Tofino’s top engineer leaves district amidst massive sewage treatment project

District office currently working through $60 million sewage treatment plant

Tofino lost a significant sprocket in its sewage treatment chain last week.

Ricardo Araya has left the district’s Manager of Engineering and Public Works position that he had held for over three years. The role officially became vacant on Nov. 4.

“I am leaving Tofino and the District of Tofino to pursue other opportunities with my family that are unrelated to work,” Araya told the Westerly News. “I wish the District all the best and feel grateful for all I learned and was able to participate in during my time here.”

The district’s chief administrative officer Bob MacPherson told the Westerly that Araya had advised the district in the summer that he would be leaving his role, so there’s been plenty of time to prepare for his departure.

“On behalf of district staff and council, we wish Ricardo nothing but the best in his future endeavors,” McPherson said.

It’s a tough time for Tofino to lose its top engineer as the district is currently working through a $60 million sewage treatment plant that the federal government has mandated must be in place by 2020.

“There has been a lot of work done and, while we have had consultants who have done a lot of the heavy lifting, both Ricardo and I were very involved in guiding this project,” MacPherson said. “There shouldn’t be any hiccups here…I’ve needed to be involved anyway and since we’ve known that Ricardo was leaving, I’ve made sure that I’m as up to speed as I possibly can be with the wastewater treatment plant, so I’m continuing to provide guidance to our team and to council as we make decisions to get this thing delivered.”

He said the Manager of Engineering and Public Works position would likely be tweaked with some responsibilities being moved to other roles in light of the sewage treatment plant’s workload.

“Specifically, the delivering of infrastructure projects might be split off from that, given the magnitude of what’s coming at us…We’ve looked at the job description and we’ve looked at our needs coming up and we’re making some tweaks to job descriptions knowing that we’ll have to add some personnel for delivering a $60 million project,” he said. “We’re trying to line all of that up now, that will be completed this week and then we’ll be going out to the marketplace looking for some new staff for engineering and public works.”

He said the district planned to begin advertising the position this week and expects to have somebody hired early in the New Year.

“We’re going to align our organization with this work that’s coming up over the next three years, the wastewater treatment plant as well as a few other capital projects that need to get done,” he said. “But, certainly, as we’re advertising and recruiting, the construction of a wastewater treatment plant is going to be front and centre with our considerations.”

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READ MORE: Tofino receives more than $40M in funding for new sewage treatment plant

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