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Relocating for work and contributing to a wonderful community

Michele Norman | Account Specialist at SNC-Lavalin

03 April 2019


Workplaces can occasionally present interesting adventures and opportunities, and that’s certainly true of mine. In 2017, I relocated for work from SNC-Lavalin’s Mississauga nuclear office to a small town of 8,000 people called Port Elgin, about a three hour drive away. I work in our nuclear business, processing RFPs and purchase orders by arranging bid discussions and assisting the proposal team. I also support the account manager for Bruce Power and look after the Port Elgin office.

One of our major clients is Bruce Power, located on the shore of Lake Huron in Kincardine and known for generating 30 percent of Ontario’s electricity. Not only are they fundamental to the electricity supply, but they harvest medical-grade Cobalt-60 used in brain cancer treatment. About two years ago, we began planning for a new base of operations closer to Bruce Power to better support the life extension work of their CANDU reactors through the Major Component Replacement (MCR) Project. It will take about 13 years to extend the life of the six units in need of refurbishment (two units were completed years earlier).

As our new Port Elgin office neared completion, I was presented an opportunity to work closer to the customer. I’d have to say good-bye to the notorious highway traffic on the Queen Elizabeth Way. Easy enough. My husband was happy to leave his job of 35 years to start a new chapter with me in Port Elgin, so he was on board. It all sounds easy and exciting, but to be fair, there are changes you need to prepare for.

We had to consider our young-adult children who were still living at home. Once the kids were settled in their own places, we sold our home in a skyrocketing real estate market and purchased a Port Elgin home, mortgage free! We are close to downtown - walking distance to restaurants, shops, a movie theatre, nature trails and the beach.

There’s a strong sense of community in Port Elgin (actually the entire Bruce County area). You really do get to know your neighbours (mine are awesome!). I now have more friends here than I did in the Toronto suburbs, and the people in town are friendly. Even our little long-haired Chihuahua loves it here. He has lots of space to roam and loves walks on the quiet streets and nature trails.

Through work, SNC-Lavalin became involved in the community. We sponsored the inaugural Lake Huron Gran Fondo cycling event raising funds for the Saugeen Memorial Hospital Foundation. SNC-Lavalin is returning for 2019 and my husband, son and I will participate in the 30-kilometre distance for the second time.

This past winter, our office was co-organizer with Acuren Nuclear Services hosting a fun business social with appearances by Mike Rencheck, President and CEO of Bruce Power and Luke Charbonneau, Mayor of Saugeen Shores. We raised funds for the Women’s Centre Grey & Bruce and the Kabaeshiwim Respite Women's Shelter at Saugeen First Nation, both receiving $9,250 each.