Conservation authorities consider shared CAO/GM

By Mike Robinson

KENILWORTH – After the recent resignation of the Grey Sauble Conservation (GSCA) CAO and the impending retirement of the Saugeen Valley Conservation (SVCA) general manager, the respective conservation authority boards, exercising due diligence, gave direction to their executive committees to examine the concept of a shared CAO/GM position.

A recent media release on behalf of both conservation authorities noted committees met to explore the potential of having the right individual fill this position to provide leadership in aligning SVCA and GSCA operations more closely. 

Anticipated benefits could include improved service levels, shared best practices, maintenance and improvement of relationships with watershed municipal partners, and potential creation of more career opportunities for staff.

The next step, subject to the approval of both boards, is a meeting with CA directors and staff, both county CAOs and director of human resources for a more fulsome discussion of the feasibility of a shared CAO/GM and operations alignment.

On Sept. 9 Wellington North council commented on the matter.

Councillor Steve McCabe said this is interesting in light of the provincial push to find efficiencies at the conservation levels. He queried whether this might lead to the eventual amalgamation of the two conservation authorities. He added he’ll find out how well the shared position is recieved following a meeting set for Sept. 17.

“But for the time being, if we can share one general manager, it will make things more efficient and create some cost savings.”

Mayor Andy Lennox noted Wellington North deals with three different conservation authorities.

“Each one is a little different. Some make our lives easier, some not so easy.”

Lennox said that for some conservation authorities across the province, the government has realized “not all are delivering just their core services.”

Lennox saw the provincial move as working to regain that focus.

He noted comments made at the recent AMO conference by the Ministry of Environment suggested conservation authorities had overstepped their bounds.

“… it may not be totally applicable to us, but there are places in the province.”

He believed municipalities should be able to endorse what the conservation authorities are doing.

“I think there will be a movement provincially that we as municipalities will have a chance to weigh in on what services are being delivered and what we are prepared to fund.”

He also agreed “not all conservation authorities are created equal and some have a lot more resources.”