City manager leaves for Toronto city hall job
Fielding recognized for his blunt, sometimes critical, ways with councillors
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.