over recent months Invermere Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Young has been leading efforts to re-establish the position to hire somebody for it.
Those efforts came to fruition with MacLean, who worked in municipal engineering and operations roles at two different mid-sized cities in Ontario before deciding to relocate to the Columbia Valley along with her family.
MacLean grew up in Sydney, Nova Scotia. She became interested in engineering as a kid, after one of the east coast’s infamous storms flooded her part of Sydney and left her subdivision cut off from the outside world.
“The army came in, and built a temporary bridge for the few hundred people that were stranded,” MacLean recalled. “I found the whole thing fascinating. It really piqued my interest. The infrastructure had been neglected, and there were five straight days of really heavy rain that caused what gets termed ‘flashy’ flooding, and then the next thing you knew, you couldn’t get into or out of the subdivision.”
MacLean’s family already included several engineers, so it seemed natural to follow in their footsteps. She earned first an undergraduate degree, and then a Master’s degree in civil engineering, both from the University of Waterloo.
She worked as a consultant for several years, then took a job with the City of Waterloo, before becoming an engineering project manager at the City of Barrie.
In her work, she found herself drawn to complex operational projects, ranging from figuring out which plants would be best for a sediment reuse program to replacing culverts in a historical waste site with contaminated ground water and underlying gas main.
“Exactly the kind of work that would appeal to really nerdy engineers,” she told the Pioneer.
MacLean has been an avid outdoorswoman her whole life and had already been visiting the Columbia Valley and the Kootenay region for years before she decided to move here.
“The outdoors has always held great appeal for me,” she said, adding that skiing, hiking and paddling are among her favourite pursuits.