The Odd Methods Of City Management: THE VOTER


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So the planning department has had an interim general manager since August 2022 and they’ve just appointed another interim person to replace him effective January of next year.

Where, 18 months later, are the efforts to just fill the position with an actual general manager? I have three possible answers to that.

First is that nobody in their right mind has any interest in leading the current iteration of Ottawa’s planning department. We all know the reasons this might be the case.

The second possibility is that some people in the city administration aren’t interested in providing planning staff with permanent leadership that might actually, you know, see their role as an actual leader who might show some responsibility and clean up the mess over there. Some people may be quite happy with the current state of affairs.

The third and most likely reason can be pulled out by looking at soon-to-be interim general manager Vivi Chi’s recent career history. There was a memo that came out a number of years ago telling us that she was going to be taken out of what was her job at the time and given a created-for-her position from whence she would be trained in all the different aspects of the department and essentially how to be a general manager. After that exercise, she would be uniquely positioned to take over the department when the general manager of the day departed.

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The outgoing interim general manager Don Herweyer was essentially a place-holder for her eventual accession to the top job when it became vacant before she was ready to move up. She is now being given the interim position and they will shortly begin a search for a permanent general manager. After looking far and wide, they will miraculously discover that the best candidate is … (drumroll please.) Vivi Chi. Which will be unsurprising since she’s been on a city-funded training program for the post for a couple of years now. From the press release: “As AGM, Vivi had the opportunity to strengthen the core leadership skills and competencies required of a GM.”

What will be quite fascinating is if they launch their search and find someone who is more qualified than Chi. That would also cause some red faces down at the Laurier Bunker. The interesting part will be seeing what happens to the position that they created for her to learn the ropes. Unless the expectation is that she won’t be in the job very long, do we still need a training position for general manager? I note that other city departments don’t seem to see the need to train their staff for the next job up the ladder.

The Voter is a respected community activist and long-time Bulldog commenter who prefers to keep her identity private.


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8 Responses

  1. Andrew says:

    I suspect this retirement is coming as the complaints about the Lansdowne 2.0 “breaking of all rules” process that was used continue to mount. We will start seeing others in the pocket of OSEG go soon as well. The saying “rats leaving the sinking ship”comes to mind.

  2. John Langstone says:

    Perhaps the City will search for someone in the development sector now that real public consultation appears to be officially dead. Seems to me it would just formalize what is effectively happening already.

  3. Richard says:

    Is it looking more and more like the current version of the Watson club don’t want a professional, transparent city administration?

  4. Bruce says:

    Perhaps Murphy, departed from the halls many years past as a “planner” or Frank Cairo (Cavain developer of the Jock wetlands) could be persuaded to take the job they are already well trained for? Concierge Supremo.

  5. Kosmo says:

    Whatever the reason it sounds like bad planning to me.

  6. Ken Gray says:


    I’ve often said they should contract planning out to the developers because they get what they want anyway and we could save money on planners.



  7. Been There says:

    We’ll stated Voter. If an outside search doesn’t turn up any qualified new blood, the citizens of Ottawa have been hoodwinked once again.

  8. Ron Benn says:

    There is every appearance that the fix is in.

    I am left to wonder whether an outside search is worth the effort or the money. To go through a(nother) recruiting charade demonstrates a lack of respect for the candidates, the recruiting agency and the money that will go to the recruiting agency. But then again, respect is something one seldom finds in the hallways and offices down at city hall.

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