The Director of Environmental Services for the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) is retiring.
Rory McKenzie has worked for the RDBN for almost 20 years.
He said a lot has changed in his department since he started.
“We had a mandated solid waste management plan. At the time, the plan was to close the 21 landfills that were in our regional district. Close and cap them and reduce the landfills down to the two big sub-regional landfills we have now plus the tiny one we have in Manson Creek,” he said. “I inspected all of the little ones and cleaned them up and closed them and put them into compliance. We did major earth work on five of the big landfills, closed and capped them. Those were huge major construction projects we had to do for the five big ones, which we did in house. That was a huge savings when we went in house. Closing the 21 landfills was huge.”
McKenzie also helped to build seven new transfer stations and also in the last two years built four Recycle BC recycling depots. He said his department worked hard to keep costs under control while building the stations.
“Back in 2006 we took tenders for the building of the Granisle and Fraser Lake transfer stations and the tenders came in from outside the regional district… Vancouver, Kamloops, Edmonton and hugely overpriced for what we had budgeted,” he said. “At that point, my boss and I decided we should do these projects ourselves instead of putting them out for tender and bringing in people from outside of our region to take the money and go. We decided to do it ourselves, with the board of directors’ blessing. Wherever the project was we tried to hire local contractors with their own personal equipment and I would assume the job as like a site supervisor and we would do the project with local people instead. It was a huge savings for the regional district and a huge help to the local contractors in the regional district and our taxpayer dollars stayed in the regional district and the cheques were given to local people, instead of to people out of our region.”
He added doing it that way helped to boost the reputation of the regional district.
“It made us more known to people. It was huge public relations for us as well as a significant savings to the tax payers plus we got better work done. Local contractors take pride in their job because that job is sitting there forever that they did, so they take more ownership. I felt we got a way better bang for our buck.”
McKenzie is going on holidays and then will come in to touch base and help train his replacement. He officially hangs up his hat at the end of May.
He said he will miss doing the actual construction projects the most after he retires.
“Going out there with an engineered plan in my hand and hiring local contractors and making a team, and then going ahead with the project, and completing it under budget. Probably all of that kind of stuff, going out there with equipment and people and doing the work,” he said.
RDBN Director of Area A Mark Fisher said McKenzie will be missed.
“He has been a great manager of the facilities,” Fisher said. “He’s really a hands-on, on the ground type person. Over the years he has saved the regional district a lot of money and done things really practically.”
The RDBN has hired someone to replace McKenzie already.
Alex Eriksen will be starting this week.
He was a local Burns Lake area resident. He then went to the University of Northern B.C. and got his Bachelor of Science. After that he moved to Denmark and obtained a Masters of Science in Environmental Engineering from The Technical University of Denmark. He moved back to Canada and was visiting family in Burns Lake when he saw the ad for the position and applied for it.
“It is a like a dream come true,” said McKenzie. “He is passionate about recycling and things like that and that is what we’ve been trending towards with our solid waste management plan so I think he will be a really good fit.”