October 19th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 41
Municipality welcomes new CAO
Community’s first-ever female CAO comes to the position with a strong resume
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black Photo
Municipality’s new Chief Administrative Officer, Lorrie O’Brien, pictured centre, begins work on November 2.
Pass Herald Reporter
There is a changing of the guard at the community’s chief administrative position with the exit of a hardworking army man and the entrance of the first-ever female to hold the job.

Lorrie O’Brien is the community’s new CAO. She is the first woman to hold the job since the communities of Coleman, Blairmore, Bellevue, Hillcrest, and Frank amalgamated to form the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass in 1979.

She was selected from 31 applicants and brings a wealth of experience to the position.

The native of Peterborough, Ontario has been working for municipal governments in Alberta and Ontario for almost 30 years.

“My family and I are very excited to have Crowsnest Pass be our new home,” O’Brien told council on Oct. 11. “I think there’s lots to be proud of here. It’s a hidden gem.”

For the last five years she served as the general manager of Municipal Services for the Town of Canmore where she oversaw the development of Elevation Place, a multi-use facility complete with an aquatics centre, climbing wall and weight room.

She was also on the job when Canmore hosted World Cup biathlon and cross-country skiing events early this year.

In Ontario she held senior positions in the areas of governance, policy development and municipal service delivery for two other municipalities.
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She has a bachelor of recreation administration degree from the University of Waterloo and is completing her Master of Business Administration from Royal Roads University. She also trained at the University of Western’s Masters of Public Administration program.

“The hiring of Ms. O’Brien to the permanent position of [CAO] is a positive step for the Crowsnest Pass,” said Mayor Blair Painter. “Council looks forward to working closely with Ms. O’Brien moving forward.”

O’Brien is replacing outgoing CAO Sheldon Steinke who has been serving the Pass since December 2013 when he replaced Myron Thompson, another administrative chief.

Steinke got his first job in municipal government in 1973 as an assistant administrator for the County of 40 Mile, southwest of Medicine Hat.

Steinke, his wife Elaine and their two children would later move to Lethbridge where he served as a county manager. He even found the time to join the 20th Independent Field Battery Army Reserve where he was promoted from a junior officer to the rank of major and then battery commander.

In 1996, Steinke moved to Coaldale for a nine-year stint as their CAO. In 2005 he retired from Coaldale’s municipal government and moved to Crowsnest Pass but about three years ago the newly elected council was in need of a seasoned administrator so he took the job.

As Crowsnest CAO, Steinke has been facing the challenge of weighing the benefits of services to their costs.

“Services always have to be evaluated from the point of view of cost, operational need and effectiveness for the residents,” he said.
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“In 2013 the majority of council members were new to local government challenges and I hope in some small way I have been able to assist council and the community in tackling the challenges ahead,” said Steinke. “I am very happy I was able to assist my municipality over the last three years in dealing with the challenges of improving the decisions to allow the municipality to continue to provide services to the residents and identify the advantages in long term planning of capital projects and realigning operational requirements.”

At a council meeting on Oct. 11, Steinke joked he’d be going fishing during his retirement but in fact he has accepted a three-year appointment with the Municipal Government Board.

The Municipal Government Board is an independent and impartial quasi-judicial board established under the Municipal Government Act to make decisions about land planning and assessment matters.

Steinke’s new job will involve a lot of traveling throughout the province to deal with legal disputes about annexation, land planning matters and disputes between municipalities.
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October 19th ~ Vol. 85 No. 41
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