07-26-2019 - W/WH CAO Appointment
Press Release - July 26, 2019 - W/WH CAO Appointment Mark Phillips has been appointed Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of the new municipality resulting from the consolidation of the Town of Windsor and the Municipality of the District of West Hants. He begins his new job September 16.
Kevin Latimer, Chair of the Coordinating Committee responsible for bringing the two municipalities together, said Mr. Philips, the current CAO of the Town of Kentville, was selected following a national search.
A graduate of Acadia University, Mr. Phillips has been Kentville’s CAO for the last eight years and for the last year has also served as interim Public Works Director for the town. In addition to his kinesiology and sport management degree from Acadia, Mr. Phillips has completed and is engaged in both Provincial and National Advanced Certification in municipal government including Local Authority Administration from Dalhousie and a Masters Certificate in Municipal Leadership affiliated with York University. Mr. Phillips has experience in many aspects of municipal operations including emergency services, planning, parks and recreation, economic development, public infrastructure and strategic planning.
Windsor Mayor Anna Allen and West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian both expressed enthusiasm for the new CAO.
“As Windsor and West Hants come together to move our region towards an exciting future we are confident that our new CAO will help us embrace the possibilities with open minds and hearts” said Windsor Mayor Anna Allen.
Warden Zebian adds “This is a great day for our new municipality. We’ve found a terrific candidate right here in our own backyard. Mark has a track record of successful municipal leadership and I’m confident will help lead us to further growth and prosperity in the region.”
The two municipalities agreed last year to merge and asked the province to pass legislation to facilitate the amalgamation. Mr. Latimer was appointed chair of the Coordinating Committee in December and, since then, the Committee has been meeting regularly to address the key issues that need to be settled before the yet-to-be-named new municipality begins life on April 1, 2020.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” said Mr. Phillips. “The two municipalities took the bold step of creating a new governance structure designed to more effectively deliver services to residents of these municipalities. The communities are far better positioned to succeed within the new regional municipality than they would have been possible had they stayed apart. I’m very excited to participate with the elected officials, staff and the community to leverage the many assets the region has to offer to its current and further residents and businesses.”
Prior to becoming CAO in Kentville, Mr. Phillips was for 12 years Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services in Kentville. 2 He is a member of the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators and member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. He’s an executive member of the Valley Wildcats Hockey Club and a founding member of Devil’s Half Acre Motorcycle Rally
At its April 15th meeting, the Co-ordinating Committee voted to have a mayor, elected at large, and eleven councillors representing the new Regional Municipality. The vote took place after the Governance Review presentation to the Co-ordinating Committee by John Heseltine of Stantec Consulting Ltd.
The Governance Review was conducted in two phases, the first to determine council size and the second to define boundary and polling districts. The decision aligns with input received from residents through community consultation meetings and online and paper surveys along with interview contributions from the councillors and CAO’s of the Municipality of the District of West Hants and the Town of Windsor. The Co-ordinating Committee’s application to the Utility and Review Board for approval of the decision is scheduled to be heard in June 2019.
Co-ordinator Kevin Latimer acknowledged the leadership and thoughtful deliberations of the Committee, Councils, CAO’s and staff in reaching a final decision. He stated that, “a good decision had been reached, one that has been informed by good public engagement and feedback from the entire region and places the best interest of the new Regional Municipality front and center.”
The Co-ordinating Committee also heard from Robert Johnston who will be conducting the search for the new CAO for the new Regional Municipality. The national search will take place over the next eight to ten weeks and will include stakeholder engagement to ensure that the best possible candidates are brought forth for consideration by the Co-ordinating Committee. It is expected that a final offer will be made to the successful candidate in June.
The Co-ordinating Committee approved amendments to its Terms of Reference to ensure that the document remains current, reflects the practices of the Committee and to ensure transparency. The amendments enable the Co-ordinator to enter contracts on behalf of the Committee, acknowledge the new project administrator position, confirm that in-camera minutes are kept and recorded on a private and confidential basis and that approved meeting minutes and agendas are posted to StrongerRegion.ca as soon as possible for information purposes.
The next meeting of the Co-ordinating Committee takes place on May 6 at 6p.m. in the Town of Windsor Chambers.
At its February 25th meeting, the Co-ordinating Committee voted to look at scenarios for nine or 11 districts for the new Regional Municipality. Members of the Co-ordinating Committee accepted the recommendation by consulting company Stantec to look at the two scenarios.
The recommendation comes after approximately 740 residents participated in public meetings across the region, an online survey and paper surveys and is consistent with public input. The majority of participants, 61.5%, indicated their preference for a council size of 10-12 including the mayor, which aligns with the recommendation. The size of the two councils combined is currently 15.
“The recommendation is well supported by the public consultations that were conducted,” said Kevin Latimer, Chair of the Co-ordinating Committee. “Listening to what the public is telling us through these consultations is so important and I’m encouraged with the level of participation and thoughtfulness of responses.”
John Heseltine is the Stantec consultant who conducted the public consultations. He said the online response was among the best he has seen for similar boundary reviews.
Phase Two of the Governance Study will deal with Boundaries and Polling Districts, which is relevant for elections only and does not impact services or taxes.
The Boundary and Polling Districts public consultations will kick off on March 5 with the first of a series of public meetings held at the Three Mile Plains Community Hall at 6 p.m. Four additional meetings will be held throughout the region and an online survey will be available. The details and full schedule for the public meetings can be found on StrongerRegion.ca.
To support this part of the public engagement, maps outlining boundary scenarios will be posted in a number of public locations with paper copies of the survey available at either the West Hants or Windsor municipal offices. Map locations will be posted on StrongerRegion.ca when they are made available.
In July, the Councils of the Municipality of the District of West Hants and the Town of Windsor passed a motion to enter into negotiations with the Province to consolidate the two municipalities through special legislation. Stemming from the discussions that took place over the past two months, the Councils met with the Department of Municipal Affairs on September 24 and determined that, for the betterment and the sustainability of the region, consolidation of the two municipal units is the best way forward.
The Special legislation to consolidate the Municipality of the District of West Hants and the Town of Windsor was brought forward at the Legislature this morning beginning the process of creating a new regional municipality by April 1, 2020. The legislation consists of transitional matters including the appointment of a transition coordinator and the creation of a transition committee who will oversee the process.
Councils of the Municipality and the Town remain adamant that citizen engagement and communication be at the forefront throughout this process and are looking forward to working with the citizens in both municipal units to build a new, stronger regional government.