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 Ron Doornbos, Facilities Maintenance Labourer. His team takes care of all municipal facilities including town halls, County offices and work sites, parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities.
Can you start by giving an overview of your job?
A typical day in facilities maintenance is not predictable and often changes on the fly based on work orders that come in. This morning I have already been to Picton Town Hall to work on a heating and cooling project, went to our roads yard on Sandy Hook to plan for a repair project at that building, and we dropped lumber in Carrying Place to rebuild the bleachers at the Westfall Park ball diamonds. It’s always something different, and variety is a fun part of the job. We do routine duties like monthly fire tests and monitoring of all our buildings, but generally we do what we can to keep things operating smoothly for everyone.
How long have you worked with The County?
I started with The County in 2011 in a custodian position at Shire Hall. In September of 2015 I was able to move into my current role, which is a part-time assignment as facilities maintenance labourer. Prior to this, I enjoyed a 30-year career as a recreation instructor with the Ministry of Community and Social Services at Prince Edward Heights here in Picton, and then after the closing of the Heights, at Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls. I thoroughly enjoyed my time supporting developmentally challenged adults in these roles, but after my early retirement, I wanted to do something totally different, which brought me to my employment with The County.
What do you like most about the job and working for The County?
Working for The County has been a great experience. I’ve had the opportunity to learn new skills and as I said earlier, our days are quite varied. We have a great team within the Recreation and Community Facilities group who support each other in all of our everyday tasks. Our team has a lot of seasonal duties which has us clearing snow from our hall sidewalks, opening/closing our park washrooms or renovating a work area. An enjoyable part is that we get to meet and do work for most of our County staff in all of their work places, and we get to work with some really great local contractors, too
When you show up to a work site, people love to see you. You’re the fixer. I wouldn’t want to spend my retirement working anywhere else!
How has COVID-19 impacted your work?
COVID has been impactful to our group in a couple of ways. Initially we were able to spend a few weeks catching up on some long overdue painting and floor replacing at Bloomfield Town Hall, but as time went on and protocols started to become a fact of life, Greg Valleau, the Facilities Maintenance Foreman, and I were tasked with building and installing lexan glass at various work sites. We also changed our furnace filter program to ensure optimum air circulation in our halls and work sites. All filters are now changed more frequently with a higher Merv standard to keep our air as clean as possible.
Last summer brought a lot of adjustments, with all of the challenges that COVID and the high number of tourists presented. We had to modify our washroom stalls and install touchless fixtures in a lot of locations. With more people around, more things break or need attention and they need to be fixed quickly.
The team has really prepared for the summer and we’ve had great support from leadership and other parts of our department like the recreation staff. We have a much greater level of comfort and understanding of what is required of us, and we are preparing in advance for many of the common challenges. We have thicker skins and we won’t be surprised by the things that come our way.
What do you enjoy most about The County?
The County is certainly a beautiful place to live and raise a family. My wife and I enjoy living here in Picton and totally understand the influx of tourists wanting to visit here.
How do you stay involved in the community?
At work, our group has a very strong community presence in ensuring that our town halls are open and running efficiently. We often get to meet the various hall user groups who are always glad to greet and have small chats with us.
My volunteer days have taken a break over the last few years after many years in an executive role with Prince Edward Minor Hockey. These days, enjoying time with my family, especially my granddaughter, occupy my spare time.
Read all of the Here for our Community staff profiles on The County’s website.