Lester Deane no longer running public works for City of Winnipeg

The City of Winnipeg has lost another senior manager, as Lester Deane is no longer the head of public works.

Department director was absent all week, prompting questions about his status

Public works director Lester Deane showed reporters his Tesla last week, after the public works committee voted to look into installing quick-charge stations for electric cars. He is no longer running the department. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

The City of Winnipeg has lost another senior manager, as Lester Deane is no longer the head of public works.

Winnipeg chief transportation and utilities officer Dave Wardrop announced Friday that Deane is no longer running the department, which he had led since January 2016.

"I am writing to inform you that Lester Deane will no longer be serving as the director of public works for the City of Winnipeg," Wardrop told city councillors and senior managers via email.

Wardrop did not provide an explanation.

​Deane, a 14-year city employee, could not be reached for comment Thursday. Winnipeg communications director Felicia Wiltshire said Thursday evening Deane remained a city employee.

Lester Deane no longer director of public works

6 years ago
Duration 1:40
Lester Deane no longer director of public works

Deane has been absent from city hall all week due to what public works chair Marty Morantz (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Whyte Ridge) described as a human-resources matter.

Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt demanded to know Deane's status, given public works is responsible for road construction and the city is in the midst of ramping up roadwork for the summer construction season.

"The problems we're seeing inside public works are a small example of the problems across the entire public service, and that is a lack of strategic planning or direction," Wyatt said Friday.

Deane and Mayor Brian Bowman disagreed publicly about the reopening of Portage and Main last year, but it's unclear whether that had anything to do with the administrator's departure.

Jim Berezowsky will act as public works manager for the time being, Wardrop said in his email.

Mayor Brian Bowman deferred comment to chief administrative officer Doug McNeil, who has not made a statement about Deane.

South Winnipeg-St. Norbert Coun. Janice Lukes said while she doesn't know what happened to the former public works director, she can draw a personal comparison.

"I didn't necessarily agree with the mayor on a few things and [look] where I am now," she quipped.


Bartley Kives

Senior reporter, CBC Manitoba

Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba.