The District of Barriere welcomed a new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) at the beginning of July and due to COVID-19, the transition has been somewhat unconventional, but smooth.
“It’s an added dimension to things these days,” said Bob Payette, the District’s new CAO. “The transition has been very smooth…council’s been excellent.”
Coming in from Lethbridge, Alta., one may wonder how he even heard of the position. Payette received a phone call from a former colleague, put in an application and, as they say, the rest was history.
He added he has a lot of ties to British Columbia, as he was a district manager in Port Edward while living on the north coast for some time, and he has family members scattered throughout the province.
For his entire working life, Payette has worked in public service, from parks and recreation to community development to community protective services. He was also town manager for a few different places over the span of eight years.
“I get to be involved with all aspects of the operations and be able to help out and work through issues and keep the municipal tax rate down as best I can,” said Payette about the role of CAO. “Making sure everything’s efficient and running smoothly.”
Taking part in community events and “getting the good word out” about Barriere are also some things Payette said he is looking forward to.
Throughout his working life, Payette has had the opportunity to either work in or closely work with the various different departments of a municipality. This, he said, allows him to have a very good working knowledge of the roles associated with keeping a district working smoothly, as well as some of the “trials and tribulations” attached to them.
“I’m able to help out in that way,” he added.
The position of CAO is a dynamic role — their duties include overall management of the municipality, advising and informing council about the municipalities operations and ensures policies, programs and other directions of council are implemented.
Payette said that while there’s always more to do than there is time, all it takes is good communitication and establishing priorities.
“With a good council, you can prioritize on a monthly basis and make sure council’s aware of what the priorities are and where you have to focus your time,” he explained. “Being able to communicate with council is important in the role.”
Between virtual council meetings, a tour of the town, and getting the old home ready to sell in Lethbridge, he said he hasn’t had that much time to explore, but can’t wait to see what the region has to offer.
“We’re looking forward to getting to Barriere and finding a place to live in a beautiful location,” said Payette. “It’s almost like a hidden gem.”.