Thorsby Council voted unanimously to appoint Jason Gariepy as the new Town Manager in a special council meeting held on Tuesday, February 18.
Gariepy brings to the office experience as a two-term Strathcona County councillor. He is a public relations instructor at Grant MacEwan University. He holds a BA in Political Science at Concordia University College of Alberta where he served as President of the Students’ Association, an MA in Communications and Technology, and is currently pursuing a second Masters degree in Public Administration. He is also a director for PivotWest which offers businesses and organizations services in marketing & communications, business development, and media relations.
Thorsby has been without a full time CAO since June, 2013. Council contracted with the management firm Transitional Solutions to supply the service of interim CAO Kevin Robbins to work alongside acting CAO Christine Burke and to provide a transition from the former CAO to new CAO to ensure the business of the Municipality continues. It listened to Council’s issues and concerns and acted. Through discussions with Council, it is apparent the village needs economic development.
Trans solutions found in Gariepy someone who is passionate about economic growth. Understanding the importance of a sustainable, viable community growth, Councillor Taylor said, “The CAO will take that and make it happen. It is exciting.”
Councillor Hart also is confident that Gariepy has the “skills we need.” “We’ve never blown our own horn. He brings that communication skill. Already, he has cleaned up the logo on our website. Hart hopes the residents “give him a chance.”
Councillor Jardine added Gariepy will also make the website more user friendly.
Councillor Ruhr linked Gariepy’s positive personality with the potential for making positive changes within the community. “We saw that in the interview process. Residents asked for change and we’re here to do that.”
Transitional Solutions also assisted in the vetting process narrowing the original five candidates all presenting council packages down to three individuals (one candidate withdrew for medical reasons). Candidates were asked to respond to a scenario designed by Transitional Solutions. Mayor Barry Rasch stated the reason Jason Gariepy was hired—“It’s what he brought to the table, his professional background, and his responses to the two hour interview.”
Village of Thorsby Corporate Services Manager, Christine Burke, indicated Transitional Solutions will stay on to ensure vital information exchange so Gariepy can hit the ground running.
Transitional Solution’s Senior Executive, Donna Tona confirmed they will stay on about four to six months to make it easier for the new CAO and new Council. “It will be easier for the residents and administration, also.”
Following the announcement, Mayor Rasch responded to a resident’s concern that residents weren’t included in the selection process, Mayor Rasch replied it is Council’s full responsibility to search and select a CAO and that the process doesn’t happen with public knowledge. The resident acknowledged this as correct.
What is Gariepy bringing to the table? In his own words, “Council priority is my priority. A CAO doesn’t go off in [his or her] own direction. Through the interview process, I know about the stagnant growth. I’d like to see emphasis on attracting industry, commerce, and mixed housing—rental, townhouse, apartment style, and affordable housing.” Gariepy sees economic development as a priority and would like to work with developers to attract investment in Thorsby.
He also commented on the tax concerns. “We want to run an effective municipality. Tax issues are a concern. We need to show residents value for their tax dollar—what do I get for my tax dollar—the sticker shock shows.”
“For a town of less than a thousand people, Thorsby has extraordinary facilities—a state of the art water treatment plant, a new elementary school, a major employer, and an RCMP detachment. All the foundational elements are there for Thorsby to take off. My role is to watch the budget, work with economic development and tell Thorsby’s story.”