Frances Bula header image 2

Second deputy city manager resigns

April 28th, 2009 · 22 Comments

This went out at 10:11 today (while the civics panel was on at CKNW with Bill Good — how handy) and has quickly spread all over town. CKNW’s Janet Brown is reporting that Ridge is leaving because of “politicization” at city hall, though no word that Ridge is talking directly to anyone.

Not a total surprise he’s leaving, as it was known he was seeing a headhunter who was aggressively shopping for a job for him. He’s not the only Vancouver staffer visiting headhunters, as we know, but municipal jobs are in short supply these days so the exodus that might have happened a couple of years ago has definitely been slowed by the economy.

From: Ballem, Penny
To: Robertson, Gregor; Anton, Suzanne; Cadman, David; Chow, George; Deal, Heather; Jang, Kerry; Louie, Raymond; Meggs, Geoff; Reimer, Andrea; Stevenson, Tim; Woodsworth, Ellen
Cc: Magee, Michael; Humphrey, Brent; Quinlan, Kevin; Dobrinskaya, Maria; Corporate Management Team (COV) – DL
Sent: Tue Apr 28 10:11:25 2009
Subject: Resignation of Deputy City Manager, James Ridge

Dear Mayor and Council,

I am writing to advise you that James Ridge, Deputy City Manager, has accepted a position as Associate Vice President, Enrollment Services/Registrar at the University of British Columbia.


And this out in the afternoon from UBC

Subject: FW: UBC Media Release 28-April-2009: Career public servant to become UBC’s next Registrar

Career public servant to become UBC’s next Registrar

A career public servant has been appointed Associate Vice President, Enrollment Services/Registrar at the University of British Columbia.

James Ridge, Deputy City Manager at the City of Vancouver, will assume responsibilities for UBC student recruitment, admissions, financial assistance and other operational matters as well as serving as Secretary of the UBC Senate as mandated by the University Act.

“James Ridge brings a wealth of public sector knowledge and senior management experience to the university,” said UBC President Stephen Toope, “and I believe his contributions to enhancing the UBC student experience will be substantial.”

Ridge’s public sector career began in 1982 with an eight-year stint in the Canadian Forces, where he attained the rank of Major. He became director of the Crime Control Commission of Ontario before taking on a series of licensing and planning positions with the City of Toronto, where he played a key role in municipal amalgamation, culminating in 2001 when he became CIO/Director of Information Technology. Prior to joining the City of Vancouver, Ridge was Chief Administrative Officer of the District of North Vancouver.

“His record of achieving outstanding team effectiveness and service is superbly fitted to building on current strengths and acting on the recommendations of Enrollment Services reviews at the Okanagan and Vancouver campuses,” said Brian Sullivan, Vice President, Students, to whom Ridge reports.

“I am delighted for this unexpected opportunity and enthusiastic about doing my part to help UBC achieve its vision, particularly related to student success,” Ridge said. “I know there will be lots to learn and I am grateful to be joining an accomplished team.”
Ridge, who succeeds Brian Silzer, AVP and Registrar since 2002, will assume his duties on June 8.


Categories: Uncategorized

  • alan

    Is it true though, was city hall really depoliticizated? True objectivity is quite rare in the real world.

  • spartikus

    CKNW cited as the source of the “politicization” angle. Funnily enough the story has been removed from CKNW’s website. It must have been up for only 15 minutes.

  • Vision Governs, NPA Uncovers?

    Come, come Frances. You’re beginning to sound like an apologist for the ruling party. Breezily saying you knew he was seeing a headhunter—and then not reporting it? Folks don’t go looking for alternative employment if they are happy in their positions. ESPECIALLY in this economy.

    That he was looking for an exit says much about the antics at City Hall.

    We also have to give props to the boys at citycaucus. They seem to have their feelers in at 12th & Cambie, insofar as staff are concerned.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    If Ridge made any suggestion that it is due to politics: Major scandal for the Mayor and Vision.

    If citycaucus, once again, made something up: Further evidence that they really should shut down because the public has become quite tired of Mikey’s mindless pap and Danny’s slipping, excuse me, spinning his personal opinions into “news” (something he constantly BITCHED about to many an editor, including mine, when he was Chief of Gaffe for the Serpent). When his opinions are worthy of being paid for, he can offer them…or is someone paying him? Hm…who might that be?

  • spartikus

    Politicization may very well be at the heart of the recent resignations /retirements.

    But, personally, I find it hard to believe that career civil service professionals would find it necessary to resign in what is still only a span of a few months. A time frame of a year or so, I could find plausible.

  • rf

    Wow! Gregor’s quotes on this in the Sun are really quite careless. He is basically saying that Ridge (and others) are probably quitting because they are unproductive, can’t handle pressure and (perhaps, my words not his) lazy….

    Mr. Mayor seems to be hiding behind some of the severance agreements that don’t allow the exiting employees to smack him back. Hopefully Ridge does. I don’t see how he could not be offended by Gregor’s quote.

    “Yeah, I do think that has something to do with it. Some of it is my agenda and my desire to get a lot more done at city hall, and some is the pressure of 2010 and the variety of forces that have come at us this year,” he said.

    “It’s a change in how we are doing things here with a real focus on productivity, so there is undoubtedly more pressure this year, and that doesn’t work for everyone.”

  • fbula

    A couple of comments

    To Vision Governs, etc.: I have reported in previous blog posts that people at city hall were looking to leave. I said a month or so ago that I knew of at least four looking to go. (It’s now up to five I know of — well, now that James is gone, back down to four besides him.) Did I do wrong in not putting out the names? I don’t think so. If you do, let me know when you’re thinking of leaving YOUR job and I’ll be happy to put the speculation up on my blog before you’ve managed to land a new position. BTW, I actually had Dave Rudberg’s resignation a day before anyone else.

    Re Alex’s comments about whether someone is paying Daniel Fontaine to do the citycaucus blog: I should point out that both I and Allen Garr, who are still for the moment making a living by actually phoning people up to get information, have asked Daniel whether he is getting paid to do the blog, by Sam’s slush fund or anything. He says that, no, he categorically is not. He’s so adamant I’m sure he’d be happy to let me look at his tax return for 2009 to verify that. Yes, he is putting in a lot of time (20 hours a week, he says) but that is his own time. The only expenses other than that are the small amount it costs to get a domain name — and I know from experience that that doesn’t cost much — and the FOIs, which he has solicited donations for.

    That’s all for the moment.

  • sv

    But Frances who’s paying for the bandwith? I mean with all those pageviews those guys might possibly be broke in no time at all!

  • fbula


    Pay for bandwidth? Don’t think that applies to blogs.

  • SV

    I was kidding.

  • fbula

    Doh. There goes my literal, humourless alter ego.

  • LP

    From a friend in another city, who I was discussing this with:

    unfortunately, management careers that exist within a political environment…be it federal, provincial or municipal…constantly face the threat of closed door discussions that affect the people in these positions and their livelihoods without them ever being involved in the process. (Unnamed city) too, has faced such turmoil on many occasions. I am certainly glad that I am no longer there. We were an organization consisting of approximately 200 senior and middle managers. I recall a period of time following an external audit that was conducted for the sole purpose of commissioning change to the management structure that resulted in 50 managers (that’s 25% of the total) losing their positions. One out of every four managers came to work finding the door to their office locked. For the six month period that this went on, I recall wondering daily on my way to work if the door to my office would be locked upon me arriving at work. I must say that’s not a good feeling when you have the responsibilities of a growing family that is dependant upon your employment.

    If such a process always resulted in the deadwood being removed from a political organization, I wouldn’t complain. Unfortunately, that is almost never the case as I’ve observed it. Many good, hard-working managers lose favour with the organization because of alliances and relationships within political and union ranks that they have no control over whatsoever. All it takes is some big mouth thinking he/she knows it all and running for public office. Take 10 of these, put them in the same room and bring in the managers to try and give them good advice. If they’re not hearing what they want to or they have a hidden agenda….there goes another professional career!

  • OMC

    I think that Ridge’s departure is the city’ loss (and UBC’s gain) but that happens in every organization (although much too often at the city lately). However, Robertson’s comments are inexcusable – a suggestion that his agenda is putting too much pressure on staff is ridiculous. He owes Ridge and all city staff (managers and union) an immediate apology!

    What exactly has he accomplished in the last five months that sets him apart from all the previous administrations?

    If anything, from what I hear, morale is at the lowest it’s been in a long time. And productivity usually is not far behind the morale…

  • Rachel

    Morale is at an all-time low at City Hall. Mayor, Council and the City Manager are doing nothing about it and don’t care either! Quite a few staff are not even excited about the Olympics coming now thanks to this bunch. Staff used to be happy to come to work, work on their projects to improve this City and now what..what is there to be happy about?

  • spartikus

    Morale is at an all-time low at City Hall.

    People keep saying this, but they never say why.

    So I’ll ask: Why? What are they doing that causes morale to be so low?

  • CluckCluck

    Memo to Staff:
    Develop guidelines to accommodate the keeping of chickens on apartment balconies. Ignore the fact this is unreasonable and doomed for failure – highlight positive aspects such as a growing chicken diaper sector and poultry social outings. Avoid economic analysis comparing the cost of a dozen eggs to required budget for livestock, feed, noise complaint administration, cleaning services, avian flu control, and diapers.
    Timeline for policy: 5 days
    Penalty for missing timeline: Public whipping through media, followed by loss of job.
    Penalty for lack of public satisfaction with doomed project: Public whipping through media, followed by loss of job.
    Note: no reduction in departmental morale will be permitted. Any reduction in morale will result in public whipping through media, followed by loss of job.

  • City Hall Insider

    Moral is on the up in the hall. It is a matter of perspective. Ridge was on of Judy’s hires and he saw the writing on the wall.
    We have not seen such change in a very very long time and as I have said before. Long overdue.
    Accountability is something the past administration has refused to address and as such the people making the most noise are the ones used to conducting the orchestra.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    And now we find out that citycaucus frontloaded the story…stop there please, no need to go further.

  • Dave R

    I am a city employee and I am sure a lot more people would leave. Not many san people can work with a city manger who trusts no one, micro manages everything, and a council who believes in its political agenda and is not willing to listen what staff is recommending.


  • spartikus

    Not many san people can work with a city manger who trusts no one, micro manages everything, and a council who believes in its political agenda and is not willing to listen what staff is recommending.

    I reiterate my earlier call for specifics.

  • Dave R

    spartikus , I am a city employee and thats why I can not be specific .

  • spartikus

    How cloak and dagger!

    You know, you could just not leave your name, “Dave R”. And then you could be specific in absolute safety.