The City of Port Alberni’s chief administrative officer, Tim Pley, is retiring after 31 years with the city.
Pley was hired by the City of Port Alberni as a firefighter in 1990, progressed through the ranks of the Port Alberni Fire Department, and served for eight years as fire chief prior to assuming the role of CAO in July 2016. He will wrap up his career on Dec. 31, 2021.
The role of CAO as the senior-most municipal employee is to report directly to mayor and council, to lead municipal staff in all aspects of operations, and to ensure that the city’s strategic and operational goals are achieved. Pley said the leap from fire chief to CAO was a big one, but not his first. “Moving from the firetruck to an office (as deputy fire chief) was a broad jump,” he said. “Leaving the firehall to city hall was a span.”
Pley said he feels fortunate to have spent his entire career with the same employer, in the city where he was born and raised. He left for four years, to go to college in Nanaimo and the University of B.C. in Vancouver.
“I’ve had a great career. The city’s been a great employer. I’ve been able to effect policy beyond the community while staying in the community. I didn’t have to go to a larger centre to do that.”
Mayor Sharie Minions, who has worked with Pley at city hall for the past six years as a councillor and then mayor, extended her appreciation to Pley in a press release. “Having the right person in the role of CAO is critical to the success of a council,” said Minions. “Through such an important period of change and transition in our community we have felt fortunate to have Tim in this role and we couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve been able to accomplish together.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to work alongside Tim over the past six years and on behalf of council, we wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”
“From the rewarding time spent contributing to the safety of my hometown while working in the fire department to supporting mayors and councils while they have led transformation and growth within the organization and the community, it has been an honour,” Pley said.
“I am proud of our professional staff team and the trusting and respectful relationship between staff and council.”
Pley said he is leaving the city in a good position. Scott Smith, director of development services, has been the deputy CAO for a while now and he will assume the chief CAO duties while the city undertakes an executive search. Pley said while he will help council start the process, he won’t have a say in who his replacement will be.
Pley said he had been thinking of leaving once the 2022 municipal election is finished, but he had the opportunity to leave now, a year earlier. That will give the new CAO ample time to help guide the city through the process.
“Leaving a bit early is better than leaving a bit late,” he said.
Pley will work up until his retirement. After that he has an opportunity to do some firefighting consulting, joining two former provincial colleagues.
“I’ve always wanted to go do some consulting after I finished work. I won’t be sitting at home wondering what to do,” he said.