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Two more senior staff on their way

May 5th, 2010 · 44 Comments

I have to mark the passing at city hall of two women who went beyond the call of duty in serving the city. One is Ronda Howard, until recently the assistant director of citywide and regional planning.

Although former head city planner Larry Beasley is synonymous with Vancouver, he did his job with people like Ronda (she and Larry worked on the downtown plan for Vancouver back in the 1980s that created the heavily residential neighbourhoods we have there today). It was also her part of the department that called a halt to the residential boom in the commercial areas in 2004.

In her latest years at the hall, she dedicated a huge amount of time to the Metro Jobs study, figuring out who works in which parts of Vancouver’s various downtowns. I’ll miss the sessions I had with her and her meticulous slides detailing exactly how our downtown economy works.

Ronda’s already had her retirement party, if I heard correctly, but another one coming up — and this one was quite a shock to me — is Barb Windsor, the city’s chief licence inspector. Barb is the person who, in the nicest possible Emily Post but steely firm kind of way, told slum landlords they had to fix up their properties, dealt with the city’s most notorious hoarders, adjudicated the issues of porn theatres, and rode herd on the restaurants, pool halls and convenience stores doubling as drug supermarkets. Just listening to her calm voice explain some miscreant’s infractions used to make my whole day feel orderly.

I had thought Barb was going to be around for a while after being made Chief Licence Inspector only a few years ago. I’m surprised, surprised, surprised. Whether this has anything to do with the current low morale at the hall and the sense that city staff feel like they’re being treated like morons by the new Robertson regime, I have no idea. But some people are interpreting it that way.

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