The first female land surveyor in the Cariboo was sworn in last week at Exton and Dodge Land Surveying Inc. in Williams Lake, coinciding with the company’s 50th anniversary. Veronica Meister was sworn in by Chuck Salmon, Secretary Registrar of the Association of B.C. Land Surveyors.
Meister, who was born and raised in Williams Lake, made a career change from classical piano to geomatics engineering and after working in the Fort St. John area in the oil and gas industry, moved back to her home town in 2014 and started working at Exton and Dodge.
She graduated from BCIT with distinction in 2012 with a Bachelors of Technology in Geomatics Engineering and said that the career change was a positive one for her.
“Land surveying is a technically challenging career that gives me the opportunity to work with leading edge technology, computers and GPS in both an office and outdoors environment,” she said.
“Land surveying encompasses measurements on the earth’s surface, and includes road and building layout and construction and the engineering aspect is more design, including topographic work and dam monitoring,” she explained.
“BCIT is great — I’d recommend it to anyone. The courses were very hands-on. We did math and physics but there was also lots of field training, drafting, GPS, tactical and skill training,” she continued. “When you’re done you’re ready to work: you know how to apply the training and education.”
She said that she has had a connection with Exton and Dodge for a few years.
“I worked for Doug Dodge as a summer student for two years and after I went to work in Fort St. John I would pop in the office once in a while and Doug asked me if I wanted to come back and offered me a job,” she stated.
“I started articling under a mentor while I was up north and when I started here I transferred to Doug as my mentor.”
The work here will be very different than what she did in the oil and gas industry.
“I went from well sites and pipelines to subdivisions, Hydro work and crown land surveys,” she noted. “We did all the work at Sugarcane for the highway widening project.”
Her work here will include a broad spectrum of surveys including legal and construction, topographic, control layout, engineering, easements, strata and subdivision design.
She said that she enjoys working with the people at Exton and Dodge.
“This is a much better learning environment for me; I’ll be a more well-rounded land surveyor working here,” she continued. “I really like working with Doug: he is very well-respected and a genuine professional and has won many awards in the field. He treats everyone with so much respect and Williams Lake is very lucky to have him here.”
Exton and Dodge was founded by Monty Exton and Gord McLaren in 1966. Current owner Doug Dodge received his Commission in 1976 and joined the firm as a partner shortly thereafter. The company has completed the majority of the legal surveys in Williams Lake.