Scott Butler and Good Roads ready to team up with U of T for a better Ontario

The Civil Engineering Industry Advisory Board (IAB) is an integral link in supporting and strengthening the Department’s relationships with key industries, fostering increased collaborative research, enhancing student experiential learning opportunities and increasing industry engagement. 

Our IAB is comprised of a group of experienced industry professionals who are all committed to the advancement of our students, faculty and the Department. 

We recently caught up with IAB member Scott Butler who is the Executive Director of Good Roads. 

What do you specialize in?  

As an organization, Good Roads is responsible for municipal transportation and infrastructure needs. I think my specialty as a non-engineer is translating the technical concerns of engineers into the consideration of councils and senior management with local governments.  

What career project are you most proud of?  

I was responsible for getting the new Municipal Asset Management Planning Regulation brought into effect. This was the culmination of a five-year advocacy campaign with various ministries at Queen’s Park. I think it has fundamentally changed the approach to infrastructure stewardship in Ontario and really puts us on a path to becoming world leaders in terms of maintaining and financing infrastructure assets.  

Why did you want to join the IAB?  

I felt it was an opportunity to understand and get some exposure to private sector considerations. I think municipalities tend to look at things almost from a service provision point of view and the perspective of private actors can be lost in that conversation where you’re not able to find common ground. I think it’s really important, and for us, our membership of Good Roads is comprised of 440 of the 444 municipalities, plus another 30 First Nations in Ontario, and being able to understand and operate in a space where those private sector interests, those academic interests and where those public interests come together, being able to find common ground in that space is really fundamental to success.

How can somebody in the Department, faculty or students, take advantage of their connection to you? 

Scott Butler carrying the Olympic torch.
Scott Butler carrying the Olympic torch in the run up to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Well, there are a couple of different ways. We have engineers on staff who are always looking at emerging processes of emerging technologies. If there’s something that is coming up where there’s direct application to linear assets like roads, sewers or water mains, certainly we’d be prepared to assist in terms of connecting researchers, faculty and grad students with municipalities who are the primary custodians of a lot of these assets.  

We’ve also entered research partnerships in the past. It’s always something we’re prepared to do, particularly when that interface between private, public and academic realities can be found.  

It’s an interesting model having this advisory committee to understand how both public and private interests interact with academia. I think that it’s a really great opportunity to be associated with a world class research institution. 

What would you be doing right now if you weren’t the executive director at Good Roads? 

I think in my misbegotten youth, I had dreams of either pushing the ball up in the backcourt for the Detroit Pistons or possibly patrolling the right wing for Crystal Palace in the Premiership, but neither of those came to fruition.  

But seriously, I love my job right now and I’m always thinking about how I can make the best use of this opportunity I’ve been given here…unlike all those long begotten professional soccer and basketball dreams.  

What’s something that a lot of people don’t know about you?

I have carried the Olympic torch three times. Besides the Vancouver games in 2010, I carried it for the Calgary Games in ‘88, which is a clear indication of how old I am.

Learn more about Civil Engineer’s Industry Advisory Board

By David Goldberg