Though it’s been decades since he’s lived on one, Patrick Graham is no stranger to islands.
Bowen Island Municipality’s new director of engineering is originally from St. John’s, NL. However, for the past couple of decades, as a fan of backcountry skiing, mountain biking and the like, Graham’s been living the West Coast life.
After grad school, Graham spent six years working with CH2M Hill, particularly in water management, before spending the last 14 years with Metro Vancouver Regional Parks. Most recently with parks Graham was the senior engineer responsible for the capital program (think asset maintenance and infrastructure development).
Graham started at BIM last week.
“There’s a lot of interesting, ambitious projects going on on the island,” he said. “A lot of challenges with ageing infrastructure to be addressed, so I’m just starting to get my head around all of that.”
Graham has some experience with small municipalities – his last project before joining Metro Vancouver was as a resident engineer at a water treatment plant construction in Creston. He also noted that the regional parks system has similar characteristics to Bowen in that there’s a lot of “dispersed infrastructure”: roads, water, sanitary, trails and bridges.
“So I knew coming in that there’s financial challenges that small municipalities face,” he said. “Especially, as I’m seeing here, for a small place there’s a lot of infrastructure per capita and it’s pretty old.”
He noted the number of capital and asset renewal projects that are in the works (the capital projects include water treatment plant, fire hall, community centre, cross-island path).
“There seemed to be, and that’s proven to be the case, a lot going on here.”
Part of the appeal of Bowen (apart from lifestyle, though he’s still a commuter) was also what had drawn Graham to parks.
“[The] interests I have relating to how we can develop places without compromising those places,” he said (Graham’s SFU masters in resource and environmental management focused on low-impact development.)
As for how Bowen’s treating him a week in, he’s already made use of his long-time relationship with Metro in discussions with the regional district and is being treated to an island welcome.
“Everyone’s been very nice so far,” he said. “It seems like they care a lot too.”
Graham is taking over the director of engineering position from the interim director, Glen Shkurhan of Urban Systems.
The director of engineering role is just the first of three senior BIM positions to see turnover in 2020. BIM still needs to hire a new chief administrative officer and a new fire chief.