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Ryerson Urban Water

Nick Reid is the new Executive Director of RUW. Nick has a BSc Hon in Environmental Science & Biology from Trent University and has enjoyed a long career in the water and environmental sectors.

As an executive at the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA), he was general manager of the Region of Peel’s four main drinking water and wastewater plants, ensuring continuous service to 1.2 M residents under the largest operating contract in Ontario. One of Nick’s strengths is his collaborative work with a diverse network of stakeholders in organizations, municipalities, ministries, and industry, seeking opportunities to execute long‐term strategic initiatives fundamental to Ontario’s water sector. In his role with OCWA, he participated in several stakeholder consultations as the province developed the Water Opportunities Act and its Water Sector Strategy.

As an active member of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), Nick took over as chair of their Manufacturers and Associates Council Subcommittee on the Low Economic Value of Water.  In 2015 he became a Director of the Ontario Water Works Association and is also an active mentor with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, helping highly skilled immigrants adapt to Canadian business practices.

Most recently we bumped into Nick at the Ontario Environment and Cleantech Business and Policy Forum held on May 17, 2016, where he was moderating a panel discussion on how smart investment in water infrastructure supports climate change adaptation initiatives in Ontario communities. Joining Nick on the stage was George Cadette, Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Branch of MEDEI.

What is ONEIA?

ONEIA is the Ontario Environmental Industry Association.  It represents the interests of Environmental businesses in Ontario, providing a forum through which the sector can network, explore opportunities, address common concerns and advocate for smart policy that recognizes that environmental protection and growing the economy are interconnected.

Nick, what do you think is the value of the ONEIA Policy Forum?

The ONEIA Policy Forums are a great resource to everyone who has an interest in business and the environment.  From policy makers in government, to entrepreneurs and industry watch dogs, these sessions are a fantastic way to discuss the effectiveness of policy in protecting the environment and achieving the economic and social benefits that are desired.  A feature of the ONEIA sessions is the "Lunch With Deputies" format where attendees can hear first hand from senior leaders on policy issues of the day.


Were there any surprising outcomes or take home messages from the Forum?

The organizers set out to have a discussion on municipal case studies, yet there were no municipalities represented directly on issues that are of significant importance to communities.  It was observed that full cost pricing of water is still elusive in Ontario and the question was asked if innovation and demonstration of solutions should be a component of the price of water.  Also, difficulties with municipal procurement processes were a common theme amongst audience members in the water discussion.

How do you think RUW can contribute to moving the conversation forward? Are there policy challenges in Ontario that RUW can help to solve?

We have to keep the discussion going and seek out progressive municipal leadership who will support case studies with academic and industrial partners to address climate change adaptation.  But beyond that, we cannot simply expect that innovation will solve our problems in the short term.  Currently, it can take 20 years to put an innovation into practice and climate change is not waiting for us. This is why Ryerson's education pillar is so important.  An informed, engaged, and educated public can change behaviour immediately.


Interview by Pinaz Mehta, Industry Liaison Officer, Ryerson Urban Water