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Michael Cantor (centre) with other members of City of Winnipeg Transportation Management team

By REBECA KUROPATWA

In 2006, when Michael  and Ronit Cantor decided to move to Winnipeg, it was after Michael’s exploratory visit and job opportunity research.

The Cantor family (l-r): Jonathan, Ronit, Ethan and Maya.

Michael’s work is as a transportation engineer. During his exploratory visit, he went to the Association of Engineers in the city to start the process of becoming licensed in Manitoba. This is likely one of the main reasons Michael was able to find a job in engineering within one week of arriving here in 2008.
Both Ronit and Michael were born in Russia and moved to Be’er Sheva in southern Israel in the late 1970s, as toddlers with their families.
As it happened, both of them have parents who are doctors, and they met in their teens during the hot Israeli summer. “We actually met as kids,” said Michael. “We were going to the same swimming pool in Be’er Sheva, really met at the pool at the end of the day.”

The Cantors came to Canada with two kids – Maya (14) and Jonathan (13) – and the family welcomed their newest addition, Eitan, who was born here over four years ago.

Back in March 2008, the Cantors enjoyed a Winnipeg welcome when they landed. “We came in a snowstorm and, unfortunately, the sleeves at the old airport in Winnipeg didn’t work,” recalled Michael. “So, we had to walk from the plane to the building...And, it was a scene - running with the kids and my mother-in-law in the snow...from the heat of Be’er Sheva to a snowstorm. It was an interesting welcome, but it was good. It was funny. I was laughing about it and it was a memorable experience.”
(Ed. note: Be’er Sheva is a sister city to Winnipeg.)

Michael’s career in Winnipeg, since getting his first job in 2008, has continued to stretch his managerial abilities with the City of Winnipeg’s traffic division. “I worked for eight-and-a-half-years as a traffic signals engineer, which include the overall management of the traffic signals branch...which is design, building, and maintaining all the traffic signals in the city. We have lots of them.
“Through 2015 to 2017, we designed, built, and implemented one of first traffic management center. Then, on October 2nd, I moved to a new position, as manager of streets maintenance.”

It took Michael a bit of time to adjust to the different traffic signals in Winnipeg, as they are different that those in Israel. “One of my stop signs, I put a hand, like in Israel, and the engineers said, ‘We don’t have this kind of thing,’” recalled Michael. “That was during my first few weeks at this job. It was funny. I didn’t realize that the sign was different. It was a funny moment. I needed to double check my signs.”

Michael’s latest work transition was due to him feeling the need for a new challenge, after almost nine years dealing with traffic signals. He went for his third interview in Winnipeg, hoping to – and succeeding in – becoming the head of street maintenance for the city.
“I moved from managing 50 people to a division with 500 people,” said Michael. “I thought I needed to grow. I felt like my energy wasn’t contributing to signals anymore. I didn’t have the same passion and hunger as I had before. Energy-wise, I wanted a new challenge.”

Michael enjoys working for the city, seeing it as a great way to have a direct effect on the quality of life of Winnipeggers, which includes him and his family.
“The services we provide are totally different throughout the yearly cycle,” said Michael. “We have different people coming in and out – more in the summer, less in the winter. Dealing with the winter becomes more enjoyable, because winter became work for me...because I’m looking for the snow, looking for the forecast, clearing the snow, spreading beet juice, de-icing materials, very interesting.”
Beet juice is being used in the city to increase traction, especially on bridges and ramps. “It’s the residual from the beet industry, and we use that for de-icing,” said Michael. “It’s better than salt, because it’s organic and can anti-ice for much colder temperatures.”

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