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

Derek Blais will assume role of Moose Jaw's new director of Parks and Recreation on January 21.

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, hockey operations with the national hockey governing body. Following that he served as recreation manager for the City of Prince Albert for the past four-and-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 four or 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 day-to-day details of an elite program under high-pressure conditions -- often in a foreign country.

"Basically my role was any type of logistical 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 said 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 (the 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.

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