The Nation Municipality will add a new Municipal Civil Engineer position to the municipal payroll in the coming weeks.

On December 12, 2022, council approved hiring a qualified individual to fulfill the role, possibly by February 1. The 40 hours per week position will pay between $48.60 per hour and $55.00 per hour. An individual at the lowest end of that range could potentially have gross earnings of $101,088 per year and $114,400 per year at the high end of the range.

According to a report prepared by Director of Planning Guylain Laflèche and Director of Water and Wastewater Doug Renaud, the municipality has been outsourcing engineering services for many years when new municipal infrastructure is being planned and designed. The report says the addition of an in-house engineer is necessary due to high demand for new infrastructure in The Nation resulting from development.

The report further explains how the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks recently transferred responsibility for approving all proposed storm and sanitary sewer infrastructure projects to municipalities. When approvals were under the ministry’s responsibility, they took six to nine months to complete, but the municipality is anticipating they will take less time under their responsibility. However, the approvals must be performed by a qualified civil engineer.

Laflèche told council more people will be interested in locating or developing in The Nation if the municipal planning process is made easier.

The municipality is hoping to cover the salary costs for the new position with savings achieved from deciding to defer hiring an asset management employee, municipal planner, and Economic Development Manager. The municipality is also planning to use $30,000 to $40,000 it would otherwise spend on outsourced sewer engineering services, and $20,000 usually spent on reviewing subdivision plans to fund the engineer’s position.

Councillors question

Ward 1 Councillor Tim Stewart questioned why the municipality is looking to replace about $50,000 per year of external contracts by hiring someone at a cost of more than $100,000.

“That doesn’t seem to jive,” remarked Stewart.

“How are we making up that loss?”

Laflèche said the report did not emphasize the time he and Renaud have been spending on sewer and subdivision projects, which he said have made it difficult for them to devote attention to other matters in their departments. Lafleche said having the municipal engineer on staff will lighten their workload.

“To have that expertise on staff and to have the ability to ask our own employees to do stuff, I think it’s worth the leap,” Mayor Francis Brière said.

He added it will help the approval process go faster now that the municipality has assumed the approval process from the province.

“If we have it in house, we can do it much, much quicker,” commented Brière.

Ward 5 Councillor Daniel Boisvenue asked what had changed to warrant not hiring an Economic Development Manager.

Laflèche said the municipality is prioritizing residential development and growing the local population first, so housing needs are met for new businesses later.

The recommendation to proceed with hiring a Municipal Engineer for The Nation was moved by Ward 3 Councillor Danik Forgues and seconded by Ward 2 Councillor Alain Mainville before being approved by council.