Whistler's CAO search ends with Mike Furey

Former deputy minister to come from Victoria

After weeks of searching for a new chief administrative officer (CAO), the RMOW announced this week that Mike Furey has been hired for the job.

Most recently serving as assistant deputy minister with the Ministry of Community, Sports and Cultural Development for the provincial government, Furey will assume his new role as municipal CAO starting Sept. 12.

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"He likes to tell us that he took the reverse path - most people start with the municipal government and move up to the federal level, but he started at the federal level and has worked his way down to the municipal level," Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed said of Furey.

"I get the sense that he likes being more hands-on and I think he's looking forward to some of the fewer constraints at the municipal level. We have more flexibility, you can get closer with the community and within the confines of the (Community Charter) you can do a little more."

When reached for a comment, Furey told The Question by email, "I am looking forward to taking on the position of chief administrative officer at Whistler and my wife and our two children are thrilled to move to such a beautiful community."

Furey's past experience also includes a stint as deputy minister for the Province's Treaty Negotiation Office, while he also served as senior negotiator with the federal Treaty Negotiation Office and director and national director of strategic policy for the department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in Ottawa.

It's Furey's past work with aboriginal groups that Melamed and the rest of council found to be a key feature of his résumé.

"Obviously this was one of the criteria that council was very interested in. It's part of the changing landscape, the new reality in British Columbia, is aboriginal relations, so Mr. Furey had a really interesting profile," said Melamed.

Melamed also noted that Furey worked on the Additional Hotel Room Tax initiative while with the Province - another experience that brings skills to the CAO position.

"It's great to have somebody now working for us who understands how these decisions are made and how these processes are arrived at with the Province," said Melamed. "There are some issues that I could potentially see (Furey) having a more active role with and that's the signing of the RMI (resort municipality initiative). It's high on our priority list and it's something that we'd like to address this fall."

Melamed wouldn't reveal who else was in the running for the position, or if any local candidates or current municipal employees were considered, but he said the process to select the CAO was complex and challenging.

"It was a very difficult decision," said Melamed. "We had outstanding candidates and Caldwell Partners really did a phenomenal job. The first thing that council did was sit down with Caldwell and develop a profile about what qualifications this candidate should have."

After finding enough suitable candidates and short listing the number down to 12, Melamed said council then began conducting interviews.

"I can say that I think each one of (the candidates) could have fulfilled the role at the municipality, so good was Caldwell's adherence to the profile that we had established," said Melamed. "Within that I think it's important to note and one of the interests that council wanted to cover was a wide diversity of candidates. We had very diverse backgrounds of individuals. All qualified from different backgrounds from different sectors."

Melamed also declined to reveal Furey's starting salary, but he said it's not the same amount as outgoing CAO Bill Barratt, who made $208,674 in 2010.

Furey will make the move to Whistler from Victoria in the coming weeks. Barratt's last day on the job was July 5 and municipal general manager Bob MacPherson is serving as interim CAO.

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