Nanaimo Council begins search for interim chief administrative officer

By Dominic Abassi
April 10, 2018 - 1:13pm Updated: April 10, 2018 - 3:07pm

After a decision by Council on Monday, the City is putting out the call for candidates to serve as interim CAO.File photo/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — More than two months after their city manager was arrested, Nanaimo Council is now searching for an interim replacement.

During an in-camera meeting Monday morning, councillors voted to begin the search for an interim chief administrative officer. Council was forced to look for new leadership options after a committee of seven senior staff members who were handling the workload stepped back from the duties last Thursday.

A job posting which opened April 10 on the City's website said they're seeking expressions of interest from candidates for the role of interim CAO.

“Candidates should have experience in a senior management role within a local government setting, preferably in the position of CAO, and be readily available to assume the duties of the position as soon as possible,” the posting said.

The posting closes on April 23.

Council hired lawyer Colin Stewart to help with the search. It's unclear how much the process will cost or if a budget was set. In 2017, the City paid Stewart's firm a little more than $187,000 for legal services.

"He's our corporate counsel. He's been involved in guiding us all the way along," mayor Bill McKay said. "Council felt it was appropriate almost to keep a hands-off approach at this point to allow him to do his work and conduct the search. He is well connected in the municipal governance area and he's got a lot of contacts we wouldn't have."

The move opens the door for taxpayers to possibly pay two CAOs at the same time.

Tracy Samra remains on paid leave follwing her Jan. 31 arrest for allegedly uttering threats at City Hall. Samra earned more than $46,000 to date while on leave, based on 2016 City financial statements. Council is still awaiting the findings of an independent investigation into the incident.

The Crown applied for a peace bond against Samra but the case has been adjourned twice, with a first appearance now scheduled for May 1.

"We have to go through proper due process with the investigation being conducted by the City. In the meantime, we have to get our work done. So it was the decision of Council to take this interim step. It may not be for a long period, at this point we're not sure what the duration would be for an interim officer," McKay said.

NanaimoNewsNOW asked McKay if he felt it would be challenging to find a qualified candidate given the recent history of Council and the City.

"I know in the municipal world the City of Nanaimo is well-known. However, there are competent managers with a tremendous amount of experience that believe they can help out in a variety of different environments and conditions. I believe experienced people will come forward."


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On Twitter: @domabassi

— Note to readers. This is an updated story. Adds comments from Bill McKay.

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