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Alumni Engagement

Going Places 2011: Sean Barnes

January 1, 2011

Sean Barnes, District Manager
PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
1991, Construction Engineering Technology

Red River College alum Sean Barnes doesn’t need to look far for examples of his career-related legacy.

Having served in a range of engineering and project management capacities for construction firm PCL Constructors Canada Inc. over the last 25 years, Barnes can proudly point out evidence of his handiwork in all corners of the province.

“Being in the industry for as long as I have, I now point out projects around Winnipeg to my children and say, ‘When Daddy was younger, he worked on that project,’” says Barnes, who graduated from RRC’s Constructing Engineering Technology program back in 1991.

“Whenever we visit family in Stonewall, and we pass over the interchange at Highway No. 7 and the perimeter, the kids say, ‘Daddy is this your bridge?’ And I can say yes.”

The list of projects that Barnes has played a part in since signing on with PCL — the largest general contractor in Canada as well as in Manitoba, and the seventh-largest contracting firm in North America — is pretty staggering, indeed. When he started with the company in 1985, he was involved with the terminal expansion at the Winnipeg International Airport. In the years since, he’s personally managed over $1.6 billion worth of projects, including civil work for the province, Manitoba Hydro and the mining industry in northern Manitoba.  He has also worked on remote, winter road and air accessible projects in First Nations communities, as well as commercial and institutional projects in Winnipeg and other parts of the province.

“The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is one of the most complicated buildings being constructed in North America, if not the most complicated,” says Barnes, who now serves as District Manager responsible for PCL’s operations in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. “There’s a great deal of engineering required to form and support the geometry of this iconic building.  It is an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience to be involved in a project such as the museum.” Barnes is also very excited about the Disraeli Bridges Project (P3 – Public Private Partnership) that is just getting underway for the City of Winnipeg.

Barnes’ influence can also be felt outside Manitoba. In 1999, he transferred to Toronto, where he managed such high-profile projects as the Niagara Fallsview Casino, the Ted Rogers School of Business (at Ryerson University), the Durham Consolidated Courthouse and the Royal Conservatory of Music. He also served a stint in the Bahamas, where he contributed to the expansion of the Atlantis Resort.

“Every project is different — the people are different, the challenges are different, and the owners’ objectives and expectations are different,” says Barnes. “And every project comes to an end. That variety always keeps things fresh, challenging and exciting”.

When he’s not busy leaving his mark on the local landscape, Barnes also serves on the board of directors for the Winnipeg Construction Association, and on the campaign cabinet for the United Way of Winnipeg. He credits his time at RRC with helping him “learn the language and develop a base skill set” relevant to the construction industry, and has prepared him for a rich and rewarding career in which he’s played a tangible role in Manitoba’s growth.