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Being a Small Town Engineer

When deciding just where to move to in Canada for our return, we had the choice of almost anywhere, from booming oil towns like Fort McMurray, to big cities like Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. As a successful Engineer with a substantial resume of design and project management experiences it wasn’t difficult to get an interview anywhere, in fact, had we stayed in Australia, our options would have been limitless.

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But we chose Castlegar, BC as our home.

Castlegar is a city in the southern interior of British Columbia, pretty close to the US border, in a region known as the Kootenays. At around 7,500 people, the city is buy no means large, however, it is surrounded by a few other communities of similar or greater size, all within an hours drive, even on a bad day.

I’m a consultant, not a city employee, so I get to work as a design engineer, project manager for design and construction jobs, and often am regarded as somewhat of a local expert in all things related to development and construction.

Being a small town engineer is an interesting experience, there are lots of things in my job here that I wouldn’t experience in a city job.

  • It’s unlikely that I’d have to dodge bears on a construction site in the city,
  • I probably wouldn’t live next door to the guy who prepares the road construction sites for paving,
  • I wouldn’t be able to walk to work,
  • I wouldn’t get to drop in on the city engineer for a chat,
  • I probably wouldn’t be quoted in the local newspapers,
  • I wouldn’t be able to work from home,
  • I probably wouldn’t be able to work only four days a week,
  • I wouldn’t spend the weekend with my bosses family out at their cabin,
  • I wouldn’t be dropping off a proposal to a client “out at the lake”.

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I like it here, I like being a part of the community and doing things that create prosperity in this town.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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