BANFF – Robert Earl is leaving his position as Banff town manager after 15 years.
Earl, who took the job as the top municipal bureaucrat in Canada’s premier tourist town in 2004, has accepted an offer to be chief administrative officer of Colwood, a coastal city of about 16,000 residents, located 10 kilometres from Victoria. B.C.
With daughter Emily, 23 and son Isaac, 21, off at university, Earl said he felt the time was right for him and his wife Jeannette to explore a new path and take on a new adventure.
“We love Banff very much and we’ve built our lives around this community,” he said, noting the last 15 years here provided stability for his children as they grew up here.
“There was an internal struggle between my personal love of people and place, but then my logical professional perspective that I’ve probably been here too long.”
For those who worked with Earl, one of his greatest strengths is considered his ability to be a strategic thinker, allowing him to dig deep on issues and come up with forward thinking solutions.
A strong supporter of environmental initiatives, such as Roam public transit, solid waste and energy consumption initiatives, he also has been credited with putting the municipality on strong financial footing.
Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen said she respects Earl’s decision to leave, noting the City of Colwood and life on the island will be an exciting new chapter for him.
“It’s a huge loss for the Town of Banff and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him,” said Sorensen, who was elected to council the year after Earl joined the municipality.
“He was visionary … and this ability to look at a situation and potential solutions and envision them six steps down the road has been quite an incredible gift.”
Earl takes over from the City of Colwood’s CAO Ian Howat, who retires on June 30. Having given three months’ notice to Sorensen and council, Earl’s last day on the job is Aug. 5.
“Council will be meeting on May 13 with the director of human resources to discuss recruitment processes,” said Sorensen.
Earl, who has worked in government for 24 years, said he is very proud of the municipality’s accomplishments during his time in Banff, but also believes that every organization can benefit from new leadership from time-to-time.
He said he’s been lucky in assembling a very strong team of directors and managers, who have been able to help council articulate its vision for this community – one that focuses on housing, transportation, environment, economy, recreation and so much more.
“It’s a really exciting time in Banff right now, moving forward on transportation issues, on solid waste issues, on water issues,” he said.
“I’m very proud of many things that I’ve done here, but I will also be proud of where Banff takes the next five years or 10 years – and there’s lots of interesting things on the doorstep.”
Earl said he loves to work in an organization that creates comfort for the team to take strategic and calculated risks that can lead to a better community and better lives for people in that community.
When Roam public transit was born in 2008, he said a decision was made against a traditional service, but to come up with one to ramp up environmental performance and branding with spectacular wildlife photos.
“It was, from my perspective, wildly successful, and it’s now moving into the national park and the next big shift will be mass transportation from Calgary,” he said. The local Banff routes alone saw almost one million riders last year.
“That is truly needed if we are to be a model environmental community. We cannot have people bringing their cars here.”
Setting an example on that front, Earl is an avid mountain biker and road cyclist and this has spilled over into the municipality’s emphasis on making the world a better place for pedestrians and cyclists.
“It’s been an incredible ride,” said Earl. “It was a dream job and it delivered.”