Turner Valley’s CAO leaving his post
Government: Barry Williamson retiring after 13 years with council, administration
Wednesday, Dec 06, 2017 06:00 am
A 65-year-old Turner Valley man who’s served in some important roles in the community over the years is stepping down from the Town’s top administrative position.
Last week, Barry Williamson announced he’s retiring as Turner Valley’s chief administrative officer (CAO). His last day on the job will be Jan. 5.
“I’ve really enjoyed the learning experience,” he said. “We’ve got a really good group here. I think we’ve made a lot of really positive progress.”
Williamson was first elected to town council in 2004 and served three terms before he applied for and was hired as the CAO for the Town in 2014.
While on council, Williamson had distributed his book Small Town Politics – An Elected Official’s Companion throughout the Foothills during the 2013 election to assist those looking to run in the election. His book provides insight on topics like legislation, municipal and inter-municipal relations, public engagement, capital project and economic development.
It was also during his time on council that Williamson retired from his job as global aviation manager for Shell Canada.
“It is effectively my second retirement,” he said of last week’s announcement. “I retired from Shell when I was 55. I was an elected official at the time.”
Williamson said his goal was to retire from the CAO position at the age of 65 and enjoy a retirement of traveling and spending time with family.
“I want to travel a bit more and get some genuine R & R,” he said.
During his time as CAO, Williamson guided Turner Valley through the aftermath of the 2013 flood, established a municipal safety program that resulted in Turner Valley achieving its Certificate of Recognition, chaired the Calgary Regional Partnership and oversaw the establishment and management of the Sheep River Regional Utility Corporation (SRRUC) as acting CAO.
“It’s been a big demand on my time,” Williamson said of the latter position. “It’s still a work in progress, but a lot of the important work has been done. I feel quite well about where we have gotten.”
Williamson said there’s advantages to transitioning from an elected official to the Town’s CAO position.
“You can relate to council and the issues they have sitting on the CAO side,” he said. “I know what they are thinking and I can understand what it is they are looking for.”
Williamson said he took on the job willing to learn and grow, and he feels like he created a good base for the Town during that time.
“They are going to inherit a pretty good deck of cards to move on from,” he said. “We’ve got an organization that has pulled together and works as a team.”
Turner Valley Mayor Gary Rowntree said Williamson’s outstanding leadership and extensive municipal governance knowledge are highly valued and will be missed.
“His unwavering commitment to the community and the organization is deeply appreciated,” he said. “I would like to express our best wishes to Barry Williamson in his retirement and sincerely thank him for his dedicated service to the residents, staff and council as our CAO.”
Former mayor Kelly Tuck, who has worked with Williamson since 2010 when they were both elected on council, said he brought a great balance to the council table as an elected official.
“He would make you think twice before you do anything, which we always appreciated,” she said. “You always need to have someone on the opposite side. He was always the devil’s advocate.”
Tuck said his diligence and thoughtfulness carried on when he moved forward as the Town’s CAO.
“He takes the time for consideration before making decisions,” she said. “When Barry was making any decisions they were always thoughtful and for the best interest for the town as a whole.”
Tuck said she noticed some differences when Williamson served as CAO, including improving morale among the staff.
“He worked very hard and close with all of the staff and just trying to build that real good team,” she said. “He is definitely a caring, compassionate man. If anything came up they felt comfortable speaking with him. He definitely built trust with his staff and there was a friendship there, too.”
Tuck said she is sad to see Williamson go, but she wishes him the best.
“Congratulations to him and his family,” she said. “He is doing exactly what he wants to do. Barry should be very proud of the financial stability he left this town in.”