Vancouver’s outgoing city administrator reflects on 11 years in the city hall and recommends the city council to be careful not to burn themselves or the city staff

Instead, quitting his job during the COVID-19 era meant a series of video conferences with various departments in the city of Vancouver over the past week, he said, an opportunity to “remember things we worked on together, and to some of the successes and failures ”

Johnston also asked everyone for book recommendations, as he should soon have a lot more time. After 11 years in the city government, five of them in the top position, Jan was 4 will be his last day

City Manager is a demanding job, much like a chief administrative officer overseeing an organization with a $ 6 billion operating budget and more than 7000 employees Johnston called it his “dream job” “

Johnston joined the city of Vancouver in 2009 as deputy city manager. Then-Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver recently assumed office for the first of three terms chosen on a platform to make the city “the greenest in the world” Johnston seemed like a natural fit, recruiting from Chicago where he was Mayor Richard Daley’s chief environmental officer

At the time of Johnston’s arrival, the Vancouver media was talking about his youth: The Vancouver Sun described him as a “green wizard” while the longtime town hall observer Allen Garr, who wrote in The Courier, “called” him a sparkling slip (younger than my kids) ”

Johnston, now 46, sat down with Postmedia last week for a comprehensive interview about his professional years and his thoughts for the future

Johnston is proud of the advances Vancouver has made over the past decade in active transport, climate response and becoming more active in social housing

“But I realize there are things we haven’t resolved,” he said. “I’ve really had issues with downtown Eastside, homelessness, poverty, mental health and addiction – things that are outside of our direct mandate , but are worse than ever ”

Johnston praised the work ethic of the group of eleven he called his “bosses” – the Mayor and the Council – and stressed that they had worked hard on massive challenges even before the COVID-19 success. who is now roughly in the middle of his four-year term in office, gave some friendly farewell advice in an exit interview on camera

One clear difference between the three Vision Majority Councils and the current Vancouver Council – the first in a generation where neither party has a majority – is the sheer volume of motions. A CBC analysis found that the new council of Vancouver filed 51 requests in the first five months, a 180 percent increase from the pace of the previous council

Many of these motions direct employees to undertake significant projects in addition to existing workloads, and Johnston and other senior executives have repeatedly raised the issue at council meetings of overworked employees

“That was a struggle,” Johnston said last week. “One of the ongoing talks I have had with the Council is that if we are to do new work, we must either get rid of old work or put it in proper form so that we can get ours Don’t burn employees””

Johnston said he had actually proposed limiting the number of motions each city council can bring up

“Councilors, their names get known through motions, so there is an incentive to get more out of it,” Johnston said. Meanwhile, when other councilors “realize we have workflow challenges” and therefore not as many motions ask, they are “somehow punished” for not getting their name out ”

But if there was a rule, for example, restricting each city council to one motion per month, they’d have to prioritize, he said, “and you don’t have the situation where someone does 10 and someone doesn’t and you will Punished for realizing that we can no longer work ”

The length of council meetings has also increased significantly during this tenure, including lengthy debates on arcane, seemingly trivial matters.Some, including current council members, have publicly commented that the council has a reputation for spending a lot of time at times on little to reach

When he found that councilors sometimes spend hours on the council, “walking down a rabbit hole” and “discussing small amendments that are not that important,” said Johnston, “he encouraged them to be strategic about the amendments.” / P>

“I think they take their time and get things done,” said Johnston, “but they’ll also burn themselves to death if they’re not strategic about what they spend their time on”

Johnston also stood up and advised the council more frequently during council meetings this term compared to previous terms, for example when someone wanted to propose an amendment that might be illegal or otherwise ill-advised

“It’s interesting in this role, I have to tell my superiors all the time that I don’t recommend that they do what they are up to,” he said. “It’s a pretty awkward position you’ve seen me danced on the floor of the council … And they don’t always listen to me, but they always hear me ”

Johnston’s salary last year was 362000 US dollars and was thus below BC.Highest Paid City Government Worker He’s leaving the job on his own terms, he says, with no severance pay.In contrast, Johnston’s predecessor Penny Ballem received more than 550 severance pay when she was laid off in 2015$ 000

Not sure what job he will do next, Johnston said spending more time with family is now a top priority

Johnston lives in Strathcona most of the time, while his daughters, now 14 and 10, and his wife live more than 150 miles north of the coast on Cortes Island.Johnston travels back there regularly, but this trip – which is usually a combination of seaplanes , multiple ferries, hitchhiking, driving, and buses – is a tow that often takes eight hours or more each way

“I’ve just realized that I have to spend some time with my kids before it’s too late,” he said, “seeing your kids two weekends a month isn’t much … I don’t want my daughter goes to university and I feel like I missed the chance to be here ”

There were some emotional farewells at Johnston’s last council meeting, held online earlier this month, with the oldest member of the council, Green Coun Adriane Carr, torn as she predicted future generations will look back and the great strides the city will take under Johnston’s leadership in defining issues such as climate will be appreciated

When Johnston turned to the council, he thanked them “for putting up with my bad jokes at inopportune times”

“I’ve tried sometimes to give chambers a sense of lightness,” he said. “They usually fell flat, but at least you knew I tried”

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World News – CA – Dan Fumano: Outgoing city manager Sadhu Johnston is leaving on his own terms