From the Olympics to City Hall: Blais is new Parks and Rec. di­rec­tor

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News - Matthew Gourlie

Derek Blais al­ways wanted to be a park and rec. di­rec­tor in Saskatchewan -- he just got side-tracked by Hockey Canada for seven years.

Blais was re­cently named the City of Moose Jaw’s new di­rec­tor of Parks and Re­cre­ation and he will as­sume his post on Jan­uary 21.

“Go­ing to school, my whole goal was to be a rec. di­rec­tor in Saskatchewan some­where. I kind of got side­tracked,” Blais said.

Blais was the co­or­di­na­tor of Hockey Canada’s men’s na­tional teams and also man­ager of hockey op­er­a­tions with the na­tional hockey gov­ern­ing body. Fol­low­ing that, he served as re­cre­ation man­ager for the City of Prince Al­bert for the past fourand-a-half years.

“I got a sum­mer job with Hockey Canada and that grew into be­ing a co­or­di­na­tor and then be­ing a man­ager fairly quickly. I worked with five world ju­niors and fouror five-men’s worlds teams; I worked with the Olympic team,” Blais said.

His du­ties with the men’s na­tional team in­volved the deal­ing with a lot of the dayto-day de­tails of an elite pro­gram un­der high-pres­sure con­di­tions -- of­ten in a for­eign coun­try.

“Ba­si­cally, my role was any type of lo- gis­ti­cal work with the na­tional team -book­ing flights, meals, ho­tels, ice times, but also hir­ing the sup­port staff. So that in­volved get­ting the train­ers, the ther­a­pists, the equip­ment man­agers and then work­ing closely with the coaches to en­sure they have ev­ery­thing that they need,” Blais said.

Born in Debden, Blais earned a Bach­e­lor of Ap­plied Busi­ness and En­trepreneur­ship with a ma­jor in Sport and Re­cre­ation from Mount Royal Col­lege in Cal­gary. Be­cause he al­ways in­tended to get into parks and re­cre­ation, his time with Hockey Canada also al­lowed him to see how fa­cil­i­ties were run in a di­verse set of lo­ca­tions. “There was a lot of good ex­pe­ri­ence there from a man­ager’s point of view, but I also got to see how other com­mu­ni­ties op­er­ate which helps with where I’m go­ing right now,” Blais said. “The op­por­tu­nity to move to Prince Al­bert was a chance to get back to what I went to school to do af­ter some amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ences with Hockey Canada. Now to be able to fur­ther this in Moose Jaw is pretty ex­cit­ing.” When Blais starts, he says the first step is to start to get to know the op­er­a­tions and go from there. While Prince Al­bert is a com­pa­ra­ble size in the same prov­ince, Blais said that there are dif­fer­ences with what fa­cil­i­ties are op­er­ated by City staff and which ones are op­er­ated by ex­ter­nal or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“There are def­i­nitely a lot of sim­i­lar­i­ties, but there are some dif­fer­ences,” he said. “It will be good to get some of the ques­tions an­swered as to why cer­tain things are op­er­ated a cer­tain way and be­ing able to com­pare to Prince Al­bert will be ben­e­fi­cial as well.” In Prince Al­bert he over­saw the Re­cre­ation Divi­sion’s an­nual op­er­at­ing and cap­i­tal bud­gets and man­aged the plan­ning, de­sign and con­struc­tion of a myr­iad of cap­i­tal projects within the Re­cre­ation Divi­sion.

Blais knows that there are some is­sues that need to be ad­dressed go­ing for­ward once he set­tles into his role at City Hall. “I know there have been some things that have been talked about -- hav­ing a look at the out­door pool, I un­der­stand that’s get­ting fairly old. Plus, look­ing at some of the op­er­a­tions with the Yara Cen­tre and Mo­saic (Place) and things like that,” Blais said. “Those are some items that I’ve al­ready spo­ken to (City ad­min­is­tra­tion) about and they’ll be some of the press­ing items at first.”

While there are a lot of ques­tions about what will hap­pen to the op­er­a­tions at Yara Cen­tre and Mo­saic Place in the wake of the dis­so­lu­tion of the Down­town Fa­cil­ity and Field House (DFFH) board in the sum­mer, Blais is en­ter­ing the job with an open mind.

“Com­ing in with a clean per­spec­tive is def­i­nitely go­ing to be a ben­e­fit,” he said. Derek and his wife Ash­lee are ex­pect­ing their third child and are look­ing for­ward to mov­ing to the Friendly City.

Derek Blais will start as the City of Moose Jaw’s new di­rec­tor of Parks and Re­cre­ation on Jan­uary 21.

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