Lisa Leblanc has become the first woman take the helm of the City of New Westminster’s engineering department.
Leblanc, who started working as the city’s transportation manager in September 2015, has appointed as director of engineering. She takes on a role previously held by Jim Lowrie, who retired in April.
Leblanc said she’s one of only a handful of women in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, including Pitt Meadows and West Vancouver, where women have the top jobs in engineering departments.
“New Westminster is a dynamic, interesting and important city, and I think that much of what we do here and how we do it sets a very high standard,” she said. “It’s rewarding to be part of that, and I look forward to doing more of it with the engineering department.”
Leblanc said she’s ready to bring the energy, compassion and commitment she’s brought to the transportation division to the rest of the engineering department.
“I made a decision fairly early in my career to work in public service, in a capacity that supports and improves peoples’ daily lives,” she said in an email to the Record. “Local government is about as close as we can get as engineers to doing work that affects peoples’ daily lives, and it’s essential that we have people in positions like mine who care about the people we serve. I’m one of those people.”
Richard Fong, the city’s director of human resources, said the city retained an external executive search firm, which conducted a comprehensive recruitment process with more than 50 candidates. He said a search committee participated throughout the recruitment process, culminating in city council’s appointment of Leblanc as the new director.
“Lisa has been an integral part of our engineering team, working on the council priority delivering sustainable transportation initiatives in response to the climate emergency and achieving net zero emissions by 2050,” Lisa Spitale, the city’s chief administrative officer, said in a news release. “I’m excited to welcome Lisa as our new director of engineering and look forward to her leadership as we continue to forge ahead to create a more livable and sustainable city for all.”
Leblanc, a professional engineer, holds a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering and a master of science degree in planning and development.
Her previous jobs include water supply policy and planning at Metro Vancouver and active transportation and strategic planning at the City of Vancouver.
“The City of New Westminster is a dynamic, complex and important place, and the engineering department is foundational to delivering the services that support the community,” she said in a press release. “I am excited by this opportunity to lead this department in serving the city’s sustainability goals.”
According to the press release, during her time in New Westminster Leblanc has been committed to removing barriers to universal accessibility, expanding and improving the greenway and bikeway network, and providing a reliable connection between the Quayside and Queensborough neighbourhoods via the Q to Q ferry.
As director of engineering, she looks forward to leading the engineering department to ensure that the city’s critical infrastructure is thoughtfully planned and delivered. She also wants to ensure that the city’s core operational services, such as water distribution, liquid and solid waste management, greenways, sidewalks and roads and civic buildings and facilities, are well maintained.