National Public Works Week: Meet Mike Labelle

Q: What is your role with Quinte West and how long have you been with the City?

A: I’m an Equipment Operator in the roads department. We do a little bit of everything, some days it involves operating various vehicles and some days it’s manual labour, like shovelling or raking gravel. In the winter I’m usually snow plowing, and in the summer my job ranges from ditching, patching, resurfacing roads, laying asphalt or cement, dump truck driving and things like that. I worked as a casual for the City for about four years before I got on full time. I’ve now been full-time for 16 years.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: I like that every day at work is different. It keeps things interesting. I refer to it like a bag of Bits and Bites, every handful is different, just like every day is different here at work! You never know what you’re going to get. I love that we’re outside, we get to see the whole City. There are so many scenic roads and areas in Quinte West that even some residents don’t know about, so it is awesome being able to see it all and know where everything is.

Q: What’s the most challenging/rewarding part of your job?

A: The most challenging part is doing our job in the eye of the public. Most bystanders/homeowners are great, but everybody has a different perspective as to how things ‘should’ be done. I wish people knew that we are trying our best to get things done to better the City, and we aren’t trying to be an inconvenience to anyone. It can also be challenging when the weather is not on our side. The winter conditions can be scary at times, especially when we’re plowing at night in a snowstorm. We have safety measures in place, and it is nice to know someone from the crew is always around if any of us need a hand. The most rewarding part for me is getting to see my work completed every day. I live in Quinte West, so I’m constantly driving by past completed projects and thinking “hey, I did that!”

Q: How does a person get into a career like yours?

A: If someone wanted to get into this career, the main thing they would need is a DZ license and some driving experience. DZ licenses allow you to drive dump trucks, straight trucks, garbage/recycling trucks, fire/rescue trucks, and cement trucks. Being in a casual position with the City really helped me gain experience and training, which helped my driving confidence. It allowed me to learn from the other employees and get a real feel for the work we do. It also helps to have a general knowledge or interest in the City, and how things work in different departments.

Q: What is something you wish people knew about your job?

A: I wish people knew the process of how our projects are done, and how each crew works. If people could understand what we’re doing, they wouldn’t have as many assumptions about it. I know sometimes when people see a couple of guys ‘standing around,’ they think “oh, they aren’t doing anything, they’re just standing there.” I wish people knew that if a guy is standing there, he might be a dump truck driver waiting for his truck to fill up so he is seeing how things are going with his team. Or he might have to wait five minutes for the truck to unload. Or he might be waiting for the truck to dump the gravel so he can start raking it. Things like that. We never have people on the crew who have no purpose, so if you see someone standing, know that that person has a job, they just might have to wait a couple of minutes in order to do it. There’s an order of the way things are done.

Q: What’s your favourite thing to do/eat/see in Quinte West?

A: I love the rural areas in Quinte West, the views can be pretty amazing. There is a lot of wildlife that roams around, it’s cool to see. Beyond that, I love Tomassos, Tigers Chicken & Ribs and Golden Valley! We have some really amazing food options here.

Last Updated: 1 year ago

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