The City of Salmon Arm’s former city engineer Jenn Wilson takes on service delivery management while new city engineer Gabriel Bau Baiges eager to serve community. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

The City of Salmon Arm’s former city engineer Jenn Wilson takes on service delivery management while new city engineer Gabriel Bau Baiges eager to serve community. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

Swapping roles: Salmon Arm’s city engineer takes on assets, new engineer hired

Importance of knowing when and where to spend money prioritized, new engineer eager to serve

A new pool sooner than later, or pothole repair? Bicycle paths or water lines? What are the financial ramifications of choosing one or the other?

These are the types of questions that Jenn Wilson’s data collection can help answer.

For a good portion of the time Wilson has been city engineer for the City of Salmon Arm, she’s also been leading the city’s Asset Management Program off the side of her desk.

Now Wilson has moved from being city engineer to taking on asset management full time. Her new job, called Service Delivery Management Coordinator, will also include taking charge of the climate action plan and making sure the city is moving ahead with it. She will sit on the city’s Environmental Action Committee as staff representative.

New city engineer is Gabriel Bau Baiges, who moved to Salmon Arm from Whitehorse, Yukon.

Asked to describe asset management – or service delivery management as the city is calling it, Wilson said it’s about balancing risk, cost and service levels.

“So, it’s saying, we only have so much money, these are all the services we deliver… and if we cannot fund those service levels as is, how do we mitigate the risk for not funding them properly. So it is a lot of boring systems and spread sheets. I love them,” she laughs – “but it’s gathering all the information on our assets, where they are, what condition they’re in, what’s the risk to the community if they fail us.”

She said it’s identifying the critical assets, and understanding how much money should be put towards maintenance, replacement, upgrades, according to the city’s master plans.

“So it’s a lot of system building. But then the cool part happens. Once it’s all done, you start the communication with the public…

“If we want the new pool quicker, are we willing to put up with more potholes on our roads? Do we want to limit that to local roads and make sure our arterial roads are always freshly paved? So having those conversations about where the dollars can go and where people really want to see it.”

Read more: Non-profit urges movement on Salmon Arm’s climate action plan

Gabriel Bau Baiges, who has about 20 years’ experience as an engineer, came to Canada eight years ago from Barcelona, Spain. He worked in the Comox Valley Regional District as well as Whitehorse. He, too, has experience in asset management.

“I came to Salmon Arm for this job; it was a very interesting job. I was working for the Yukon government, the territorial government, and I wanted to come back to the local government… I feel we can achieve more things working for the local government.”

He described himself as very approachable.

Bau Baiges was able to find accommodation; he and his partner are currently renting.

He has only been in the city about two weeks and is looking forward to hiking and another passion of his: “I’m kind of a weird person,” he smiled. “I’m a Zumba instructor.”

He said his goal is to enjoy life, both at work and otherwise.

“And this means to feel proud of what I do. The rewarding part is to see you’re doing a benefit for the community…”

Mayor Alan Harrison welcomed him to Salmon Arm.

“I can tell you bring a wealth of experience and history, so that can only be good for us. So we’re really pleased you’re here with us.

Read more: Picking favourites: Residents asked to weigh in on which projects Salmon Arm should prioritize
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