Peter Kelly, former mayor of Halifax, to become Charlottetown CAO

It's official: Peter Kelly, who left public office in 2012 after serving as mayor of Halifax for 12 years, will be the new chief administrative officer for Charlottetown.

Kelly takes up his new position on May 1

Former Halifax mayor Peter Kelly will become the new chief administrative officer for the City of Charlottetown. (CBC)

It's official: Former Halifax mayor Peter Kelly will be the new chief administrative officer for Charlottetown, after spending the past two years working as the CAO for a municipality in northern Alberta.

City council voted at a public meeting Tuesday to appoint Kelly as of May 1.

"Peter brings with him years of experience as being a councillor in the Town of Bedford, he was a councillor in the City of Halifax, the longest-serving mayor in the City of Halifax, and a Chief Administrative Officer in Alberta," Mayor Clifford Lee said.

"So I think Peter brings lots of experience and a new focus to the city corporation."

57 applications were reviewed and "we have chosen the best candidate for the job," Lee said.

The salary range for the CAO position is between $112,858 and $134,355.

'Did he make mistakes? Probably'

Kelly served as mayor of Halifax from 2000 until 2012. During that time he championed the cleanup of Halifax harbour, delivered an apology to the people of Africville and helped the city host the 2011 Canada Winter Games.

He also faced controversy just prior to leaving public office.

The controversies included the Halifax Common concert scandal in which a promoter was advanced $400,000 without the knowledge of Halifax council, as well as criticism over how he handled his role as executor of the estate of a Bedford woman.

"I think he did a fantastic job for the citizens of Halifax," Lee told reporters gathered after Tuesday's announcement,

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee blames the media for negative coverage of Peter Kelly during his time as mayor of Halifax. (CBC)

"The criticism of Mr. Kelly was really from the media in Halifax .. you can't hire someone or not hire someone based on the fact that some members of the media may not have liked the candidate," said Lee. 

"Did he make any mistakes? Probably. There's not one of us in public life today that can say we've never made a mistake in making something happen or not making something happen."

Kelly has called the controversies learning experiences.

"You just take the lessons learned, you move forward, and you put your best foot forward and you do a great job," Kelly told CBC News: Compass in an interview Tuesday.

His focus now, he said, is dealing with Charlottetown's infrastructure and deficit.

"I want to work with council to make sure we make the quality of life better, and that takes a strong team and I want to be part of that strong team."

Conducted council pay review

In an interview with CBC News in November, Kelly said his contract as chief administrative officer of Westlock, Alta., was set to end in February and he planned to come back to the east coast at that time.

Westlock County Reeve Bud Massey said he was sad to see Kelly go.

"It's a tremendous loss for us and our citizens," said Massey, "However, we are never one to stand in the way of somebody who has something else on their agenda."

In spite of the controversy that clouded the end of his time in office, some in Halifax have said they would like to see him enter politics again, though Kelly has said he is not interested.

Prior to taking the job in Alberta, Kelly worked briefly in pest control.

Last year he also conducted a non-tendered independent review of Charlottetown councillors' pay, giving them a bump in salary.

"I was a consultant at the time. I have done many consultant jobs," Kelly said, adding that there is no conflict of interest "as long as you have the facts before you."

Clifford Lee also pointed out that Kelly did the pay review for the city months prior to the CAO position coming open in Charlottetown. "One has nothing to do with the other ... for me to stand here today and go back to that bit of work and compare it to this process, they're not related," said Lee.

The biography section of the 26-page review doesn't mention Kelly's time as mayor of Halifax, but does highlight his more than 30 years of "senior management and consultant experience," plus work on many boards and committees which has left "lasting legacies during his public and private sector work."

Kelly told CBC News at the time that while his biography made no mention of his time as an elected official, it points out that he has extensive experience in municipal government.

Current Chief Administrative Officer Donna Waddell is retiring after 29 years with the City of Charlottetown. 


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