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Vancouver’s HR manager latest to quit

July 29th, 2009 · 30 Comments

Well, all I can say is Yikes. One more city manager bails, Kevin Ramsay, the recently hired head of HR. He’d replaced Mike Zora, who had become the object of union unhappiness, and from what I had heard, was doing a good job and managing to calm things down a little. But not any more.

Here’s the memo from city hall.

From: Ballem, Penny
To: Corporate Management Team (COV) – DL; Au, Wendy; Coulson, Marg; MacKenzie, Janice; Kay, Monica; Hui, Tony; Aujla, Bill; Anton, Suzanne; Cadman, David; Chow, George; Deal, Heather; Jang, Kerry; Louie, Raymond; Meggs, Geoff; Reimer, Andrea; Robertson, Gregor; Stevenson, Tim; Woodsworth, Ellen
Cc: Magee, Michael; Dobrinskaya, Maria; Quinlan, Kevin; CMT Admin Assts – DL; Lee, Daisy; Weidema, Michelle
Sent: Wed Jul 29 14:37:11 2009
Subject: Kevin Ramsay Resignation

Dear all,

With mixed emotions I am pleased to announce that Kevin Ramsay, the General Manager of Human Resource Services, has accepted a position as the Chief Administrative Officer for the District of Squamish.

As Kevin and I discussed through the selection process, this is a tremendous opportunity for him to move up the ladder of local government.  Kevin has worked with the City of Vancouver for the past 15 years and provided exceptional leadership in his role as HR General Manager.

Kevin’s last day with the City is September 11th. I hope you will all join me in wishing him the best of success in his new career. Kevin and I will sort out the interim plan for HR over the coming weeks.

Penny Ballem
City Manager
City of Vancouver

Categories: Uncategorized

  • gmgw

    I like Ballem’s perhaps ingenuous use of the phrase “mixed emotions”. It’s tempting to play with possible interpretations. One can’t help wondering exactly *what* emotions she’s referring to, and in what proportion… OTOH, her primary emotional reponse may quite likely have been simply a heartfelt “Oh f*** ing hell, not *another* one…!”

  • Mary

    I’d like to know how you claim to have mixed emotions but are pleased to announce something.

    Maybe she just needs an editor… e.g. “it is with mixed emotons that I announce…”

    but the real question is: “why would somebody at his level, with a history of such “exceptional leadership” leave the CoV for Squamish when there is still a deputy city manager position open?” I’d say his exceptional leadership ran smack into her management style.

  • Lots of people are leaving Vancouver for Squamish. It’s turning into a great town for folks who enjoy the outdoor lifestyle, don’t want the Whistler attitude, and don’t need the hassles of the Big Smoke.

  • spartikus

    I’m sure it’s all a calumny and Kevin Ramsay was the greatest HR director since St. Paul, but so far the manager quitting/time ratio is still in line with past governments.

    Wasn’t a fly on the wall for this, so…I reserve judgment…until juicier details emerge. 🙂

    Squamish is a fine town, but to be frank I just don’t have the energy for it’s fast-paced lifestyle anymore. Vancouver may be Hollywood North. Squamish? Burning Man North…..

  • “Burning Man North…..”


  • Frothingham

    What is Burning Man?:

    “You belong here and you participate. You’re not the weirdest kid in the classroom — there’s always somebody there who’s thought up something you never even considered. You’re there to breathe art. Imagine an ice sculpture emitting glacial music — in the desert. Imagine the man, greeting you, neon and benevolence, watching over the community. You’re here to build a community that needs you and relies on you.” …

    gawd. save me from such drivel.

    Squamish? …aint that place where they are about to erect great big honking Neon Signs to the God Money$

  • gmgw

    “Squamish? …aint that place where they are about to erect great big honking Neon Signs to the God Money$”

    Not to mention a massive new ski resort and residential development on Brohm Ridge, which, if it goes forward as proposed, will increase the town’s population by more than 30% and, it’s hoped, at last present a serious rivalry to Whistler. Squamish may not have pulled even with Whistler yet, but it’s not for lack of trying. Trying to portray Squamish as some kind of laid-back, closer-to-nature version of Whistler is naive in the extreme.

    An alternative to the Big Smoke? Maybe more so now that the Woodfibre pulp mill is finally closed (Port Mellon, of course, is still going strong). When the wind was from the south, Squamish was as smoky as it gets. Not to mention being just up the road from one of the most seriously contaminated mine sites in North America– Britannia Beach.

    You want laid-back? I have a close friend who grew up in Squamish in the Fifties, before the highway was built (I was a late arrival; never saw the place until about 1963). Her father worked for the PGE (BCR). She can remember horses and bears wandering about the streets, plank sidewalks on what passed for the main streets “downtown”, and many of the houses (including hers) sitting on lots of an acre or more in size. But that Squamish began to vanish half a century ago. Now it’s long been the echo to Whistler’s unending boom. Squamish still gazes to the north, forever envious.

  • Well, there’s folks in Squamish that aren’t keen on rampant development, so I think it’s a bit erroneous to paint the entire town with the same brush.

    You say the locals are envious of Whistler. I’d say my experience is exactly the opposite. Most of the folks I know who have moved there recently are capable of figuring out there’s a downside to being a total resort town and are eager to see their community grow in a sustainable fashion as much as possible.

    And Frothing-man, an opinion based upon a cursory Google search? Too funny.

    How terrible some people might try to generate a little goodwill amongst men! Drivel indeed.

    I hope you fellers have fresh onions tied to your belts! 🙂

  • So more and more gossip: the specter of another . . .errrrr . . . high-level bail-out!

    As for the current gossip stream on the edibility of Squamish . . . as only a drive-thru lookie-loo, I am under whelmed.

    What is human resources anyway?

    Is Mr. What’s-‘is-name about to transmogs from HR to big-shit in little shit . . . ummm . . . so what?

    Is he about more money, more power or better life style?

    If Dr. Penny, of Hippo oath remember, took the welfare of the city to heart she would seriously take this opportunity to do natural downsize big time . . .

  • cold water

    So much rampant speculation and outright drivel. Why not ask the guy himself. Could it be he saw the opportunity to be a city manager and to put his vision into action. Congratulations are in order. If I was in his place I would have leaped at the opportunity too.

  • Frothingham

    “Frothing-man “…. Cute 😉

    and re:
    “goodwill amongst men! Drivel indeed.”

    All of these new-age schisms give me the creeps. From the hippies on down… crap-ola.

    In keeping withe the theme of FranBu’s EU sojourn, notice that none of these “movements” pap ever emanates from the grand culture of Europa.

    “I hope you fellers have fresh onions tied to your belts! 😉 ”

    Keep ’em down my pants. 😉

  • Yes oh F($#*@*)g yes oh yes . . .

    Did I ever thinq, sitting in absolute awe, of my 512, external DD and Kermit, that it would come to this?

    Did you madam FranBu, sitting next to my daughter during SFU communics. ever thinq it would come to this?

    Did we ever thinq such a magnificent invention from the master Alan Mathison Turing OBE FRS would devolve to such . . . errrrrr . . .

    From paranoia BB bikes to 2010 paranoia anger to . . .

    . . . indeed drivel and drivel . . .

  • “In keeping withe the theme of FranBu’s EU sojourn, notice that none of these “movements” pap ever emanates from the grand culture of Europa.”

    From the wiki entry on Burning Man and its earliest incarnations:

    “Evans conceived it as a dadaist event with temporary sculpture to be burned and situationist performance art.”

    So, there’s a definite Euro link IMO.

  • “Burning man!” What on earth does this have to do with some poor sod quitting C of V?

    The Praetorian guard is way off topic . . . where’s the Gaulieter now we need her . . .

    PS My daughter soon found gainful employment . . .

  • Frothingham

    “Burning man!” What on earth does this have to do with some poor sod quitting C of V?

    Well for one Penny Burned him and he left town to find peace and happiness in the new-age Capital of Lotus Land. Squamish: home of the Giant Neon Sign.

    And secondly it’s so damn hot we are all- women and men- about to ignite.

    Peace and Love and Back to the Land you’all

  • Clearly Froth you have never been to Burning Man . . . COOL . . . very cool as cool as Haight-Ashbury 1968

  • Frothingham

    “very cool as cool as Haight-Ashbury 1968′ I rest my case. I was in SF in 1968. Freaks the bunch of them. And where are they now. in some acid fueled memory bank.

  • We were there Mum, Dad and the four kids among the “freaks” and it has been family joke ever since . . .

    I don’t know where they are now . . . except for one who is not in an “acid fueled memory bank.”

    Indeed he’s as buttoned down, corporate as you will ever see and that says “integrity lapse” big time . . .

  • Frothingham

    glad you made it out alive 😉

  • Frances Bula

    And I am glad to see what a lively discussion we are having about labour relations at the City of V. Next up, the Merritt Mountain Music Festival.

  • Thanqxz Mom . . .

  • gmgw

    Time to start handing out a few detentions, Frances. Too bad corporal punishment was banned, huh?

  • Just Plain Sad

    What is happening at City Hall??? This is the FIFTH senior manager to leave Vancouver since the new government took power.

    In case people have lost track of the body count, it looks like this:

    – Judy Rogers, City Manager – GONE
    – Jody Andrews, Deputy City Manager – GONE
    – Dave Rudberg, General Manager of Olympic Operations – GONE
    – James Ridge, Deputy City Manager – GONE
    – Kevin Ramsay, General Manager of Human Resources – GONE

    This isn’t a murder mystery anymore, its a serial killing. In case you’re thinking ‘good, this is a case of gettting rid of the dead wood’, think again. Four of these five top managers in the City were in their positions for less than two years before the new regime took over. At least one, and probably two, were in their forties. Mr. Ramsay was tough on issues, but fair. He genuinely cared about this City and the people who chose to dedicate their careers to public service here. Those who squared off against him knew what to expect: he always reflected the interests of the taxpayer.

    Up until last November, Vancouver was one of the best run cities on the planet. It has been ranked one of the most liveable cities on the global stage again and again. Top politicians and private and public sector executives from around the globe came here regularly to learn from Vancouver’s top team.

    This carnage and bleeding out of the top talent at City Hall is beyond just plain said for Vancouver taxpayers. Where is the continuity of leadership? Where is the staff morale? What can it possibly feel like to work there now? Duck and cover. Keep a low profile. Stay out of the gun sites.

    How much is Vancouver having to shell out for executive temination packages? For those who don’t know, Vancouver has a massive unfunded liability in terms of staff who have worked too hard to take their time off. This time off accrues year after year and must be paid out by law when an employee’s employment terminates. Now, this rapid rate of senior executive turnover turns unfunded liability into a cash flow problem, at a time when the new regime is making all sorts of noise about pinching pennies (sorry, no pun intended Ms. Ballem). Watch for the numbers next spring when the Courier does its annual salary report on City Hall. But add to that the costs of at least national recruitment for these executive positions. And program and customer service slippage. And international reputation damage. Will Vancouver continue to be one of the top empoyers in the country? Lets wait and see. Wouldn’t look too attractive to me if I were a young professional looking to start a career in public service.

    This is a needless tragedy that is degrading Vancouver’s public service to an all-time low, and just doesn’t seem to be ending. Good luck to us all, and hang on to your cheque books.

  • Just Plain Sad

    With apologies to Mr. Ray Holdgate, Vancouver’s Fire Chief, the senior manager body count is SIX, not five.

  • gmgw

    Dear Mr. Just Plain Sad,
    Sorry, but this is I think you want You’ll find them just down the hall: Second stall from the left, men’s washroom.

  • FBT

    I wonder if Ms. Bula of as this gmgw points out, would like to simply ask that anyone with an opposing view to the leftist wingnuts that comment here regularly would kindly and respectfully stop posting any comments on her site so it can be seen for what it truly is becoming?

  • FBT

    Because of them…….

  • Frances Bula

    Actually, this site has always been open to wingnuts from all sides, along with moderates on both sides and quasi-revolutionaries from both sides, and I hope all will continue to comment here.

    There’s nothing I find sadder and more disturbing than blogs that do nothing but promote conversations among the entirely like-minded. There are too many of those out there, promoting a world in which groups whip themselves into a frenzy of angry at “the evil others” and a sense of self-righteousness about their own opinions.

    And, just to add to the debate, I do not find Just Plain Sad’s comments that outrageous. I have been hearing for at least three years now that Vancouver city hall has become a difficult place to recruit for because of the turmoil. It started in the last regime and, in spite of hopes that it would end with the new regime, it is continuing.

    The loss of new, young, good people; the hiring freeze that has added to that loss of young people; the core review; and the sense of the ship being adrift are all factors.

  • FBT


    I appreciate your blog as do many other people. My comments were not directed to you, but to those that lately want you to start filtering comments based on opposing view points.

    What I find most disturbing are those that feel the need to tell others where they should go (as above) and those that post comments asking you to moderate your blog because of something they don’t like.

    It’s your blog and I suspect if you have a problem with certain comments or people, you’ll email them directly or merely delete their post. There is simply no need for certain people here to call for mommy. The grown-ups here are not behaving like grown-ups lately.

    Another behaviour that starts in childhood is the establishment of cliques. What I see when I read your comment section is that most who comment here are of similar opinion, except the occasional opposing viewpoint. There used to be healthy debate here, lately I just see cheerleaders.

    One could ascertain that that means these people represent the opinion of the majority, however I highly doubt this. It is more likely a hijacking of your blog by supporters of a certain mindset, with intent to try and control the message in social media circles.

    This is plainly obvious whenever there is a post on the Burrard Bridge. This is not limited to just your blog, but to the realm of Vancouver media in and out of the blogosphere.

    It is the very same people who post ‘everywhere’ spreading their good word like a bunch of JW’s going door to door in the neighbourhood.

    Give credit where credit is due, they do a good job of spreading their “good” word, but you should at least be able to see it for what it is and what your blog is becoming because of them.

    You may welcome view points from both sides of the fence Frances, but as the time approaches where those who comment here are all of the same opinion, then you have become to the right of center what citycaucus is to the left of center.

    Good day Frances. Time to go join my friends and brothers at the games today.

  • oh PLEASE

    or maybe he left because the moment Penny stepped into office and started treating everyone like they were all a bunch of pieces of shit, good people like Kevin it was time to move on. He was forced out just like all the other good people that have helped make Vancouver such a wonderful city that have left since Penny arrived. When is the general public going to wake up and see what is really happening here?