City man­ager leaves for Toronto city hall job

Field­ing rec­og­nized for his blunt, some­times crit­i­cal, ways with coun­cil­lors

StarMetro Calgary - - CALGARY - MADE­LINE SMITH

Jeff Field­ing, Cal­gary's city man­ager, is step­ping down more than a year be­fore his con­tract is set to end.

Field­ing said Tuesday that “cir­cum­stances have changed” for his fam­ily, lead­ing to a de­ci­sion to move back to On­tario. He’s set to be­gin work April 1 as chief of staff for Toronto city man­ager Chris Mur­ray.

It’s a newly cre­ated role for the City of Toronto, and Field­ing said he’s still learn­ing about it him­self.

In an email to City of Toronto staff and coun­cil mem­bers ob­tained by StarMetro, Mur­ray said Field­ing has “the right mea­sure of ed­u­ca­tion, lead­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence and zeal for con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment to make a great con­tri­bu­tion to the city and our work­force as a mem­ber of our lead­er­ship team.”

Field­ing started with the City of Cal­gary in 2014, af­ter work­ing as the city man­ager in Burling­ton, Ont., and Lon­don, Ont. He also worked in Win­nipeg for nearly two decades. Field­ing’s orig­i­nal four-year con­tract as Cal­gary’s city man­ager was ex­tended twice, and his cur­rent con­tract was to end June 2020.

Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi noted that Field­ing was hired at a mo­ment of tran­si­tion for Cal­gary: just af­ter the 2013 flood, and right be­fore col­laps­ing oil prices trig­gered a ma­jor eco­nomic down­turn.

“When we were in­ter­view­ing (Field­ing), part of our pitch was, ‘It’s a city that’s grow­ing, it’s a city that’s boom­ing,’” he said, jok­ing oil prices dropped “the mo­ment” Field­ing got the job.

The city man­ager is de­part­ing at an­other dif­fi­cult time for Cal­gary, as the city faces the task of find­ing a way to make up the non-res­i­den­tial prop­erty tax rev­enue trig­gered by per­sis­tently high down­town of­fice va­can­cies and mas­sive de­val­u­a­tion of down­town build­ings.

Field­ing has also been known for his some­times blunt as­sess­ments of city is­sues and his will­ing­ness to speak crit­i­cally to coun­cil­lors at times.

“There’s times you need to be frank with coun­cil, but you also know you can’t use that tac­tic too of­ten,” Field­ing said.

Nen­shi said that hon­esty is some­thing he has “val­ued ex­traor­di­nar­ily”.

“We knew we would al­ways get an hon­est an­swer, a real an­swer . ... (Field­ing) was never, ever shy about that,” he said.


“We knew we would al­ways get an hon­est an­swer, a real an­swer,” Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi said of city man­ager Jeff Field­ing upon his res­ig­na­tion an­nounce­ment.

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