The County of Haliburton has a new CAO.
After more than eight years at the helm, Mike Rutter is retiring and his replacement, Gary Dyke, has been announced.
Rutter told The Highlander this week, “it has been a privilege. I grew up here watching local politics. I’ve always been fascinated by local politics. My mother worked in the business and so I saw that. And I have loved being the CAO here. I really, really have.”
Rutter said early in his career, he realized the job was not about him, but taking councils as far and as fast as they wanted to go. “I feel like I have met their expectations, or at least I hope I have in that regard.”
He said he had no regrets, although there were projects he would have liked to have seen progress further and faster. He cites public transportation and the service delivery review as examples.
However, he said there are exciting things in the works.
“The work is never done, so there’s never a perfect time to step away.”
He hinted at a partnership to redevelop the Wee Care property in Haliburton that may have some housing and daycare benefits. However, he said there were still some closed session items scheduled for the Nov. 8 meeting. He expects the news to go public at the next meeting or the one after that.
He is also keen about communal servicing giving a boost to housing, particularly in rural areas.
Rutter said he does not find it frustrating working with councillors. Rather, he finds it an interesting challenge to get to know politicians and what makes them tick.
As for the future, Rutter said he has had interesting conversations about board work.
“It’s no secret we need to do more in the housing area. I love some of the more social issues things… and so maybe I can help make a difference coming at it from a different perspective rather than from this seat. The nice thing about this job is we are involved in so many different things. You see the challenges in workforce development and health care, in housing and there’s all kinds of volunteer opportunities.’
He said he’s also had talks about interim CAO work. With 32 years experience, he said he could help with transitions.
For now, he may do some volunteer work with his daughter and spend some time with family.
County warden Liz Danielsen said the County had been “extremely fortunate” to have Rutter manage its affairs for the past 8.5 years.
“Born and bred in Haliburton, Mike has truly always had our best interests at heart.
“He has guided us through a number of contentious issues and challenges over the past two terms, including, but not limited to, the shoreline preservation bylaw, the draft short-term rental bylaw as well as the ongoing service delivery review,” Danielsen said.
She added, “aside from his outstanding work ethic and attention to detail, Mike has been a pleasure to work with, and will be missed by all. We wish Mike well in his retirement and what will likely be his future endeavours once he has had a well-deserved sabbatical from municipal affairs.
Danielsen also announced Dyke as Rutter’s successor.
She said he has more than 30 years experience in the municipal field, holding senior roles with a focus on operations, strategic planning, and legislative services.
Dyke has served on the board of directors for the Ontario Municipal Administrators’ Association (OMAA) for 10 years, as president from 2017-2018; the AMO board of directors as secretary-treasurer 2020 – 2022; the International City Managers Association (ICMA) ethics committee; and as a municipal advisor to the World Council on City Data.
“We are fortunate to have Gary join our team as the new CAO. His demonstrated commitment to community services, municipal efficiencies, organizational skills, and proven successes as a leader will serve our community well,” the warden said.