New CAO Takes Up Position in City Hall

Credit: Kristi Dobson
Tim Pley takes over the office of former City Manager Ken Watson and is up to the challenge of his new career move.
Kristi Dobson

When Tim Pley stepped into his new position as Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Port Alberni in July, he was ready for a change and a challenge. He believes he has received both and is looking forward to working in collaboration with the City Councillors and staff.

As Port Alberni’s fire chief for the past eight years, Tim was anticipating a career change, as he rounded out the typical shelf life for the position, but did not expect it to happen as soon as it did.

“I had been working with Ken Watson for the last couple of years as a mentor, so I was mindful of the type of work and the changes the work would involve,” Tim said.

He is proud of his past accomplishments with the Port Alberni Fire Department and is confident of the transferable skills he brings to City Hall.

“I probably did everything I set out to do there,” Tim said. “In almost every respect, the fire department is better in operations than it was eight years ago. The officers are better in the field, the response times are more efficient and the budget did not escalate as it did in other cities.”

He said now, most of his work will be behind the scenes, as the position is responsible for helping to bring the Council’s vision to fruition by working with the staff to determine financial and work plans.

“The staff is so diverse,” he said. “There are people who teach kids how to swim to people who work with the roads and infrastructure.”

As president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of British Columbia, Tim is used to working with the dynamics of a Board of Directors and and a wide range of stakeholders. Locally, he secured working relations with the Port Alberni Port Authority for the fire boat, with the First Nations and with North Island College to establish training programs in Port Alberni and on the West Coast.

Tim’s hope is that the next person to fill the boots of the fire chief brings the same passion and commitment.

“We need somebody who is a team builder and who will continue the work we have done regionally in the Valley and take it forward,” he said.

Tim said so far the biggest challenge has been timely and accurate communication, but plans are underway to address that. Jake Martins, deputy city clerk, has recently been assigned as social media coordinator.

“We have a responsibility to react to the new realty with social media,” he said. “We need to respond proactively rather than after things happen.

The most recent example is that of the new bike lanes on city streets. The concept had been approved several times by Council before the councillors had been award of any layout plans.

“They were expecting to review the layout first prior to implementation, but the grant came in, the project was approved and the contractors were ready to go,” Tim said. “They are not the designers but they have the right to be informed so we stopped the lanes at Morton Street pending Monday’s council meeting.”

The meeting takes place August 8 at 7pm at the council chambers.