THE official heading up Winnipeg city hall’s internal probe into its building inspections division is resigning.
Robert Kirby, the city’s manager of labour relations, tendered his resignation effective May 24.
Winnipeg chief administrative officer Doug McNeil sent an email to members of council and senior administrators Thursday morning, ahead of the start of the council meeting, informing them Kirby has taken a position in a different province.
Kirby was tasked earlier this month to lead the internal probe into the allegations of troubling workplace behaviour of some city building inspectors. McNeil said he believes Kirby will be able to complete the probe before he leaves.
"In regards to the staff investigations, the initial investigations are near completion, and we are confident that Robert will be able to conclude this work before his departure and that staff in his division will be able to deliver on any next steps," McNeil stated in his email.
Kirby started at the city in December 2016, after spending four years in senior positions with the Rural Municipality of Wood Buffalo in Fort McMurray, Alta., including director of the departments of transit and public works, and manager of labour and employee relations.
Before that, Kirby had been in Halifax, where, according to his profile on LinkedIn, he operated limousine and janitorial services, acted as a labour relations consultant and had a brief stint with the RM of Halifax as the supervisor of employee services.
Kirby led negotiations with several civic unions upon his arrival in Winnipeg, where he rankled union officials with what they publicly described as an unnecessary and unwelcome hard-nosed approach that antagonized much of the unionized civic workforce, including police, firefighters, middle managers and most front-line workers.
Negotiations in early 2017 with the city’s largest union, CUPE 500, had soured to the point where the union filed a complaint with the Manitoba Labour Board, alleging city hall had been bargaining in bad faith.
Despite the rancour, however, Kirby was able to secure collective agreements without any labour stoppages.
Before the internal probe, Kirby had been handling negotiations with the city’s transit union. McNeil said those negotiations could be completed before Kirby leaves.
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.
Updated on Friday, April 26, 2019 at 9:09 AM CDT: Final