Don Kochan, Canmore’s chief administrative officer for the last five years, resigned from his position as of last Friday (Nov. 18).
The Outlook could not reach Kochan, who lives on a ranch outside Cochrane, however, Mayor Ron Casey said he left on good terms after leading the Town through some tumultuous times.
Casey said Kochan’s intentions when he became CAO in 2007 were to spend five years in the position after already working 10 years as part of the municipality’s administration.
“He had been up front with that,” said the mayor.
Casey said a variety of factors influenced Kochan’s decision to resign, including his turning 60, having to commute through another winter and filling key positions on his executive staff resulting in a lowered workload.
The CAO position is council’s only employee and the only person who answers directly to council for administration.
On Tuesday (Nov. 22), council voted unanimously to appoint Lisa de Soto as interim CAO. De Soto held the position of manager of municipal infrastructure and before that was deputy CAO for several years.
Casey said de Soto is familiar with the job, the processes and the community and council wanted somebody to fill that position until it decides how it will recruit to replace Kochan permanently.
“Before we actively go out looking for a CAO it could be a number of months,” the mayor said, estimating upwards of six months will be needed for the process.
The last time council hired a CAO, Casey said there was not a well-developed package to explain the job and council’s expectations.
In the new year, council will begin the process of defining the job description to its satisfaction and decide whether or not to engage a headhunting firm to recruit or do that in house.
“There is a fair bit of work,” said Casey.
Kochan not only leaves the position, but also a new Volkswagen Jetta purchased for him a year ago.
Casey said the provision of a vehicle was part of his contract and allowed him to travel for the job without requisitioning one from the vehicle pool. He also used it to commute to his home near Cochrane.
While the mayor acknowledged it is important to have a CAO that lives in the community to have a thorough understanding of the issues facing it, it is not something council could require as part of an employment contract.