Colwood hires interim administrator after top employee turfed

The City of Colwood has hired an interim chief administrator, who will serve until council finds a permanent replacement for its turfed top employee.

Gary Nason, who most recently served as an interim chief administrative officer in Oak Bay, began work Wednesday.

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He has more than 30 years of experience working in local government, including 19 years as chief administrator for Central Saanich. He has also worked with the City of Nanaimo and City of Port Alberni.

“We felt we could hit the ground running with Gary,” Mayor Carol Hamilton said. “Yes, he has to catch up on day-to-day details in Colwood, but in the overall scheme of things, we’re not bringing in someone from way outside the area. His connections are well entrenched.”

Nason’s term is undefined, but Hamilton said council aims to fill the position permanently by this fall. She said Nason will be paid an hourly rate on par with the $157,000 annual salary of the last chief administrator.

Nason replaces James Moller, who came highly recommended from Saskatchewan to serve in the position.

Moller was dismissed without cause in February, 11 months into the job, after he declined to participate in a hearing about his performance.

Colwood’s administration has seen a pattern of high turnover in recent years. Chris Pease retired as chief administrator in 2011, after serving since 2006. Ross McPhee was hired full time in 2011, but left in 2012, on what Hamilton at the time called “amicable terms.” Pease filled in again from 2013 to 2014, until Moller was hired in February 2014.

The question of whether to hire a temporary or permanent administrator was a difficult one for council, Hamilton said. The need for a new administrator came during budget season, she said, and council decided to push through the temporary hiring and spend more time on the matter in coming months.

“We just felt we needed to get some things that were half done finished off, to put us in a better position to move forward.”

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