Huge shake-up at Surrey City Hall

The City of Surrey is embarking on a massive overhaul, as departments within the municipality are being completely reorganized, Postdeadline has learned.

Postdeadline has received a copy of a confidential memo sent to all City of Surrey departments regarding the changes within the organization.

The March 15 notice from Surrey City Manager Vincent Lalonde indicates Surrey will create a Department of Corporate Services, which will oversee legal services, human resources and information technology.

“The role will focus on aligning and optimizing the work of various teams that support the overall core deliverables of the city,” Lalonde writes in the memo.

In addition, Surrey will be creating a position for Director, Strategic Initiatives and Corporate Reporting.

This department will be responsible for ensuring “select strategic initiatives” that span multiple departments are delivered smoothly and effectively.

“This person will ensure consistent and timely corporate reporting across departments and appropriate data gathering in support of  evidence-based decision making,” Lalonde says.

The reorganization comes as the city works to adapt to the huge losses, including that of Surrey’s long-time GM of Finance, Information and Technology Vivienne Wilke, who upon leaving, must have needed a U-Haul for the financial awards she won for the city.

Suzanne Fillion is continuing excellent work with the budgeting processes, but Wilke’s absence leaves a huge void.

The memo also talks about the imminent retirement of HR director Nicola Webb, another big hit to the city’s brain trust.

When hired, the Director of Corporate Services will oversee Webb’s replacement.

Perhaps most indicative of the city’s future direction is the new responsibilities of Director of Public Safety, Dr. Terry Waterhouse. He will now oversee bylaw and licensing services, and Jas Rehal, formerly Manager of Bylaw Enforcement, will now be named to a new role of Manager, Public Safety Operations.

This is in keeping with the city’s new direction of using bylaw officers in a broader role, assisting police. The use of bylaw officers in this role has been done before, most notably in 2003, but this is the first time the department has actually been folded into a public safety role.

In the face of such big management losses, Surrey most likely had to make some administrative adjustments.

How these new alignments work out will work can only be determined when the new structure is fully rolled out and key positions are filled.

The roles of General Manager, Engineering, Fire Chief, General Manager, Planning and Development, General Manager, Parks Recreation & Culture, and General Manager, Investment & Intergovernmental Relations will be largely unchanged

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