Grateful neighbours throw BBQ to thank road construction crew

Craig Joris and Matt Taylor give the outdoor lunch a thumbs-up. Submitted Photo

Tara Jeffrey

Joyce and Don Philip know hard work when they see it.

“We’ve been in the construction and trucking industry for a long time,” said Joyce Philip, whose Talfourd Street neighbourhood has been torn up in the midst of a $5.5 million road construction project.

“These guys are so good at their job, so my husband wanted to treat them; he had someone treat him kindly once, so he wanted to return the favour.”

So the couple, along with neighbour Rene Work, decided to host a barbecue lunch for the 15-member crew from Van Bree Drainage.

The hosts of the barbecue, from left, Don Philip, Joyce Philip, Rene Work.
Submitted Photo

“I said there was no need for that – we’re just doing our jobs,” said site foreman Victor Lopes, but the couple insisted.

Don and Rene set up tables, chairs, tents, coolers of water and pop, cooked hamburgers and hot dogs, and even handed out sweat bandanas and safety glasses for each worker.

“We don’t get that too often,” said Lopes. “Usually, it’s people criticizing us for ripping up the street and making a mess … even though, in the long run, it ends up beautiful.”

The project, slated to continue through to November, runs from Vidal to Mitton Streets, and includes the side streets Stuart, Emma and Margaret.

“I’ve been very ill, so I have to walk with a cane on unsteady ground, so they always watch for me, help me out, and carry my things,” said Philip.

“Even at night, we watch them clean up the job site. They really do work hard and they’re a nice bunch of guys.

“We just wanted to treat them and be good neighbours.”

Lopes said it’s common for workers to develop relationships with residents during lengthy projects like these.

“We get to know them and their routines, and hope they understand we’re doing our best to give them access,” he said. “My loader operator has been known to put groceries in his bucket, take it to their houses and unload, while they walk down the sidewalk, because they have to park further away.”

Meanwhile, members of Foursquare Sarnia Church also hosted a pizza lunch for the Talfourd Street Crew, and are planning another one.

“The guys loved it,” said Lopes. “Usually we get people saying thanks for the help and whatnot. But they’re all feeding us here.

“We really appreciate it.”

Some of the constuction crew lines up to fix their plates.
Submitted Photo