Say the word ‘government’ and people’s thoughts automatically go to the legislature in Victoria, or the Houses of Parliament in Ottawa. But the closest level of government, and the one that has most to do with people’s day-to-day living in these parts, is the Town of Ladysmith.
And you could say it’s not just the Mayor and Council or the top administrators at City Hall who represent the town. The people citizens see every day, replacing water mains, mowing lawns, hanging banners or going about the hundreds of other tasks needed to keep a municipality of 8,000 running smoothly, are the public works employees, headquartered at the top of the hill at Roberts Street and Sixth Avenue.
So Public Works Day is an opportunity not only to say thanks to the public works staff, it’s also a chance to learn a bit more about them and what they do. So from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, residents of Ladysmith and beyond were welcomed into the public works yard to meet the people who, for the other 364 days of the year, are often taken for granted.
“Public works is about everything the community does together to keep the community strong,” said Mike Ganderton, public works supervisor with the Town of Ladysmith, who was greeting school kids at the front gate in the company of Paws, the official mascot of the American Public Works Association (actually, it was Kevin Goldfuss, TOL’s operations manager, doing civic duty in the inflatable Paws suit).
Ganderton was quick to point out that public works is more than just the civic employees who take care of the infrastructure and provide the services that make Ladysmith a great place to live, he said PW is a big umbrella that includes volunteer fire fighters; contractors who pick up garbage and recyclables; and community organizations like Broom Busters and Citizens On Patrol (COP), who are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the community working with the RCMP.
“Public works affects everybody. First thing you get up in the morning, public works affects your life.” Ganderton said. “You turn on your water for a coffee, you flush a toilet… which is all water and sewer, right?”
Carpenter Neil Bouma, who has worked for the Town of Ladysmith for 16 years, says it’s a great place to work. “It’s a great job, he said. “Good people, and everybody’s friendly, so it’s good.”
The people of Ladysmith make it extra special, he added. “Their friendly,” he said. “Great people.”