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Breaking Boundaries at “The Best Show In Public Works” in Toronto

September 15, 2014

Breaking Boundaries at “The Best Show In Public Works” in Toronto

By John Rodeberg, APWA-MN President

As many members of the Minnesota Chapter enjoyed another incredible APWA International Congress in Toronto last month, our thoughts and efforts were also starting to focus on 2016 when Minnesota will be the host of the “Best Show in Public Works.”

Toronto and the Ontario Chapter put on an incredible show in a truly vibrant city. Check out a video of the Congress highlights with a great cameo by Minnesota Chapter past-president and Harry S Swearingen Award Winner Lee Gustafson.

As usual, our General Session speakers were fantastic:

Jennifer Keesmat, chief planner with the City of Toronto, gave us “Insight Into Toronto: Creating Places Where People Flourish.” Toronto is now the fourth largest city in North America -- recently passing Chicago -- and the growth is visible everywhere you look.

Chris Hadfield, former commander of the International Space Station and professor at the University of Waterloo, told us that “The Sky Is The Limit,” in his discussion about what he has learned as part of his multiple adventures into space (which earned him a place on Canadian currency).

Ian Hill, public sector advocate and leadership development innovator, gave us “A Call to Action: What I’ve Learned About Leadership From The Canadians,” a rip-roaring sermon about the value of public works and the need for all of us to be passionate advocates. We will have the pleasure of Ian’s passionate advocacy as one of our speakers at the APWA-Minnesota Fall Conference (…don’t miss it!).

Alex Steffen, planetary futurist and best-selling author, closed the Congress by “Imagining Communities That Can Save The Planet.”

Members attended four days of workshops and sessions, starting on Sunday. Our members were involved in a “Super Session” regarding sustainability and the envision process, as well as meetings for Young Professionals, Chapter officers, and more.

On Sunday, the Ontario Chapter of APWA held their welcome event at the Liberty Grand building at the Canadian National Exhibition. We were treated to a fantastic assortment of foods from local vendors, as well as a terrific band playing rock and roll hits by Canadian artists.

On Monday, the Minnesota Chapter was the star of the 2014 APWA Awards and Recognition Ceremony, with the most awards of any chapter:

  • Randy Neprash, Professional Manager of the Year: Water Resources
  • Bolton & Menk, Diversity Exemplary Practices Award
  • Lee Gustafson, Harry S. Swearingen Award for Outstanding Chapter Service  (Individual)
  • SEH, Harry S. Swearingen Award for Outstanding Chapter Service  (Corporation)
  • WSB, Exceptional Performance Award: Journalism
  • City of Minneapolis, Technical Innovation Award
  • St. Louis County / LHB, Project of the Year: Disaster or Emergency Construction
  • City of River Falls / SEH , Project of the Year: Transportation < $5 million (co-submitted by Minnesota and Wisconsin)
  • Metropolitan Airports Commission / Kimley-Horn, Project of the Year: Transportation (between $5 and $25 million)
  • Presidential Award for Chapter Excellence (PACE) – 10th Year!
  • City of Bloomington, Excellence in Snow and Ice Control

Learn more about award winners and view photos

See photos from APWA Congress 2014

After the ceremony, we celebrated with the Minnesota Chapter (and our token Wisconsinite, Reid Wronski) and enjoyed an evening of food and socializing.

Tuesday night was our Chapter dinner at the Amsterdam BrewHouse. We had a great location right on Lake Ontario, and enjoyed the company of folks from the Arizona chapter as well as a few of our Aussie friends.

Having such a great event really got us excited about starting to plan for the 2016 Congress in Minneapolis. We were able to meet chapters that have previously held Congress, as well as the Arizona Chapter that will host next year’s Congress. We got some great advice, and will soon be kicking off our planning. Get ready to help! You will all be needed to make the 2016 Congress in Minneapolis a success.

All of the Chapter officers had fond memories of Congress this year:

“I loved the Congress location (Toronto) and the venue (convention center). Very enjoyable to see our adopted Iowan, Larry Stevens be sworn in as this year’s APWA President. Way to go Larry! And I was also both impressed and relieved that we had such a great showing (82) of Minnesota Chapter members and guests signup and attend the Chapter Dinner held at the Amsterdam BrewHouse.” --Bob Cockriel

“A favorite memory of mine was getting up early to participate in the run/walk event held out on the Toronto Island Park. The ferry took off in the dim early morning light and a brisk breeze cooled the air. By the time of the start of the race, the sun was out and sparkling on the beautiful lake. The island park was really interesting to see, the course flat and the weather perfect! The Ontario Chapter was very organized, gave out great shirt, and had wonderful egg and spinach breakfast burritos and donut holes for the after race feast!. Minnesota had a good representation, including our Minnesota front runner Dale Reed. Joining him on the run was Jupe Hale, Paul and Michelle Pasko, Deb Kaiser, Shelly Pederson and Jesse Struve, Wayne Houle, and I did the 3k walk. Everyone was a winner that day.” –Sue Mason

“My favorite part was the Minnesota pride at the Awards Ceremony!  The amount of awards presented to Minnesota was amazing. The Minnesota contingency that attended the awards ceremony was supplied with light-flashing rings compliments of Sue Mason. When a Minnesota representative received their award, the rings with start flashing and cheers would erupt! We then proceeded to the after-ceremony toast in honor of the award recipients, and had a chance to mingle and celebrate the night. Minnesota should be proud!” –Angela Popenhagen

“The awards ceremony was my favorite part as well. I also really enjoyed learning everything about Toronto: the size, development pressures, the condo craze, and the most surprising thing -- the huge wine industry. My favorite part as a visitor was seeing Niagara Falls -- what a breathtaking natural beauty.” –Lee Gustafson

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