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MD of Bighorn approves new protective services position

“Chief Lyster was wearing many hats over the years, too many hats. I believe at this point; we need to take parts of those responsibilities and create positions that will be successful and can deal with the workload.”
MD of Bighorn office 1
MD of Bighorn Office. EVAN BUHLER RMO PHOTO

MD OF BIGHORN – With the retirement of fire chief Rick Lyster looming at the end of May, taking with him more than 40 years of experience, the Municipal District of Bighorn is making some changes to the fire chief position.

Lyster not only served as the fire chief, but the community peace officer, supervisor of bylaw services, the safety codes officer, and the director of emergency management.

“Chief Lyster was wearing many hats over the years, too many hats,” CAO Robert Ellis said. “I believe at this point, we need to take parts of those responsibilities and create positions that will be successful and can deal with the workload.”

The proposal put forward to council was to create a new director of protective services position, which would be bundled in the fire chief position.

“We need to make a bold move and create a position called director of protective services/fire chief,” Ellis said.

Money for the position has already been allocated to the fire chief position. Any overages would be brought forward for approval from the operating reserve.

Another concern was whether there would be difficulty in filling the new position.

“I like this, but are we going to struggle to find someone to do the fire chief position and director of protective services?” Councillor Jen Smith said. “It seems to be it will be on one person with some help from bylaw.”

Administration responded that the new position would create less of a workload for the new chief.

“With this change, it is pretty self-contained. The person reports to the director position, the director is not involved in the day-to-day operations of bylaw enforcement,” Ellis said. “We will see how it does work. My feeling is that it will work.”

Councillor Joss Elford also expressed concern about hiring a person for two different positions in one, with two different sets of qualifications.

“Will we find someone with enough experience in either or both? I feel that it is a two-position job,” Elford said. “We are hiring a firefighter and a policeman. Are we going to be able to find the right person who is good at both jobs? That is what we need.”

Ellis responded that he was confident someone could be found.

Reeve Lisa Rosvold asked if, considering the timeline, a recruiting company would be hired.

“That is in my back pocket if we cannot find someone,” Ellis said. “I would like to start the recruitment from an administration standpoint and go from there.”

The goal is to find someone before Lyster retires.

“I realize that there are still things that have to be done. I am not too sure how we are going to handle that. My wife has plans for me almost immediately,” Lyster said. “I will help as much as I possibly can for sure.”

Council voted unanimously to approve the new position.