Being a working professional doesn’t mean that you’re limited to pursuing a career in a big city. You can also find the same challenge and career opportunities in a smaller, tight-knit community.
This is certainly true for our three-person strong Courtenay office. As part of the RDH Vancouver Island team, Harvey Goodman, Robin Breuer, and Daniel Calero take pride in being able to connect with building owners and project teams on a more personal level—something that can be absent in larger cities. Outside of work, the possibilities are endless; whether they are taking advantage of the outdoors or immersing themselves in the community, the island lifestyle has captured the hearts of our team.
I caught up with our Courtenay team to get some insight on the so-called “island life” and what they enjoy about representing RDH in their community.
Lucas: Thanks for joining me today. As you know, this conversation aims to highlight our Courtenay office and what it is like to live and work in the North Island region. So, straight off the bat, what do you enjoy most about Courtenay?
Harvey: For me, it is a bundle of three things: I love living near the ocean, I love living near the mountains, and I very much enjoy the variety of work that one gets as part of a small office.
Robin: The ease of access to outdoor activities, including skiing and mountain biking, as well as markets and stores that sell locally grown food and locally made goods. The commute to work is a huge bonus as well.
Daniel: We live in Campbell River and love that we are steps away from the ocean; the views here are incredible. I moved from Toronto and certainly don’t miss the snow or the traffic. I actually look forward to my commute to the office—no traffic and beautiful views of the ocean and mountains, it’s a pretty relaxing drive (Editor’s note: Harvey’s commute is 10 minutes as is Robin’s. Harvey goes through one traffic light and it’s almost always green.)
“I actually look forward to my commute to the office—no traffic and beautiful views of the ocean and mountains, it’s a pretty relaxing drive.”
Lucas: I am interested to hear what convinced you to make Courtenay home. Can you tell me some of the factors in your decision?
Harvey: The mountains, the ocean, the climate, and the lifestyle that comes with a smallish, but not extremely small, community—roughly 80,000 when I last checked.
Robin: Moving from Vancouver, what sold me was still being within touching distance of an international airport and easy access to Mount Washington ski hill. Being central to most of the island also makes a good spot to base yourself out of.
Daniel: Our family enjoys spending time outdoors; we never run out of things to do here. We currently enjoy hiking, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, surfing, and snowboarding. There are many more hobbies/outdoor sports that we would like to get into. It’s all very accessible on the island and specifically in Campbell River. We live within 5–10 minutes of many mountain biking and hiking trails, beaches (ocean and lakes), beautiful swimming holes and waterfalls, and within an hour from Mount Washington and Strathcona Provincial Park (skiing and backcountry hiking). We also enjoy the fact that we can buy most of our food locally, from farmers located 15–20 minutes away.
Lucas: Turning to the professional component of your lifestyle, how has the engineering/construction industry progressed in the region since you arrived?
Harvey: It has been booming over the last few years as many people from elsewhere in Canada move here for the climate, relative affordability, and nature.
Robin: The local municipalities have implemented the BC Step Code (currently Step 2), so we expect there will be a change in the way clients approach projects. This is going to be a great opportunity for RDH to demonstrate our value as we support project teams through this transition.
Daniel: I have only been here for about a year and a half, but I hear from all the locals that construction has been booming here over the last 5 years or so. Even with the pandemic, construction in the North Island has pushed forward; Campbell River even saw an increase in residential construction from 2019. The pandemic has affected all regions of Canada differently, but I find that for the most part, the island has seemed to be protected from a lot of it.
“This is going to be a great opportunity for RDH to demonstrate our value as we support project teams through this transition.”
Lucas: Looking back over the years, what are some of the projects that you are proud of?
Harvey: One project that stands out to me is the $4.3 million redevelopment of the Comox Public Works Yard buildings. We also make a significant impact on the community through the many depreciation reports and depreciation report updates where we have helped the owners understand their buildings and make informed decisions. That is very important to me.
Robin: Working with prestigious partners such as Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, but it is also awesome knowing we have improved a large number of multifamily buildings in the region.
Daniel: It’s early days for me here, but the Anandia Cannabis Innovation Centre was a pretty cool project to have been a part of.
Lucas: What does a typical workday look like for you here?
Harvey: It is a good mix of preparing reports and proposals in the office, but also getting out to conduct field [visits] and meetings with ownership groups. The team always make the effort to catch up and share stories with each other.
Robin: There is a lot of time spent on the road traveling to different parts of the island. It is essential to have a good playlist or podcast on hand.
Daniel: It depends on the season. During the summer, I would say my days are split evenly between the office and the field. In the winter, the fieldwork slows down a bit, not as much as I had initially thought when I first moved here, so make sure you have good rain gear.
“The team always makes the effort to catch up and share stories with each other.”
Lucas: To wrap things up, we do have a new position open on your team. What would you say to someone considering working at RDH Courtenay?
Harvey: If you want to be away from a large city, still live where there’s all that you need shopping- and entertainment-wise, be close to nature, and participate in a wide variety of projects, Courtenay is the place to be. P.S. Go West by The Pet Shop Boys is our promotional theme song; if anyone needs any more convincing, this should do it.
Robin: I second Harvey. This is a chance to work on a variety of projects and work with a personable, awesome team.
Daniel: I can’t add much more to what Harvey and Robin have said, other than you get a big desk with tons of space and a great view of the Comox glacier from your desk. Oh, and you’ll have to put up with a ton of really bad jokes…mostly from Harvey. (Kidding Harvey, your jokes are great.)
Lucas: Thanks guys, this was great. I appreciate your time and I’m glad to hear the island is treating you well!
Did you enjoy this conversation? Think working/living on Vancouver Island might be for you? Check out our job posting for a Building Science Technologist in Courtenay and apply to join the RDH team today! We look forward to hearing from you.