Former City of Powell River councillor, Russell Brewer, has been named the new chief administrative officer.
The announcement was made on Monday, November 19. Brewer replaces outgoing CAO Mac Fraser.
“I used to say that I wish I could work on city initiatives full time and being a councillor doesn't really allow you to do that,” said Brewer, who served two terms on council. “I love the idea of applying myself on a full-time basis to the work that's going on. I always thought that I'd love to be doing it within city hall rather than just being an elected official.”
In his role as CAO, Brewer, who was selected the Peak’s Person of the Year for 2017, will essentially run the city, implementing policy decisions made by council. His experience on that side of municipal politics will serve him well as the top official in the city.
According to mayor Dave Formosa, the selection process was very robust.
“In the end the choice was clear, and we selected one of our own,” said Formosa. “Russell has a deep and intimate knowledge of the city’s internal workings, its culture, and council’s vision for the future of the community.”
Brewer takes over from Fraser in December at a time when the outlook for Powell River is facing complex issues.
“There's lots going on,” he said. “I'm not under any illusion that it's going to be easy. We're busy. Lots of positive stuff. Lots of things to deal with. I'm excited to jump in at this time for sure.”
Brewer said his knowledge of the inner workings of the city will help him immensely in his new position, as will his past relationships with the mayor, councillors and city staff.
“I’m really familiar with the initiatives and the work that's been going on for the last seven years and longer with my other roles,” said Brewer. “A lot of that steep learning curve and being embedded in the community and understanding the community; a lot of that's there already so I really will be able to hit the ground running for the most part.”
Brewer's commitment in Powell River is well known.
A Métis francophone from Saint Boniface, Manitoba, he moved to BC in 1990 and has lived in Powell River since 1998. He has two adult children, Zevier and Zoe.
Currently, Brewer is president of the Powell River Cycling Association and Powell River Métis Society, and treasurer for the Powell River Division of Family Practice. He is also a past president of Tourism Powell River, and past treasurer for Sunshine Coast Tourism, Powell River Track and Field, and the Mountain Bike Tourism Association of BC. In the recent municipal election, he was elected as a board trustee with School District 47, a position he will continue in.
“I want to keep serving Powell River in this new role,” said Brewer. “It's exciting.”
After six years as CAO with the city and, prior to that, 18 months with qathet Regional District, Fraser will be retiring in December.
“It's been an honour to serve; Powell River is a great community,” said Fraser. “There's an old expression that says, ‘if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.’ The city has gone far with a whole bunch of people around it. It’s been a very positive workplace environment for me, council and senior staff, and all of the employees.”