Former Regional CAO Merv Beckstead Dies In Fall


This note was passed on to me by long-time Bulldog reader and Ottawa transition board member David Muir.

It is very sad news:

From: Mary Jo Beckstead
Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2024 3:02 PM
Subject: Merv

I have some very sad news…Merv passed away today after suffering severe brain injuries as a result of a fall on December 31st in South Carolina while we were on our way to Amelia Island….he was airlifted to Charleston SC where he was ventilated in the  Neuroscience Trauma ICU….we remained there until January 10 when we were transported to the Ottawa Hospital ICU by air ambulance….his injuries were such that he would not survive…the ventilator was removed yesterday morning. He will be missed.
A Celebration of Life will take place at a later date after we have had time to deal with his loss.
MaryJo =

Former Ottawa Carleton Regional Government CAO Merv Beckstead was called the best public servant at any level of government in this city.

In my many, many dealings with him, I’m sure that is true.

He was honest, helpful, very funny and kind in his dealings with me when I covered Ottawa City Hall for the Citizen.

We could have used Merv a great deal at the current city hall. I can assure you that the mess that is Ottawa light rail would never have happened had Merv been running the operation.

His work along with former regional chairman Bob Chiarelli during the 1998 Ottawa Ice Storm was magnificent.

Merv will be missed by all who knew him as a friend and colleague. My best to Mary Jo in this sad time.

Ken Gray


City Reserves: What If Another Ice Storm Strikes? THE VOTER

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4 Responses

  1. Cameron Johnstone says:

    Such sad news to hear of the passing of Merv Beckstead. As a former CUPE executive member during his tenure as CAO I can tell you that he valued organized labour and ensured the voices of the workers were included along with the usual corporate and BIA stakeholders when key policy decisions were contemplated in the Region.
    The all hands on board response to the ice storm was a direct result of the seeds of respect planted by the Merv Beckstead and Bob Chiarelli administration at that time. How far we have fallen since those glory days.
    Our deep sympathies go out to Mary Jo Beckstead and Merv’s family and friends.

    Cameron Johnstone
    Past President
    CUPE Local 5500

  2. Ken Gray says:


    It shows the respect Merv engendered when a labour leader writes such good words about a man who would normally be perceived as someone on the other side of the bargaining table.

    Merv should have been the first city manager of the amalgamated City of Ottawa.


  3. Bob says:

    So sad…. He was the best. I sought his opinion in many, many difficult situations and learnt a great deal from him. What a great opportunity and honor I had, Bob Chiarelli & Merv Beckstead …….
    RIP Merv, Merci Beaucoup/Thank You

  4. Brian Ford says:

    Very sad to hear of the passing of Merv Beckstead, I worked with him through the Ice Storm and many other issues as Chief of Police. He was thoughtful, energetic with a great sense of humour, and always gave wise counsel. It was a pleasure to work with him and he will be dearly missed.

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