Town of Irricana Mayor Jim Bryson has announced the municipality has hired a new chief administrative officer (CAO) to serve as the Town’s top-tier executive overseeing daily operations, effective Oct. 24.
Doug Hafichuk, who was born and raised in Crossfield, will bring to the position more than 20 years of private and public sector experience in engineering, infrastructure, and operations.
Hafichuk previously served as manager of capital projects for Rocky View County. He has also held various roles supporting the provincial government and other Alberta municipalities.
“Doug is a very personable individual. He’s from the area, which is very advantageous as far as I’m concerned,” Mayor Bryson said in an interview. “He’s well known and [he’s] very excited to come back into the private sector – he's very familiar with dealing with the public.
“He’s a bit of a problem solver. He understands budgeting, which is a huge issue for municipalities.”
Bryson added Hafichuk’s problem-solving skills will lend themselves well to sorting out the municipality’s capital budget, which he said is often a large task for many small towns.
"I think he’s going to excel immensely. All of council pretty much feels the same way,” he added.
According to Bryson, the CAO answers to Town council, creates policies and bylaws, and ensures administrative employees execute council’s wishes.
“[The CAO] runs the Town, every aspect of it. He delegates different things to staff and he is the only employee council has,” Bryson said, adding all other employees in the Town work for the CAO.
“It’s a very challenging job. It’s a very intense job, [and] it’s a very important job.”
In the Town press release, Hafichuk said he is incredibly excited to join the Town of Irricana’s workforce.
“It’s a privilege to serve the public and I’m incredibly grateful for council’s support and the opportunity to lead a devoted administrative team,” Hafichuk said.
“I’m looking forward to building strong, collaborative relationships with council and our residents, as well as our regional and provincial partners.”
Municipal employee Corinne Newman most recently filled the chief administrative position temporarily after the unexpected passing of interim CAO Barrie Hutchinson on Sept. 3.
Bryson said council wants to thank Newman for her “commendable service” to Irricana over the last several weeks.
“Speaking on behalf of council, I must say the Town really benefited from Newman’s steady and experienced professionalism over the past number of months,” Bryson said in the press statement.“We’re very appreciative for her dedicated service to the community.”
He added in an interview that Newman was a “godsend” for the Town, bringing her prior experience and professionalism to the table following Hutchinson’s passing.
“It was a devastating blow. [Barry] was a personal friend of mine before he accepted the position,” Bryson said of Hutchinson's passing, which followed a short battle with cancer.
“He was helping us out and he did an absolutely fantastic job. Doug has some pretty big shoes to fill and I’m sure he’s going to fill them just fine.”
Bryson added the Town’s administration staff are also equipped and knowledgeable to help ease the transition. Furthermore, council is prepared to have a positive working relationship with Hafichuk going forward.
“I think the council and Doug are going to have a great relationship,” he said, adding Hafichuk attended the Town’s last council meeting to get a first taste of what to expect.
“He’s well aware of the issues in Town and I think all of council and Doug are going to get along just great. I think the Town will begin to move forward after losing our CAO, Barry Hutchinson,” Bryson concluded.