Huron East CAO Brad Knight to retire after over 37 years in municipal work
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
After over 37 years in municipal public service, Huron East Chief Administrative Officer Brad Knight will be retiring later this year.
Knight had submitted a document signifying his intent to retire to the municipality’s personnel committee and it was made official in a closed-to-the-public session at Huron East Council’s April 6 meeting. Knight’s time with the municipality will end on June 30.
Mayor Bernie MacLellan has indicated that the municipality has already enlisted the services of consultant Nigel Bellchamber to fill find someone to fill the position, though Knight has informed the municipality that he will be happy to assist in the transition after June 30 if necessary.
Knight began his municipal career with the County of Perth and the Town of Mitchell approximately 37 years ago. He moved on to Grey Township after just over a year in Mitchell, working there until amalgamation in 2001 when he earned the position of treasurer with the newly-established Huron East.
With Huron East, he served under Chief Administrative Officer Jack McLachlan, until just over 10 years ago, when McLachlan retired and Knight replaced him as the municipality’s chief administrative officer.
In an interview with The Citizen, MacLellan said the entire council is going to miss Knight. He said Knight put so much of himself into the job that it was common to find Knight working over the weekend or well into the evening. MacLellan also said that Knight applied his own sensibilities to the job, treating the municipality’s money as if it was his own when purchases needed to be made.
MacLellan said he and Knight often found themselves on the same page on issues, especially in the last year or so, as the municipality worked to battle through the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping employees and residents safe, while providing as many services as the municipality could.
Knight’s retirement was unexpected, MacLellan said, but on the other hand, he said he certainly didn’t begrudge Knight for deciding to call it a career. Had Knight wanted to move on to another municipal position, MacLellan said, he certainly would have provided the highest of recommendations, adding that he wishes Knight well in the next chapter of his life.
As far as Knight’s legacy, MacLellan said you didn’t have to look much further than the amount of development happening in the municipality in the last year or two. He said the municipality has taken a “big step forward” in regards to development and Knight has been instrumental in that.
“We’re building more houses right now in Huron East than we have in the last 10 years,” MacLellan said, alluding to a number of additional projects that are enriching the municipality thanks to Knight’s hard work and dedication.
In an interview with The Citizen, Knight said he had begun seriously considering retirement just before Christmas of 2020. However, not wanting to bog the municipality down over the holidays and with another provincial lockdown on the horizon, he put the idea on the back burner.
Knight had wanted to provide six months’ notice so the municipality could find a replacement, but a personal loss resulted in another delay and he felt it was finally time in April, giving Huron East three months.
However, he said, with the COVID-19 pandemic still very active in the province, he said it’s not as if he will be travelling very far, so he has made himself available to the municipality into July and beyond to ensure a smooth transition.
Reflecting on his time in the municipal world, Knight said he feels Huron East has truly benefited from stability over the past 20 years with many long-term employees dedicating their professional lives to the community.
Growing up in Grey Township and neighbouring Brussels, but attending high school in Seaforth, Knight said he had a great feel for the municipality his whole life, which is likely what led to the staff’s approach to Huron East. While some councillors may have been hung up on the wards and their borders, he said the staff never did and truly did their work in a way that was always trying to do the best for all of Huron East.
Looking back, Knight said he is proud of many projects that have gone ahead in Huron East, so much so that it’s hard to pick just one. But, he said the municipality, especially in its rural wards, looks a lot different than it did 20 years ago.
Many projects take time, he said. Looking at a road allowance that will be opening soon, allowing a second access to the hospital in Seaforth, he said that is a project that began 11 or 12 years ago.
In retirement, Knight said he hopes to make up for some lost time and travel, once the pandemic has subsided, while also spending more time with his family.
Knight will sit down with The Citizen for a full look back at his nearly 40 years in the municipal world this summer when his time with Huron East officially comes to a close.