The “parting of ways” of South Dundas director of public works Chris Bazinet marks the third high profile departure from the municipality’s senior administration in as many years.
In 2015, Chief Administrative Officer Stephen McDonald parted ways with South Dundas, having served in that role for nearly 10 years. South Dundas Fire and Emergency Services Chief Chris McDonough left in 2016, having held that role for over five years. Bazinet held the public works position for four years.
What these three senior staff members had in common from our observations was a willingness to stand up for what they thought was right for the greater municipality, to stand by opinions based on their knowledge and experience.
All three knew and understood their fields of responsibility and their roles within the municipal structure. They were well-trained professionals who had gained a great deal of experience before arriving in South Dundas.
Regardless of the dollar figures that may have been attached to their “parting of the ways,” in the long run the costs may be much greater.
Let’s look at the public works department. How many projects is that department currently working on? At the very least these include bridge closures, roads projects, plaza canopies, waste site expansion/closures – all big ticket items for the department with the largest budget.
Will those projects be put on hold until personnel are replaced? Or, is the workload added to remaining staff who may not have the necessary experience or time?
Conflicts between staff and council are expected, but it begs the question, are staff paid to pander to council, or to look out for the municipality’s best interests? Is this upheaval in the municipality’s best interest? Council’s? Staff’s? Residents? Who benefits?
This much staff turnover, in such a short period of time, may make it difficult for South Dundas to recruit future administrative replacements who are talented and competent. Such turnover affects how we appear to those outside of South Dundas.
Snap decisions can have long lasting consequences for all involved.