CBCL Ltd. (Nova Scotia)

Growing water resource management knowledge: Flood risk management, stormwater management and climate change adaptation

Quinn at Bay of Fundy.

Quinn Snook, a Science Horizons intern, at Bay of Fundy, Saint John, New Brunswick. Photo credit: Quinn Snook.

For CBCL Ltd., a consulting engineering firm based in Halifax, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Science Horizons Youth Internship program provides “breathing room” to implement training programs and see if new employees are a good fit for its work environment.

It’s a great incentive for small and medium-size enterprises to hire recent graduates needing business-skills training, says Lindsay Bolton, a project manager with CBCL which has offices throughout Atlantic Canada and Ontario and about 400 employees.

The employee-owned company hired Quinn Snook, a civil engineering graduate from Memorial University in St. John’s, NL, first as an intern and then full-time as a Water Resources Engineer-in-Training. His internship wage subsidy was secured through BioTalent Canada, funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Snook was “a great addition to the team,” says Bolton, Group Lead Water Resources and Climate Change in CBCL’s Saint John, NB, office. “He was strong technically and had skills in hydrology that are not commonly found.”

It was a good example of having an opportunity to bring someone on who was new and showed promise, she says – “we gave him a try through the program and he worked out really well.”

Snook had planned to become a computer engineer when he went to university but switched to civil engineering because he found the field more intriguing. He learned about water resources and hydrology when he took a course in fluid mechanics with Joseph Daraio, an associate professor in Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “I became interested in how water moves and how it’s affected by its surroundings,” he says.

Snook worked on CBCL projects involving flood-risk management, storm-water management and climate change adaptation with municipalities in the Atlantic region.

His first project was building a model of the city’s wastewater collection system as part of the city’s “Growth Management Strategy,” an ongoing project. Models such as these are used to assess the systems’ capacities to handle greater volumes of water predicted in future because of property development and climate change. They can help determine where improvements can be made.

Quinn at Saint John, New Brunswick.

Quinn Snook, a Science Horizons intern, at CBCL Ltd., Saint John, New Brunswick. Photo credit: Karen Lester.

As an intern and as a full-time employee, he has also worked on models for the Town of Rothesay, NB, which has experienced severe flooding in the past. This project identified solutions to improve the town’s network of storm sewers, culverts, and overland drainage channels. He has also worked on water resource projects for the City of Saint John, NB.

The internship at CBCL was fruitful. “The main benefits for me were that it started my career after graduating, let me try living and working in another province and helped expand my professional network,” he says. He also gained time management and communications skills, he adds.

Still, the COVID-19 pandemic proved challenging. Snook moved from Newfoundland to New Brunswick in early March 2020. After two weeks in the office employees started working from home which limited the scope of his work and interactions with other employees. “Once we returned to working in the office, I got to know more of my coworkers, which led to working on a larger variety of projects,” he says.

Bolton too is happy to be back in the office. She says the most difficult part of the pandemic was maintaining mentorship and communications with the newer employees. When you work in an office you learn about other projects almost by osmosis, she explains.

She is delighted that CBCL secured the Science Horizons internship. “We have a relatively small but growing water resources group in New Brunswick and can be cautious about bringing on new people before we have tested their technical capabilities” she says. “The funding gives us time for proper training. We don’t need new employees to know all the answers the first day they show up.”

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