Lester Deane no longer running public works for City of Winnipeg
Department director was absent all week, prompting questions about his status
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 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.
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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.