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 Darius McCaw and Jason Young who share the title of Damage Prevention Technician. This hard-working duo are such a team, they even finish each other’s sentences! We wanted to profile them together as we kick off Dig Safe Month.
How long have you worked with The County?
Jason Young (JY): I started in 2006. I did six years on contract ploughing through the winter. Then I spent three years in Operations. Then the Damage Prevention Technician job came up and I’ve been in this role for three and a half years.
Darius McCaw (DM): I’ve been nine months in this position, but I’ve been locating for 15 years. It’s what I do. Before this I worked with Promark-Telecon for 10 years doing damage prevention for all of the utility companies. I was the local guy who did the locates for all of the contractors. If it needed to be found, I found it!
Can you give an overview of your job?
DM: Our main job description is to protect The County’s underground utilities. On a typical day, I wake up, get to work and do some utility locates. I check emails, answer some phone calls and go do site visits. It’s a lot of communication and education with the community.
JY: The province legislates through Ontario One Call that all utilities have to be mapped and all people digging, even just putting a stake in the ground, have to call Ontario One Call and request a locate of the underground utilities.
DM: Any time they break ground. For a garden, a flag pole, anything. The utilities aren’t as deep as people might think they are.
JY: Gas is supposed to be 18 inches below ground, but I’ve seen a shovel slice through a gas line. I saw a video clip from another municipality where a realtor was putting in a real estate sign and they hit gas. So, it’s easy to do.
DM: But doing utility locates is not the whole job. Locates are really seasonal. We do permits now too: entrance permits, municipal consents, right of way, and now we do the new sidewalk patio permits. Our scope of work is so broad. I’ve learned so much since I started in this job.
What do you like most about the job and working for The County?
DM: I like working in the community I live in. I was in the private sector for a long time, and working for the municipality is a lot different. You have to be accountable for every action you take and accountable to your community.
JY: With this job, there is something different every day. I too am proud to serve the community I live in and where I know so many people.
How has COVID-19 impacted your work?
JY: We do most of the paperwork and communications from home. We are limited in visiting the other shops. Everything we do is digital now. We’ve moved so much online: we prefer digital payments, and reduced of a lot of the paperwork. That was my intent even before COVID-19. I noticed how much we were printing and knew we could totally do this digital.
What do you enjoy most about The County?
DM: I like living in a rural environment. You know everybody…
JY: …except for in the summer and on weekends! I was born in Picton, grew up on Big Island on a dairy farm. I went to college. After college, my wife took a placement in Windsor, so off we went. And then that six-hour drive from home was too much.
DM: Same story for me. I’m from Milford. My wife is a Hagerman. She went to school and we lived in Ottawa for a couple of years. She had to come back to the farm: that’s just the way it goes. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else anyway.
How do you stay involved in the community?
JY: I’m also a volunteer fire fighter, and I love that job. We do a lot of community activities like the Kickstart Days, the dunk tank, community education and fundraisers like BBQs and the Christmas Tree sales. All of the money we raise goes back into the community. COVID-19 has changed a lot of that, but we’re trying to plan some drive-through events.
As a volunteer fire fighter, I also want everyone to be aware of the green light. If you see a green light on top of a vehicle, that’s a volunteer fire fighter responding to an emergency and you should give the right of way.
DM: We’re at different points in life. His kids are all grown up and mine are still little tiny things so my time is limited – I can’t wait until my kids are a little older and I’ll have more time. I have a nine-month-old, a two-year-old, and a five-year-old. It’s busy!
Darius and Jason want you to call before you dig! Request a utility locate any time you plan to break ground. Go to OntarioOneCall.ca for more information.