Mitch Zamojc is commissioner of public works in the expanding Region of Peel, Ontario. The region plans to divert 70% of waste away from landfills by 2016. Photo: Region of Peel

Mitch Zamojc gives most of the credit for success to his team. “You can't win the Stanley Cup with one player,” he said. “I will say to anybody that it's the best group of people, the most dedicated, the most passionate, helpful team possible. You can't win [APWA Top 10] without it, you really can't.” Zamojc has been commissioner for the rapidly growing Region of Peel in Ontario for the past 25 years.

During high school, Zamojc realized that he wanted to pursue a technical career. After earning an engineering degree, he worked two or three jobs before entering the municipal field. Although his technical training helped prepare him for his position, people skills and building strong teams have been the most beneficial factors.

One of the Region of Peel's main goals is to divert 70% of its solid waste away from landfills by 2016. There are multiple phases to accomplish this. An organics plant with greater capacity is needed to handle kitchen wastes. “Residents need opportunities to divert and to deal with their waste if we want them to divert,” said Zamojc. The current three-bag limit on garbage will be reduced to two bags. Anything beyond that must be tagged and paid for.

Large facilities are being constructed for waste management in the Region of Peel. These include single stream recycling, organics processing, and transfer stations. Large trunk sewers are being tunneled.

The Region of Peel's population increases by about 30,000 people each year. A master plan is in place, along with infrastructure plans to accommodate growth. Expansion is one of the biggest issues affecting waste collection, wastewater treatment, roads, and traffic.

Zamojc has found public works to be a rewarding field. “You can achieve a lot of personal satisfaction because you can begin projects, finish projects, and see tangible evidence of them,” he said. “If you're in a public works profession or engineering profession you essentially touch everything. Everywhere you look there is some aspect of engineering.”

On being selected for APWA's Top 10 Leaders of 2005, Zamojc said, “I'm humbled by it. I've met many people over the years, at APWA conferences and so on, and there are many very, very good leaders. To be in that group is a humbling experience.”