Erin CAO Nathan Hyde leaving for Town of Caledon

Hyde starting as Caledon CAO on Aug. 8

ERIN – CAO Nathan Hyde is leaving his post as the top staff member in Erin to be CAO of the Town of Caledon.

Erin Mayor Michael Dehn confirmed Hyde’s imminent departure by phone to an Advertiser reporter late in the afternoon on Aug. 2.

Reading from a statement prepared by the town’s communication team, Dehn said the town is “saddened by his departure to pursue another employment opportunity.”

The prepared statement, appearing on the town’s website and attributed to Dehn, refers to Hyde as “an amazing CAO” with a “strong record of success.”

“He leaves a legacy of positive and transformational change that will carry Erin into the future and a solid record of fiscal accountability,” Dehn said, reading from the statement.

The statement also notes Hyde will provide “continued support during the transition period.”

Hyde will begin his new position as CAO for Caledon on Aug. 8.

Dehn said he learned of the news when Hyde met with him on the morning of Aug. 2.

Nathan Hyde

According to Erin spokesperson Lavina Dixit, Hyde gave notice of his decision to town clerk Lisa Campion “two weeks ago.”

Speaking by phone late Wednesday last week, Dixit was uncertain of an exact date.

Caledon Mayor Annette Groves welcomed Hyde in a press release published to the town’s website at 2:42pm on Aug. 2.

“I am pleased to welcome Nathan to the Town of Caledon,” Groves states in the release.

“He brings over 20 years of public sector leadership experience within some of Canada’s largest and fastest growing municipalities.”

The release continues, noting Hyde’s experience as Chief of Staff to the Chair in Peel Region, chair of the Central Lake Ontario Source Protection Committee and Erin’s CAO.

Hyde’s tenure in Erin was not without controversy however, as many town staff members were either fired or quit shortly after he was hired in 2017.

Under his leadership, the town spent two years fighting Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from the Advertiser seeking the total amount of severance payments provided to some of those employees.

In 2020, the Town of Erin was named the most secretive municipality in Canada by four journalism organizations, largely for its efforts to deny those FOI requests.

The Caledon press release also notes Hyde’s education, along with his experience on the Headwaters Health Care Centre board, Dufferin Board of Trade, the Public Affairs Association of Canada and the Ontario Professional Planners Institute.

In an email sent to staff by Groves on the afternoon of Aug. 2, and obtained by the Advertiser, the mayor wrote that “effective immediately” Carey Herd is no longer Caledon’s CAO. No additional detail was given and the mayor wished Herd well.

A document published to Caledon’s website titled “Mayoral Decision 2023-2” states that Groves terminated Herd’s employment, superseded the town’s hiring policies, and appointed Hyde to the role.

The actions are part of new “strong mayor” powers bestowed upon select municipal governments by Premier Doug Ford’s administration.

The news travelled fast. Dehn told the Advertiser last week that CAOs from other municipalities had already expressed interest in Erin.

Town spokesperson Lavina Dixit said fire chief Jim Sawkins will be “acting” as the town’s top staffer “for the moment.”

Reached by phone on the night of Aug. 2, Sawkins said he had not been named acting CAO and that council would need to make that call.

The Advertiser sought clarity from Dixit who wrote in an email: “The current CAO bylaw has to be repealed before a new one can be passed.”

That’s expected to happen at the town’s next council meeting, on Aug. 17.

Dehn said Erin is an “attractive community that will attract some good prospects.”

“Council will work to find a suitable replacement for Mr. Hyde,” the mayor said.

*Correction – Aug. 3: This article has been corrected from an earlier version to reflect that Erin CAO Nathan Hyde met Erin Mayor Michael Dehn in person on the morning of Aug. 2. Because of incorrect information provided to the Advertiser, an earlier version stated a conversation had happened by phone.