District “ends relationship” with Barry Elliott

Trent Ernst, Editor

The District of Tumbler Ridge has terminated CAO Barry Elliott.

According to Mayor Don McPherson in a press release, the decision to end the relationship was made “on a without cause basis.”

As such, Elliott will be entitled to a severance payment in accordance with the terms of his employment contract.

Elliott is declining comment “for now.”

Elliott joined the District of Tumbler Ridge on September 1, 2011. According to the District website, Elliott has worked extensively in local government for more than 30 years, in three different provinces and in seven different communities. He served 21 of these years as a department head in leisure and community services.

“Having spent 13 years working in Mackenzie and Fort Nelson, Barry is familiar with Tumbler Ridge and area,” says his biography.

Mayor McPherson says the decision to end the relationship was difficult. “It wasn’t an easy decision,” he says. “We mulled it over, and we all voted to make the best decision for the District. It took us days of conversations. In the end, we feel that we wanted to go a different direction than he was going in.”

McPherson says the decision was especially hard considering how much time he has spent with Elliott in his time as mayor. “I consider Barry a good friend. I’m not saying I wasn’t in favour of it, but it was a tough decision.”
Beyond that, though, he says there’s not much that can be said about the matter. “I’m not going to speak to why we made this decision,” says the mayor.

This most recent council has had a sometimes antagonistic relationship with staff, says an unnamed source, and Elliott has borne the brunt of it.

“He was a good person to work for. To work with. It’s sad to see him go.”
In addition to being the Chief Administrative Officer, Elliott was also acting Corporate Officer and acting Chief Financial Officer.

The District has already stated its intent to hire a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), but will need to fill the CAO position now as well.

Interim CAO Aleen Torraville says the CFO position will be posted “pretty soon.” However, starting Monday, the District will be bringing in a consultant to do an administrative evaluation of District as a whole.

Elliott is the fifth CAO in Tumbler Ridge in a decade, after the departure of long-time CAO Fred Banham, who is the consultant who will be helping the District look at staffing issues. Banham was replaced by Nigel Black, who was followed by Jack Mussallem, then Lonnie Miller, then Kim Isaac.

The full text of the release is as follows:

Mayor Don McPherson announced that District Council decided in a closed session last night (October 28) to end the District’s employment relationship with CAO Barry Elliott.

As the principal policy advisor to Council and the leader of the District administration Mr. Elliott was responsible for overall administration of the District’s operations. Council did not make the decision lightly and its decision to end the relationship was made on a without cause basis. Accordingly, Mr. Elliott will be entitled to a severance payment in accordance with the terms of his employment contract.

While it has decided to go in a different direction and will be hiring a new Chief Administrative Officer, Council wishes to acknowledge Mr. Elliott’s years of service and dedication to the District and wish him well in his future endeavours.