Goard Way project renews Burnaby Campus

Goard Way renewal
Speakers and participants from BCIT and PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc.  at the BCIT Goard Way Infrastructure Renewal Presentation and Tour September 11, 2015. (That’s Francisco on the far right. He’s the one left holding the bag).

For Francisco (“Cisco”) Arguello, a BCIT alumnus, BCIT’s Goard Way Infrastructure Renewal Project was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

At $11 million, it was a complex, major reconstruction project. The main purpose was to replace the BC Hydro feeder lines, and a receiving station and substation that powered the entire south half of the Burnaby campus.

In fact, all the underground utilities in this area (electrical, water, and storm sewer) were more than 50 years old and overdue for upgrading.

By replacing these aging utilities, and by building in extra capacity at various points (like the substation) the project increased available energy and set BCIT up for the next 50 years, providing safe, reliable power for present connections and flexibility to meet future energy needs.

The project also used environmental best practices such as controlling storm surges and cleaning any run-off water before it entered Guichon Creek.

It dramatically improved facilities above ground as well. New spaces for social gathering, water features, seating areas and energy-efficient lighting were introduced to the streetscape.

For any up and coming project manager, this would look very good on the résumé.
(Kind of a “feather in the hard hat.”) But for Francisco Arguello, most important was that doing this project well would be a way for him to give back to BCIT.

A feather in the hard hat

When the site drawings were dropped on his desk at PCL Constructors more than a year ago, Arguello said to his boss, “I have to do this job!”

For Cisco, this was one of those moments when the stars align, when past and future converge, and he knew exactly what he had to do.

In 1987, Arguello and his family fled Nicaragua, where young men were being conscripted into the army and forced to fight a brutal war against insurgents.

Before Cisco was drafted, the family left the warm tropics on a plane bound for Canada. They left everything behind. A few hours later, they arrived in Edmonton, determined to start a new life. It was mid-winter and -40C. Much of his family is still there.

In 1996, Arguello came to Vancouver looking for an education. Before that he had driven highway trucks for a few years. He picked up the courses he needed to get into BCIT’s Civil and Structural Engineering program, and in 2000 he graduated from the two-year diploma program.

Cisco started with PCL Constructors in 2004. He had worked his way up to Project Manager when the drawings for the BCIT renewal project were dropped on his desk.

“How many people get to go back and build something for the school they went to?” says Cisco. “I felt really emotional because of the opportunity to come back here and do something for BCIT.”

“This was not just a job. It was a privilege to manage this project,” he says. “I believe this is an important project for BCIT, especially for the future.”

The Goard Way Renewal Project opened to little fanfare in October. And that’s the way PCL Project Manager Francisco Arguello wanted it. Quietly, efficiently, the electricity flows, lighting buildings, heating classrooms, powering BCIT for another 50 years.

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