The exodus of senior staff from the Town of Caledon does not appear to be slowing. Just Sayin’ Caledon has learned that three more key staff members are parting ways.
Tracy McKenna, the Town’s Chief Human Resources Officer, has given notice her notice and is leaving mid-December.
Patrick Trafford, who became Acting Town Clerk after Laura Hall, Director of Corporate Services and Town Clerk was terminated by CAO Hyde in late August, has resigned effective in December as well.
Matthew Binkle, who became Acting Town Solicitor after Alexis Alyea, Town Solicitor and Manager of Legal & Court Services was terminated by CAO Hyde in September, resigned his position and departed earlier this month.
The three employees are part of a growing list that has some residents very concerned. They fear the destabilizing effects of losing job expertise as well as community and institutional knowledge, especially at this critical time when Caledon is faced with the dissolution of Peel Region. They wonder whether that instability and lack of job security will prompt more departures fuelling the problem further.
The bulk of departures have occurred since Mayor Groves used her Strong Mayor Powers to terminate former CAO Carey Herd in August and replace her with Nathan Hyde who was CAO at Town of Erin.
Within the first few weeks in the CAO role Hyde terminated Laura Hall, Director of Corporate Services and Town Clerk; Antoinette Minichillo, Chief Planner; Alexis Alyea, Town Solicitor and Manager of Legal & Court Services; Jason Thompson, Assistant Chief Building Official; Jessica Stovin, Manager of Recreational Facilities; and Erin Britnell, Director of Corporate Strategy & Innovation.
Between September and November other senior staffers have left of their own accord. Sean Kenney, Senior Planner; Stacey Abbott, Manager of Communications; Andrew Pearce, Commissioner of Engineering, Public Works & Transportation; David Sutton, Commissioner of Finance; Hilary Bryers, Acting Treasurer; and John DeCourcey, who became Acting Director of Municipal Law Enforcement after Mark Sraga left at the end of June.
Sraga tendered his notice shortly after Groves intervened when, in his role as Chief Building Officer and Director of Municipal Law Enforcement, he issued an Order to Comply and a Stop Work Order under the Building Code Act on the owner of the asphalt plant in Bolton.
That action was one of two by Groves that prompted a request for an investigation by the Town’s Integrity Commissioner John Fleming. Fleming concluded that the mayor had interfered with Town by-law investigations and breached Council Code of Conduct.
While the Town utilized words like streamlining and savings in the narrative surrounding the staffers terminated by Hyde some people, such as Ward 1 Councillor Lynn Kiernan, have said they feel that is misleading. Kiernan said “When you factor in severances and potential legal actions, as well as the eventual replacement of such key staff, I don’t see savings. In fact, I see a massive tax hit for the taxpayers.”
Ward 2 Councillor Dave Sheen has been pushing for disclosure of Hyde’s compensation package and the details of his contractual duties and obligations. That information has still not been released.
In addition, Sheen brought a notice of motion forward on October 10th asking that, faced with Peel’s dissolution, “the Council of the Town of Caledon takes the firm position that following the dissolution of Peel Region, Caledon’s current municipal boundaries must remain and shall not be altered in any way.”
That motion was deferred to the November 14th meeting at the request of Groves who called it “premature.” At the November meeting Sheen’s motion was voted down with Groves, and Councillors Russo, Rosa, Maskell and Napoli voting against it.
“Anytime you enter a negotiation you have to know, going in, what you’re willing to negotiate and what you’re not,” says Sheen. ‘All I was looking for was agreement from my Council colleagues that, as a starting point, we were not willing to negotiate any kind of breaking up of the Town of Caledon. I really didn’t expect that to be a difficult bargaining position to take, and yet, my motion failed. Frankly, I was surprised.”
Editor’s note: As well as the senior staffers mentioned in this article Grove’s own Chief of Staff, Nathan Grundy, whom she hired after becoming mayor resigned earlier this month.
Update: JSC has learned that Katelyn Tozer, Manager of Energy and Environment, submitted her resignation today, November 26th.