At County Council: new CAO and call for EPR

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County hires new CEO

The man who manages Niagara Falls is sailing back to Alberta to become Sturgeon County’s new top dog.

Sturgeon County council voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Reegan McCullough as their new chief administrative officer effective Nov. 5.

Council hired Bill Minnes as an interim CAO in January to replace Peter Tarnawsky, whom they fired last December. Councillors worked with the recruiting firm Aplin Executive Search over the summer to find a permanent replacement.

The firm put out a nationwide call for applicants and received about 60 responses, said county Mayor Alanna Hnatiw. A council subcommittee consisting of herself and councillors Wayne Bokenfohr and Susan Evans interviewed six semifinalists, the top two of whom were grilled by the whole of council last week. McCullough got a job offer soon after.

McCullough is currently the chief executive officer of the Niagara Parks Commission, which oversees Niagara Falls in Ontario. He served as head of the Oil Sands Community Alliance for about three years, assistant deputy minister for Alberta Tourism for around nine and executive director of the Alberta Housing Development Program for about 16, according to his LinkedIn profile.

While he hasn’t served in municipal government, Hnatiw said McCullough was well-versed with the Municipal Government Act through his work at the provincial level, had much knowledge of the oil and gas sector and was a longtime Alberta resident. Council also liked his balance of private and government experience and his calm, confident demeanour.

“Having a permanent CAO in place will help stabilize our organization after a year of great change,” Hnatiw said.

“Reegan’s work experience will help the county strategize going into the future on how to grow responsibly and manage our funds wisely.”

Hnatiw said Minnes would work with McCullough for up to 30 days after he arrives to get him up to speed. Besides the 2019 budget, one of the first items on McCullough’s to-do list will be to implement the results of the county’s upcoming organizational review.

Council thanked Minnes for his efforts as interim CAO.

McCullough could not be reached for an interview by press time.

Waste lobbying

County council wants the province to force manufacturers to take responsibility for the waste they create.

Council voted unanimously Tuesday to lobby the province to adopt extended producer responsibility legislation as recommended by the Edmonton Region Waste Advisory Committee.

Extended producer responsibility laws require manufacturers to ensure that certain materials in their products (e.g. Styrofoam) get recycled, which typically means they have to run or pay for recycling programs, explained Recycling Council of Alberta executive director Christina Seidel in an interview. This moves some or all of the cost of recycling onto the producer and off the taxpayer and sends producers price signals to create less wasteful products.

Seidel noted that Alberta promised to create these laws through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment back in 2009, but it has yet to do so. Alberta is now the only province without such legislation.

“We are complete laggards when it comes to (this policy).”

Municipalities are having to subsidize programs for oil, paint, plastic and electronic waste to keep them active, and Calgary is now struggling to manage warehouses full of plastic waste, Evans told county council.

“We need to bring the province into the 21st century,” Evans said, and to bring producers to the table to take responsibility for what they make.

“We need this extended producer responsibility to take place so that these kind of products at their end use have some place (to go) other than landfills.”

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About Author

Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.