Winnipeg bug boss Taz Stuart's departure a mystery
The City of Winnipeg has severed ties with its top entomologist, Taz Stuart.
Steve West, the city’s head of corporate communications, confirmed Stuart was no longer with the city on Wednesday.
Stuart has held the top post with the city’s pest control department since 2004, when he took over for Randy Gadawsky.
For the past nine years, Stuart has been at the forefront of the battle against Winnipeg’s mosquito population.
West wouldn’t say why Stuart left or what the circumstances were surrounding the departure, and Stuart declined to comment on Wednesday.
When Stuart was hired, Mayor Sam Katz called the entomologist a "rockstar" adding he would "buy tickets to his concert any day of the week."
Now, officials will only say Stuart’s departure is an administrative, personnel matter.
Katz himself said he was surprised by the news.
"We don’t always know what’s going on," he said. "But this is something — a decision has been made."
It’s not even known how long Stuart has been gone from his post. City Coun. Paula Havixbeck said someone else started answering his work phone at least two weeks ago.
She was trying to get in touch with him to discuss the mosquito population in her area.
"If you went into Charleswood, you could not sit in those yards," she said.
City Coun. Harvey Smith said he thinks the city should be more transparent about what happened.
"I think we deserve an answer because, you know, this is an important position. It’s like the CEO or the Chief of Police. It’s a prominent position," he said.
They city has not yet said when it will begin its search for Stuart’s replacement.