Labrador City has seen many changes over the years, but the municipality is experiencing more than ever.
Key positions at the council table have opened and seats have been switched at an uncommon rate, and
Labrador City mayor Karen Oldford said it’s unusual times.
“Other people who have been around the council table longer than me have not seen this much turnover. There have been by-elections in the past, and that’s not uncommon. But the mount of turnover we’ve had in this council is the first it’s been seen.”
The former Deputy Mayor was replaced by Councillor Peter Reccord after Oldford took the role of mayor this summer. Reccord’s new position left a council chair open for next month’s by-election, but an extra seat opening has extended the date to Sept. 25 after councilor Debbie Samson announced her resignation at last week’s council meeting.
Oldford said the by-election isn’t uncommon for a municipality, and the change of seats goes along with the change in the town.
“When you run for election for council you run with a four year commitment, but you can’t always plan ahead four years in today’s environment. That’s the reality.”
Oldford said change is inevitable with every company or organization.
“It’s the same thing with our employees; they’re committed, but things change in everybody’s life. So we’re seeing changes, but not all change is bad. It’s how you manage it.”
The position of town manager has also recently opened with the departure of Jeff Boland, who was appointed in early 2009.
Whoever takes the role permanently will have a tough act to follow, Oldford said. “Jeff is a phenomenal individual and employee. There’s no doubt that anyone filling in for him is going to have big shoes to fill. Whoever steps into these very busy and challenging roles will have a learning curve.”
The town manager is an all-encompassing role with the day to day management of department heads and staff and makes contacts on a daily basis with the contract companies doing work on the town’s behalf. The town manager will also put together and review proposals on work that needs to be done, and suggests to council on how it works.
Town clerk Diane Gear is currently filling the role.
“We’re actively recruiting some more staff to support the role, recognizing that Diane herself only has 3-5 years left until retirement,” Oldford said. “So we’re trying to take this time to plan for the future and hire some new staff that will be there for the long term.”
Oldford doesn’t expect to have a problem filling the roles.
“It’s an attractive position for a lot of people who want to be a part of the community and the decision making part of it, and have a stable employer. The employment contracts for our staff are every bit as good as the iron ore companies in many aspects.”
Oldford said she’s hopeful for any newcomers and trusts the current staff to be a support.
“We’re lucky that we’ll have new people in that are able to take advantage of having senior staff around to learn from. And depending on the applicants we may have some very seasoned individuals that can bring some new ideas.”