Outside of the big changes that took place during 2018 municipal election, the City of Thompson’s administration has also been subject to a staffing shake-up.
Most recently, Harkamaljeet Singh Gill was promoted to director of development services, replacing Anthony McInnis after he took on the role of city manager.
Even though Gill was assigned this new position at the beginning of October, he just moved into his new digs at City Hall on Halloween day, a full week before the new council was sworn in.
“It’s exciting,” said Gill, who has a background in civil engineering and worked as an assistant professor at the Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College in Ludhiana, Punjab, India. “Once the new council starts we’ll see how all the elected officials are looking forward to further the development of Thompson.”
As the new director of development services, Gill said his job overlaps with a lot of different departments.
For one thing, he’s responsible for overseeing the city’s many capital projects, including road improvement, water main renewal and the construction of the new structures like the wastewater treatment plant.
Luckily, Gill is already familiar with the ins and outs of these various projects, since he served as the city’s manager of infrastructure since June 2016.
“I was monitoring all the capital projects for the city, especially roads and water mains and all the RCMP and library buildings, and any upgrades to City Hall,” he said.
Gill’s other big focus as director of development services is attracting new investors to Thompson in a bid to diversify the economy and help cushion the blow from job losses at Vale.
Our plans are just to bring some more businesses and make a more sustainable community,” he said. “We’re working with Thompson 2020 and working with other organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and I’m working closely with the economic development officer Keisha [Davis].”
Over the next couple years, Gill believes that the biggest obstacle standing in his way is the lack of provincial support, since the government of Manitoba recently cut the city’s Municipal Road and Bridge Program funding in half.
“The infrastructure we are dealing with is not in good shape, especially with the water mains,” he said. “There is funding available, but they are not sufficient enough to replace that [infrastructure] in a quick manner.”
Despite these hurdles, Gill remains optimistic about the future, especially with so many high-profile construction projects on the go, including the new Liquor Mart and wastewater treatment plant, both of which are set to be completed in 2019.
“We have increased the pace from the last few years,” he said. “You see construction going around in the summer with the water main projects … and I hope it will be better than what it is now.”
If you would like to find out more about the city’s development services, or inquire about opening a business in Thompson, you can contact Gill at 204-677-7922 or firstname.lastname@example.org.