Changing Hats, Staying Calm, Bringing Focus

Town Hall
Written by Skid Crease

The idea for this series came about as the result of a simple question by one of Skid Crease’s Bolton neighbours.
“I mean, what do these people on the Town staff really do?” he had inquired. So Skid decided to ask them. Here is the third in this series of interviews with the people who really run the Town of Caledon.

Understanding Town of Caledon Management

Peggy Tollett, General Manager of Community Services

Peggy Tollett

One of the first things that Caledon CAO Mike Galloway told me when I interviewed him before the 2017 summer recess, was that he was fortunate to have five very talented Department Heads working with him to make sure the Town’s goals were met.

One of those very talented people is Peggy Tollett, the General Manager of Community Services. Peggy brought her financial acumen to Caledon from Guelph, first serving as our Deputy Treasurer and then becoming the Treasurer of the Town of Caledon in July, 2014. One year later, Peggy moved into her current role in Community Services.

This Department is one of Caledon’s most complex. Community Services includes Building and Support Services, Planning and Development, Policy and Sustainability, Parks and Recreation, Caledon Fire and Emergency Services, and manages the Official Plan and Zoning by-Laws. And, like Mike Galloway, Peggy credits the success of her Department to the skills and expertise of her team: “I have excellent managers in each section.”

With a Department this diverse, it takes a manager who can change hats quickly and stay calm at the same time. Peggy certainly brings that focus to the department with an ability to listen to the many sides of every story and work towards positive consensus.

She believes one of her critical roles is to help the public understand that the red tape is there for a reason and to explain clearly the process by which decisions are made. When dealing with big capital projects, Zoning By-Laws and Official Plan Reviews it can become an overwhelming quagmire – Peggy’s goal: keep it simple and tell the story so that people who are not immersed in those fields can understand the process.

Another one of her goals is to manage the succession planning in her department. This involves the training of new staff and practices that ensure staff development is ongoing so that if a key member of the team moves on, there is someone ready to fill the gap. This is the kind of long range planning that is needed when huge projects like the new Fire Hall, Southfields Community Centre, and Mayfield Phase Two development are in the works.

Peggy considers some of those projects highlights of her time in Community Services. The Southfields Community Centre is an example of the success of nurturing community partners towards successful public-private partnerships. Another highlight is that all of the appeals for the Mayfield Phase Two have been settled allow development to proceed. Proof positive of Peggy and her team’s ability to understand issues and work towards positive problem solving.

Not ones to rest on their laurels, the Community Services team is already looking ahead to the Official Plan Review, the Business Practices Review, and a study of how planning works, gets implemented, and is tracked. As well, over the next ten years of capital expenditures for recreation, the department is looking at the Caledon Community Centre, Mayfield West Phase Two, and the Mayfield Recreation Complex.

Fortunately, Peggy is not a micro-manager. She feels that she is there to support her team and has great pride in their abilities. “My managers are all experts in their fields.” Spoken like the coach of a winning team.

As author Paul Hawken once wrote, “Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solution so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.” That is what Peggy Tollett brings to the Town of Caledon.

About the author

Skid Crease

Skid is an internationally respected, award winning educator, author, keynote speaker & storyteller. An environmental & outdoor education specialist. Accredited member Canadian Association of Journalists. “Always leave your campsite cleaner than you found it.”