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No-one named “director of planning” in new Vancouver re-org

May 10th, 2012 · 16 Comments

This out in the last few days from City of Vancouver general manager Penny Ballem. Your thoughts welcome on what this means, especially you, Brent Toderian. This follows on rumblings I’ve been hearing from here and there in the city about the higher-ups pondering not having a director, but a cluster of people heading up the planning function, similar to the five-person crew that ran the department shortly after Tom Fletcher left. (Eventually, it ended up being Larry Beasley and Ann McAfee that co-ran the department, with Larry handling the downtown and Ann managing planning activities in the rest of the city.)

To all City Staff,

I wanted to write to you to announce progress on some organizational changes.  As you know, in January 2012 David McLellan joined the City Manager’s Office as the Deputy City Manager responsible for Housing and Public Amenities.

Since David’s transition to his new role, Brenda Prosken has served as the acting General Manager, CSG and has done a great job moving the complex agendas of this portfolio in support of both David and I and Council. Over the last 4 months I have had a chance to better understand the pressures on CSG from the perspective of Council business (they currently account for about 80% of reports to Council) and their key role in many of the strategic issues in the city on the planning, development services and the broad social policy front.  In addition, on a day-to-day basis, CSG is responsible for issuing the majority of the City’s permits and licences, a business that represents our primary source of non-tax revenue. Finally, under the VSR we are undertaking one of the most complex and significant projects in the city (the Permits and Licenses Project) which will drive business transformation in Planning and Development Services and other related areas in the city.

Given the volume, complexity and strategic importance of the work of the CSG portfolio, and after considerable discussion with other members of CMT,  I have decided to reconfigure the existing CSG portfolio into two separate portfolios which will encompass the following activities:
1.    Planning and Development Services
2.    Housing, Culture, Social Development and Licenses and Inspections.

Each unit will be led by a General Manager focused on the range of priorities within their respective sphere of responsibility.

I am delighted to announce that Brenda Prosken has accepted the General Manager appointment for the portfolio encompassing Housing, Culture, Social Development and Licenses and Inspections. Brenda first joined the City family when she started at the Vancouver Public Library in 2006 as the Director, Human Resources, and, in 2008, was promoted to Deputy General Manager, CSG. Brenda has built relationships across our organization and has played a strategic role in integrating the work of many partners in the city in the area of housing, homelessness, social inclusion, bylaw enforcement,  local area planning and others. She is a great team member and in her acting GM role over the last few years has clearly earned the respect of CMT colleagues.

The General Manager, Planning and Development will hold the responsibilities of Director of Planning as set out in the Vancouver Charter. A major focus will be leading the business transformation in this important portfolio and  building the strategic relationships internal and external to the organization to ensure that our Planning and Development Services activities are responsive to the needs of the public, our business partners and the policy goals of the rest of the organization.

Within the coming days, we will begin the recruitment process to fill the General Manager, Planning and Development role.  We will be posting this opportunity internally as well as advertising external nationally and internationally.

Please join me in congratulating Brenda on her appointment.  And I thank her for her ongoing work leading the 2 portfolios, pending the recruitment of a General Manager, Planning and Development.

There are a number of details yet to be determined regarding the delineation of specific responsibilities between the two new General Manager roles.  As those matters are resolved over the coming weeks, we will confirm the particulars for any of you who may be impacted.

Finally, to all of our employees working in Community Services, thank you for your continued effort and commitment to serving our public.  I trust the rationale for the structural changes described above resonates with you and I appreciate your support as we move forward with implementation.

Penny Ballem
City Manager


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