More cuts possible after 6 city executives lose positions

Ottawa's new city manager Steve Kanellakos has put his stamp on how the municipality's 17,000-strong workforce is organized with a sweeping internal revamp that sees six executive managers and two additional workers shown the door at city hall.

New managers to look for ways to save money by budget time

Ottawa city council voted unanimously Wednesday to eliminate the city's two deputy city manager and two two deputy clerk positions. (Jean-Sebastien Marier/CBC)

Ottawa's new city manager Steve Kanellakos has put his stamp on how the municipality's 17,000-strong workforce is organized with a sweeping internal revamp that sees six executive managers and two additional workers shown the city hall door.

The changes will cost taxpayers $1.29 million in severance payments, but are expected to save $2.7 million over the rest of this term of council. And that may be just the beginning with hints of "further cost savings."

The reorganization means that when there's a meeting of senior managers, there will be 10 people around the table, instead of 21. A flatter management structure should make it easier for our city's leaders to communicate and get things done, Kanellakos said.

"When the senior managers got together there were 21 people sitting around the room with all various levels of responsibility of scope and scale of their jobs. And that made it very difficult to focus, to be able to get the discussions you need about the future of the organization and current issues," said Kanellakos, a long-time city manager who was given the top job in May after a short stint running the show in Vaughan, Ont.
Ottawa's new city manager Steve Kanellakos hinted more cuts could come. (CBC)

"And I think what this does is it gives clear functions."

The reorganization also means a couple of massive new departments have been created, such as a transportation services department that now includes transit, light rail, traffic and transportation planning.

Public works and environmental services — that's sewers, water and garbage — are being combined into one department. And planning will now include infrastructure, economic development and sponsorship.

Kanellakos said former planning boss John Moser will head the new planning department until the city hires a replacement. Moser will then leave the city.

"We're going to be doing a national search for that," Kanellakos said of the empty planning role. "I think that Ottawa, as the fourth largest city in Canada, should get the best person we can find to lead the planning and infrastructure department."

The two deputy manager positions have been eliminated. Eight executive managers now report directly to the city manager. They are:

  • John Manconi, general manager of transportation services. 
  • John Moser, acting general manager of planning, infrastructure and economic development.
  • Kevin Wylie, general manager of public works and environmental services. 
  • Janice Burelle, general manager of community and social services.
  • Dan Chenier, general manager of parks, recreation and cultural services.
  • Susan Jones, general manager of emergency and protective services.
  • Marian Simulik, city treasurer and general manager of fleet services, IT and real estate.
  • Donna Gray, general manager in charge of corporate communications, human resources, Service Ottawa and corporate planning.

In addition to Moser, the senior leaders who are leaving the organization include:

  • Aaron Burry, general manger of community and social services.
  • Charles Duffett, chief information officer.
  • Michael Mizzi, general manager of planning and growth management.
  • Wayne Newell, general manager of infrastructure services.
  • Dixon Weir, general manager of environmental services.

Kanellakos also confirmed that two administrators from his own office are leaving the city.

Other staff have changed jobs, although who's gone where isn't as obvious as the executive level moves. Deputy clerk Leslie Donnelly, for example, will become a senior policy advisor to the city manager. Saad Bashir of the economic development branch is moving to IT.

Council unanimously approved the changes, which Mayor Jim Watson said will create "a more streamlined organization that will be more responsive to the public." The mayor also said that management changes are not to affect city services.

More cuts coming

Kanellakos consulted widely before making the management changes, within city ranks, councillors' row and 75 outside stakeholders. None of them said the current process structure at the city was working.

However, Wednesday's executive shuffle may be just the beginning of the reorganization.

I've never said that it wouldn't be less people. I've told the staff there will be less people.- Steve Kanellakos, city manager

Both Kanellakos and Watson referred to "further cost savings" that will be identified as part of the reorganization, to be found during the months leading up to the 2017 draft budget.

The eight new managers will spend the summer reorganizing their new departments and identify where "efficiencies" might be found.

"It could mean less people," said Kanellakos. "I've never said that it wouldn't be less people. I've told the staff there will be less people. I just don't know what the extent of that is at this stage until we go in and start doing that hard work over the next two months."