More work goes on behind the scenes than one might realize to keep facilities owned by the City of Quesnel safe, operational and clean.
Gary Stuart and Kyle Russell are the first points of contact if something goes wrong.
The facilities manager and maintenance foreman are rarely in their shared office at the West Fraser Centre as they move between buildings such as City Hall, Quesnel & District Museum and Archives, Spirit Square and Quesnel Airport.
“You never know what you’re going to walk into,” Stuart said. “We do something different every day.”
Over the years, both have dealt with water breaks and ammonia leaks.
Stuart recalled a water break that had started on the fifth floor of City Hall and went into the basement.
“That was a nasty one,” he said.
Russell said Technical Safety BC has beefed up measures since a deadly ammonia leak in Fernie more than four years ago. Stuart estimates more than $500,000 in upgrades has been spent at the city’s two arenas to comply with new regulations.
“You can’t let these buildings get old and rundown, so we try our best to make sure all the equipment is up to snuff and make sure everything is running right so the City can operate,” Stuart said.
Both men praised their team of eight maintenance workers and ten janitorial staff.
Stuart has worked for the city since 1983, stepping into management in 1992.
He was born and raised in Vancouver and arrived in Quesnel more than 40 years ago to become a firefighter. However, after getting a job at the local arena in 1978, his plans changed.
“I was only planning to stay in Quesnel for two years, and I was going to be back in Vancouver by 1980, 1981 the latest, and now I’ve got grandkids here,” Stuart said.
“It just grew on me.”
Russell started with the City in 2005 and has held the title of maintenance foreman for the past seven years.
Previously, he was a journeyman carpenter and had worked in Chemainus and North Cowichan before moving to his wife’s hometown where he started at the yard as a carpenter and then a refrigeration operator.
In his free time Rusell enjoys the outdoors and camping.
Stuart can be found motorcycling in the non-winter months.
“I got one more year left, and then I’m retiring,” he added, noting Russell and him both enjoy their jobs.