McRoberts begins work as new Huron East CAO
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Brad McRoberts is now hard at work in his new role as the chief administrative officer of Huron East with a full slate of projects to tackle in the future.
McRoberts began his time with the municipality just over two weeks ago, taking over for Brad Knight, who had been in the position for a decade before retiring after a 37-year municipal career with the bulk of his time spent in Grey Township and Huron East.
McRoberts spent his first week at his new job working alongside Knight, which McRoberts said was a nice luxury that isn’t always afforded to people when they start a new job. Now, with his first council meeting under his belt, McRoberts is ready to begin his work with the municipality.
Huron East Council made the move official in late May, naming McRoberts the successful applicant, triumphing over more than 30 others who sought the job.
The search for a new chief administrative officer began with a selection committee, which included Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan and Councillors Dianne Diehl and John Lowe. Council enlisted the services of consultant Nigel Bellchamber, who conducted the search.
McRoberts was born west of Toronto and grew up in the Grimsby area before he studied Civil Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He then began work with a local engineering firm. The job would eventually take him to the Maritimes, working in Nova Scotia for a number of years before returning to Ontario.
It was there that McRoberts entered the municipal sector after many years working privately. Along the way he would earn his Master’s Degree in Public Administration specializing in local government from the University of Western Ontario.
In the municipal sector, McRoberts said he really found his passion. As an environmental engineer, he said many projects could take decades to complete. In the municipal sector, he could see more projects through from inception to completion, which, as an engineer, appealed to him.
He began working in the public sector in 2007 as the manager of public works for the Town of South Bruce Peninsula.
From there, he worked with Owen Sound, first as its manager of special capital projects from 2009 to 2011 and then as director of operations from 2011 to 2014.
He then moved on to the Township of Mapleton as its director of public works from 2014 to 2015 before being named its acting chief administrative officer for five months before serving as the chief administrative officer from 2015 to 2017.
McRoberts then returned to the Township of South Bruce Peninsula in 2017 as its chief administrative officer before taking on the new position with Huron East.
He says he was attracted to the job in Huron East because he enjoyed rural communities with a mix of sectors, like rural and smaller urban communities. McRoberts says he saw it as a great opportunity.
While he has only been on the job for a few weeks, with one council meeting completed virtually, McRoberts says he is pleased with what he has seen so far and is eager to learn more.
“[Huron East Council] sounds like a council that cares about their community,” adding that the municipal staff has given him the first impression of being very dedicated and thorough.
As far as the future goes, McRoberts says that one of the first projects he aims to tackle is the development of a strategic plan and a process through which to get it accepted and approved by council. This, he said, is a long-term project and one that council has been wanting to work on for a number of years.
The implementation of a new communication plan, he said, to improve outreach into the community is another likely project as he gets started, McRoberts said.
Further down the road, McRoberts said he’d like to implement some policies where he feels they may be lacking, though he says he’ll be careful not to create a policy-burdened environment.
As for his week spent with Knight learning the ropes in Huron East, McRoberts said it was nice to have that passing of the torch, which is a rarity in today’s world. Not only did Knight help familiarize McRoberts with current projects on the go, but they were able to tour the municipality and see facilities and projects to help McRoberts get the lay of the land.