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Here for our Community — Anne Kantharajah

April 13, 2022
Here for our community: Matt Reid Every day hundreds of people work behind the scenes to keep Prince Edward County running. We are profiling a few of the people that are ‘here for our community.’   We continue the series by talking with Matt Reid, Foreman of Recreation and Community Facilities   Can you start by giving an overview of your job?   There really isn’t a set day. It could be anything. On any given day there could be something in the parks that needs taking care of, it could be that something breaks and we need to fix it. We keep busy and it stays interesting. On a typical day in the winter, we’re working with ice users and making sure the arenas run. I lend a hand at the Picton arena when they need it but I’m mostly based out of Wellington.   In the spring we take the ice out of the arena. It’s pretty straightforward: we shave the ice down with the ice resurfacer and then we’ve got to put hot water on to remove the vinyl logos. Then we continue shaving it down. When we get down to the paint, we turn the ice plant off to break the seal between the ice and the floor. Then we bring in a tractor with a bucket and start taking the ice out in chunks. It takes anywhere between 4-5 days with a crew of 2-3 staff.   In the summer, there’s more ground to cover. We’re focused on the parks and washrooms and all of that fun stuff. There are 23 parks that we look after, so we’re all over the County, and our team grows with summer students and summer staff. The team that is responsible for the public washrooms are fantastic. I’ve done that shift a couple of times and it’s fantastic that they are able to keep up with it.   How long have you worked with the County? I started in 2008 as an arena attendant. It was a good job opportunity at the time and it stuck with me. I have been in the Foreman role for just over a year now. What do you like most about the job and working for the County? The thing I like most about my job is the staff I work with. It’s a good group and it makes it easy to come to work. There are 12 people on the arena team; that’s between both facilities in Wellington and Picton. I don’t know the right word to describe the team. It’s just that everyone gets along so well. Everybody’s easy going, and it makes it a lot easier to come to work everyday knowing that we get to do our job and have a good time doing it together. I was a little uncomfortable about this interview, because it’s a team effort here. Nobody could make this work without everyone else. I didn’t want this to focus on me, because it really is a team. How has COVID-19 impacted your work? It has made things a little more challenging, but everyone has done a good job with getting the protocols sorted out. We have appreciated everyone’s patience and understanding as we worked through the challenges of the pandemic. The screening, showing proof of vaccination and ID, the guidelines we have to follow and the delays on repairs due to shortages, contractor availability and shipping delays… it’s made things a little more challenging. The public has been really good, more than willing to follow the rules and be patient and understanding. Having the facility empty during lockdowns has been a little bit of a blessing because when we’re closed we get the time to do the really tedious and long jobs that we don’t get a chance to do when we have a full day of ice users and the public coming in and out. There’s been a lot of painting, buffing floors and things like that. We haven’t been sitting waiting for the doors to open. We’ve been doing a lot of things we can’t do with the public coming through the door. What do you enjoy most about the County? I grew up in the County. I like that this is where my family’s from, where my wife’s family is from. Everyone we know is here. It really feels like a community when you grew up here and know everyone. It is easier at work because I see a lot of ice users who either know me or know my family.      

Here for our Community….

Every day hundreds of people work behind the scenes to keep Prince Edward County running. We are profiling a few of the people that are ‘here for our community.’ We continue the series by talking with Anne Kantharajah, Deputy Clerk.

Can you start by giving an overview of your job?

 

There is really no typical day in the Clerk’s office. Our mission is to build public trust and confidence in The County. We deliver a variety of services like administering the municipal election, supporting Council and committee meetings, making information accessible to the public while protecting privacy, providing leadership in matters of protocol, providing administrative support to members of Council and processing different licences and permits.

Because much of the work is related to Council and Committee meetings, my work is cyclical in that I am either working on building an agenda, supporting the conduct of the meeting, or following up on the direction emanating from those meetings. In addition, I provide customer services by managing lottery licences, liquor licences, burial permits and marriage licences.

In the summer months, the Clerk and I perform civil ceremonies for couples looking to get married at Shire Hall.

Anne smiles for the camera while standing outside the Edward Building offices.
"The County is a great place to work. It is quite busy but almost every day is a good day. As the community grows, the County is going through a lot of change and modernization, and I am excited to be a part of that."

In terms of the Clerk’s overall role in the municipality, we help to build public trust and confidence, especially in supporting Council and Committee during their meetings. I would argue that meetings are one of the most significant ways a resident of the community can stay up-to-date on the decisions that affect them. It is also an opportunity to gather input from the community. The Clerk’s role during a meeting is very important in that it helps Council make an informed decision.

I also work closely with other departments. For example, when developing by-laws, the service department is responsible for developing, drafting and bring forward a by-law and I or the Clerk provide advice on whether the by-law conforms to provincial and federal legislation.

 

What do you like most about the job and working for the County?

 

The County is a great place to work. It is quite busy but almost every day is a good day. As the community grows, the County is going through a lot of change and modernization, and I am excited to be a part of that.

My job involves a good mixture of independent work, customer service and supporting the decision-making process through Council and Committees. For example, a large part of my job duties right now is to review and manage corporate policies as part of the By-Law and Policy Review. This is one of the projects that attracted me to taking on the Deputy Clerk role. With the help of other staff, we are slowly chipping away at this project. Staff have developed a framework for continuous improvement of policies and by-laws. This is an example of the remarkable change the County is going through and I am happy to be a part of it.

"The elections put the spotlight on the municipality. Although we might be scrutinized, it is an opportunity for the municipality to shine and for staff to showcase what we are good at."

How has COVID-19 impacted your work?

 

At first, I appreciated the opportunity to work-from-home. The COVID-19 restrictions presented a chance to save money, spend more time with my family, and focus on what is important to me. Ontario returned to lockdown on April 1, 2021, which was also my first day at the County. It was difficult to start a new job while forced to work from home.  I feel like I missed out on getting to know my colleagues and work environment. However, it wasn’t long before I was back in the office and getting to know the people that I work with. Right now, I try to be at the office more frequently as I enjoy being at the office. Getting to know the people you work with is so important.

 

Are you looking forward to the upcoming municipal election?

 

I am very excited about the election. I love the buzz that it creates in the community. Maintaining the integrity of the municipal election is the Office of the Clerk’s priority. The elections put the spotlight on the municipality. Although we might be scrutinized, it is an opportunity for the municipality to shine and for staff to showcase what we are good at.

This is my third election in my career, but my first with The County. As elections are generally conducted every four years, you tend to forget how much work goes into planning and conducting an election. We are well underway in planning for the election.

I have mixed feelings about the upcoming election. In one sense, I’m looking forward to the new term of Council and in the other, I know there will be change. I am looking forward to assisting the new members get familiar and accustomed to sitting as Council.

Read all of the Here for our Community series

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