City of Revelstoke Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture Kerry Dawson gathered staff together at the community centre on Dec. 14 to announce she was resigning in order to take a new job in Morinville, Alta.
Dawson had been at the job for just under two years.
In a telephone interview Thursday afternoon, Dawson explained she had accepted a new position as a director for community services in Morinville, a small town just outside of Edmonton. She described the position as, “one I couldn’t turn down. Alberta is my home province.”
“I will miss Revelstoke,” Dawson said. “The people have been absolutely awesome.”
City of Revelstoke Chief Administrative Officer Tim Palmer confirmed the resignation on Thursday morning. Dawson is leaving for vacation on Friday and will not return following her vacation.
Palmer said the city soon expected to formally announce that Laurie Donato, Manager of Development Services in the city planning department, will be taking over for Dawson in the interim. Palmer explained that Donato had already filled in for Dawson during vacations, and that she has some recreation and management background.
“We didn’t know that [Dawson] was going to be resigning yesterday,” Palmer told the Times Review. “She’s pursuing some other opportunities and we definiately wish her well on her new endeavours.
“It was Kerry’s decision to resign,” he added.
In addition to pushing for an increased role for cultural activities within the department’s mandate, Dawson also worked to increase energy efficiency at the community centre, aquatic centre and the Revelstoke Forum. The city did complete a retrofit at the pool to install a heat exchanger. She also emphasized the need for restructuring in the department.
Dawson said she was proud of work to restructure the way the department operated, including overhauling procedures and the strategic plan. She brought on a programming staff member who focused on recreation programs. She said the department had revised many job descriptions. A new Facebook page added to other marketing work, such as a redesigned recreation brochure. The department also started using online surveys to solicit feedback from community members. “We did accomplish the new structure,” Dawson said.
A program she’d like to see continue are periodical supervise ‘shop and drop’ nights that allow parents to drop kids off at the pool in the evening.
Dawson took on the job as Parks and Recreation director in January of 2010.
She came to the job with close to 20 years experience working at sports and recreation facilities in Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Prior to arriving in Revelstoke, she was working as the director of arts and culture and developing an arts centre in Red Deer, Alta. She holds a degree in recreation administration from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, where she grew up.
Before entering into administration, she completed a post-graduate degree in education.
In an interview with the Times Review shortly after she arrived, Dawson explained arts was one of her passions and is part of what attracted her to the job.
“It’s something I want to work towards getting totally involved in in this community,” she said. “During my interview I spoke all about the arts. My understanding is there’s tremendous opportunities to develop new facilities.”
While here, Dawson changed the title of her position to add “Culture” to the title, making the position the Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture. She also worked with the community on the city’s culture master plan, which was a parallel process to the ongoing Parks, Recreation master plan. The latter was slated to proceed to public hearing in November, but was bumped from council’s agenda. At the time, city councillor Chris Johnston told the Times Review the hearing had been delayed and would happen after the new council was in place.
Is the city planning to hire a new Parks, Recreation or Culture director? “Having just learned of this yesterday, we’ll be assessing it, but we’re very pleased that Laurie’s willing to take that in an interim position,” CAO Tim Palmer said.
He explained the city’s planning department had been involved in the parks planning process, including interim director Donato. They would be able to continue on with those processes.
CAO Palmer thanked Donato for taking on the position in the interim. “I’m particularly pleased that Laurie has shown the flexibility and enthusiasm to take on the leadership with parks and recreation,” Palmer said. “We’re really looking forward to her helping out in that area as an interim director. I think that’s going to be a really positive thing for the community. She’s a long-standing community member, knows people, [and] has a very good demeanour.”
Dawson took over the position from long-serving parks and recreation director Alan Chell, who was in the position for 28 years.