THE BOTTOM LINE!
By Frank Kurz
In this time of fiscal constraint, paring one’s budget to essential expenses is both prudent and responsible. You can’t, after all, continue spending money you don’t have on luxuries. Everyone (individuals and Governments alike) must identify those expenses deemed essential and ensure adequate provision for their continued survival is provided. You can’t live without heat, light, food or water. A Government can’t function without rules and regulations to safeguard its citizens, and without someone to maintain those rules. We call these individuals regulators (and Police too).
The recent spate of budgetary restructuring announcements by the City of Vancouver has crossed the fine line separating “the reasonable” from “the unreasonable” with the serving of layoff notices to several of the city’s inspectors and regulators. Compromising the safety of its citizens isn’t something the Council (or the city’s management) should even be considering, yet this is exactly what they are doing. We are already experiencing phenomenal growth in new construction and the expected spin-off from our Olympic Exposure will only ensure more (at least according to the rhetoric heard from city and Provincial officials at every media opportunity). Vancouver's Inspections Department is the finest in the country, made up of the professional elite in the electrical, structural, mechanical, and building disciplines. The city enjoys a reputation for building safety that is second to none yet here we are on the verge of seriously undermining all that (if we haven’t already done so).
What makes the abrupt dismissal of Arkady Tsisserev by the City of Vancouver so puzzling is that here we have an individual who is internationally recognised as a leader in the fields of electrical and life safety, who has suddenly been cast off in the same callous manner as one would throw out the garbage.
Ark Tsisserev arrived on the shores of this great country in 1978 with his wife, Isabel and family, and little more in the way of possessions than two precious degrees in Electrical Engineering, a Masters and a Ph.D., from the Ukraine. His first brush with regulators came when he attempted to obtain his engineering equivalency from the Province of Manitoba’s Professional Engineers Association. Ark was certainly not the first immigrant with an advanced degree who failed to breach the many protectionism barriers North American professional associations erect to keep out the "riff-raff". Unlike many who choose to pursue alternate careers as taxi drivers, cooks, and gas station attendants however, Ark got down to the business of working on his dream of Canadian accreditation. He achieved that goal when he obtained his Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Manitoba and he hasn’t looked back since.
Ark’s second brush with regulators came in 1983 when he was hired by the City of Winnipeg as a plan designer and checker moving up through the ranks quickly to become section head of the electrical department in 1984. Oh, I forgot to mention that he started in another very rewarding aspect of his career in 1982 when he became a teaching assistant at the University of Manitoba. He’s taken on the mantle of teacher on many occasions. In fact, it’s during one of the electrical and emergency systems seminars he pioneered that I had the singular privilege of meeting him for the first time. That was in 1996; Ark had joined the City of Vancouver and been appointed the City Electrician three years before.