District Hires New Chief Administrative Officer

Trent Ernst, Editor


Tumbler Ridge has a new CAO.

Former Economic Development Officer Jordan Wall is stepping up the ladder to fill the position that was left empty when the District ended its relationship with former CAO Barry Elliott in October of last year.

Mayor Don McPherson says that there were four strong candidates for the position of CAO. Two from Vancouver Island and two from Tumbler Ridge. “They were all strong candidates,” says McPherson. “Council interviewed them all. Of the four, Jordan had the least experience, but I’ve been working with Jordan for two years and he has passion which makes up for the lack of experience.”

Indeed, says McPherson, Wall had been doing a lot of CAO-style work in his role as Economic Development Officer. “I’ve been to more places with Jordan than with anyone, and that’s including the big meetings with ministers and even the Premier.  He’s a very strong person in Victoria. His weakness is in town here.”

And what does McPherson see as Wall’s weakness? His inexperience. “Just knowing the charter, how things progress, how issues should be handled,” says McPherson. But that shouldn’t be that big of an issue. “We have lots of expertise in town hall. Aleen [Torraville] is good at that. Hope those two can work together; between the two of them, they have everything needed.”

While Wall replaces Elliott, McPherson makes it clear that he just taking over the CAO position. “We will be hiring a Corporate Officer and a Chief Financial Officer as well,” he says. “We are going to do a search for candidates in the same way, but the timeline for filling these positions is totally up to Jordan. I’m not shy about telling him that I want to see it sooner rather than later, but it’s his team that he’s going to build.”

McPherson says that the flip side of Jordan’s inexperience is because of his youth, is he has passion and excitement. “He’s probably the youngest CAO TR has ever had. It’s a young town, so having someone young with drive is appropriate. When I talk to people like Jim Craven, who helped us with this search, even he says we need young talent. We’ve had enough older guys come up and look at Tumbler Ridge like a place to wind up their career. I want an ideas guy. That’s Jordan.”

In addition to his passion, McPherson says Wall is a local. “It’s a tough place to hire from the outside. When I started on council, most of our hiring was from outside of town. It seemed like the first thing people would do when they got here was figure out how to leave. Jordan grew up here. He has a will to make things work. He wants to see this town work. I’ve worked with him two years and he’s impressed the heck out of me.”

McPherson says the first priority for Wall will be to get his team in place. Second, says McPherson, is to build strong relationships between Council and staff. Finally, he needs, to look at diversifying Tumbler Ridge’s economic base. “We can’t control coal prices, but we can push wind power. A lot of this is the same stuff he’s done as EDO.”

The decision to hire Wall, says McPherson, was a unanimous decision of Council. “We have made this commitment, and we are going to make it work. A lot of people talk about TR being the graveyard for CAOs. A lot of people say that five years is the upper limit for CAO. You’ve drained them of all their talents. But I know some of the communities around here have had long term CAOs, and I’d like to see that with Jordan.”

Wall has started work already, though an official contract has not been signed yet.