.New CAO calls for culture change
Bruce Hain Simcoe.com February 19 2010 It’s time for a culture change within the Town of Innisfil, according to the municipality’s new top bureaucrat.
John Skorobohacz, the Town of Innisfil’s recently hired chief administrative officer (CAO), spoke to members of the Greater Innisfil Chamber of Commerce at their monthly breakfast meeting Feb. 17.
Asked to speak on “the future of Innisfil”, Skorobohacz said with 2010 being a municipal election year, “There will be plenty of folks who will be bending your ears about the future of Innisfil. I encourage you to become engaged in that discourse and ensure that your voice is represented in the views of the candidates who will be seeking municipal office.”
The one constant Skorobohacz said he’s seen in 25 years of municipal employment is change.
“When I fist started in local government, the council term was two years. It became a three-year term and then four years. I have seen more than a dozen different municipal councils and I can safely say the vast majority of those individuals who choose to run for elected office do so on a platform for change. So, I am not naïve to think the world won’t take a significant turn come Oct. 25 (election day).”
With Innisfil still reeling from the loss of land to Barrie on Jan. 1. 2010 through provincial government decree, Skorobohacz said, “We need for the Town to be more strategic, proactive and far less parochial in our outlook. We need to start to build stronger alliances with our neighbours and with senior levels of government. We can ill afford to ignore the importance of building bridges and engaging in productive, meaningful dialogue on our future and the future of this region. Can we continue to do business the same way we always have? The obvious answer is no.”
The province also will dictate how Innisfil, and other districts outside Toronto, will grow in the years ahead.
“We are in an era where land use planning is becoming more about satisfying a provincial numbers game, rather than empowering local governments to be masters of their own destiny,” Skorobohacz said. “Despite that fact, Innisfil has some significant growth opportunities.”
While the Highway 400 corridor near Innisfil Heights “has the potential to provide significant and positive change to this community – the whole Simcoe Growth management initiative is in my view a short-term solution which is in need of some bolder initiative that will address the challenge of infrastructure governance. It is no longer good enough for one jurisdiction to hold another hostage where public funding for local infrastructure comes from the broader tax base. We need a more mature decision making process that transcends parochialism and starts to understand the real benefits of regional thinking.”
The Innisfil/Bradford water servicing partnership is a good example of the type of “broader thinking” Skorobohacz approves.
“This is the type of partnership model which supports regional economic prosperity and the type we need to embrace to compete on the global stage.”
In the weeks ahead, council will endorse a new organizational structure resulting in a leaner senior management team including a director of finance and customer service, a director of legal services and town clerk. Posts of a director of infrastructure and town engineer must be filled too, Skorobohacz said.
“As business leaders, you know it is not sufficient to simply hire individuals who have good solid technical skills – it is equally important to have the right attitude,” he said.