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Face of 1997 flood-fighting efforts being tapped to be Winnipeg's next CAO

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/3/2015 (1561 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The face of Winnipeg’s flood-fighting efforts in 1997 has been tapped to be the city’s new chief administrative officer.

Mayor Brian Bowman said Doug McNeil is being recommended to council to be the top civic administrator.

McNeil is “someone who has among the most depth when it comes to massive infrastructure projects in Manitoba,” Bowman told reporters Wednesday. “He has over three decades of public service experience, working for both the city of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba and I believe he is a candidate who will really bring a greater level of openness and transparency, as well as accountability here at city hall.”

McNeil was a senior engineer with the city’s water and waste department when he was picked by former mayor Susan Thompson to explain the city’s efforts in what became known as “The Flood of The Century.”

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/3/2015 (1561 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The face of Winnipeg’s flood-fighting efforts in 1997 has been tapped to be the city’s new chief administrative officer.

Mayor Brian Bowman said Doug McNeil is being recommended to council to be the top civic administrator.

Doug McNeil, then deputy minister of Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, speaks at a flood outlook news conference in 2014.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Doug McNeil, then deputy minister of Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, speaks at a flood outlook news conference in 2014.

McNeil is "someone who has among the most depth when it comes to massive infrastructure projects in Manitoba," Bowman told reporters Wednesday. "He has over three decades of public service experience, working for both the city of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba and I believe he is a candidate who will really bring a greater level of openness and transparency, as well as accountability here at city hall."

McNeil was a senior engineer with the city’s water and waste department when he was picked by former mayor Susan Thompson to explain the city’s efforts in what became known as "The Flood of The Century."

McNeil later moved to the Manitoba Floodway Authority and most recently was deputy minister of the infrastructure and transportation department.

Council will vote on McNeil’s appointment at its March 25 meeting. If approved, he’ll be on the job April 7.

McNeil has a tough task ahead of him. Officially, he succeeds Phil Sheegl – the long-time friend of former mayor Sam Katz, who quit in mid-October, 2013, days before the release of a damning audit that linked him to much of the mismanagement of the fire hall replacememtn program.

Sheegl would be tied to further mismanagement in two more audits, on the police headquarters project and another that examined 33 civic property deals over a five-year period.

Veteran city employee Deepak Joshi was appointed on an interim basis to replace Sheegl but he too was criticized for his links to Sheegl. Bowman suspended Joshi in January, claiming he had lost confidence in him. Joshi later resigned before council had to decide whether to re-instate him or terminate him.

Various civic departments have been criticized for ignoring council directives and withholding information from council. Former mayoral candidate David Sanders repeatedly accuses the senior administration of outright deception and incompetence.

It will be McNeil’s job to restore council and the public’s trust in the senior administration and that will likely mean changing directors and other senior officials.

Coun. Matt Allard, a member of the CAO search committee, said McNeil was a unanimous recommendation.

"I think he’s a great pick," Allard said. "I think he will bring a lot of optimism and experience," to city hall.

Coun. Ross Eadie said he looks favourably on McNeil’s appointment but added Bowman should have called a council seminar to brief all members of council about who was on the short list and why McNeil came out on top.

Bowman said the city received almost 150 applications for the position after the search was renewed following the October civic election.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

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History

Updated on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 4:08 PM CDT: Updated with comments

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