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Town re-aligns and re-names tourism division after staff retirement

Updated: Jan 9

The Town of Amherstburg has renamed and realigned its tourism department after the retirement of its manager.

According to a report from CAO Valerie Critchley, manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota retired Dec. 31 and that “provides the opportunity to review the structure of the division and its overall placement in the corporate organizational structure.” 

The tourism and culture division fell under the parks, facilities, recreation and culture (PFRC) portfolio with that having included Rota and three co-ordinators.

“When a key staff member leaves an organization, it is always an opportunity to review the organizational structure and to review possible paths of succession in the organization giving consideration to the attributes of the current members of the team,” Critchley stated in her report. “Such a review serves to make the best use of the skills, experience, and institutional knowledge of internal staff members while ensuring that the organizational structure reflects the current and future needs of the corporation.”

Critchley advised the portfolio will shift from PFRC, led by director Heidi Baillargeon, to the development services department, led by director/deputy CAO Melissa Osbourne. The CAO stated the PFRC department has four reporting divisions, “which is more than any other director in the structure.” 

“Of the four reporting divisions, parks, is one that continually has multiple ongoing projects and areas which require focus and attention due to its public facing nature. As we move forward, the facilities division will be taking on an even greater role in the corporation as we work through the completion of the corporate space needs study, updating the facilities assessment study and presenting council with the overall strategic plan for municipal facilities in the Town,” stated Critchley. “The recreation division is also extremely busy as the community returns to a pre-pandemic state and we look to expand much needed recreational programming for all age levels.”

Critchley said tourism and culture is “a key component” of Amherstburg as it assisting in “promoting the town, its attractions and events to residents and visitors but also in supporting and executing local events, which assist the current business community and help to make Amherstburg an attractive place for economic development and investment.”

The town is also focusing on growth and expansion of economic development, said the CAO. Critchley added Osborne was hired “with a view to growing the economic development area and in 2023, council approved the creation of the position of economic development and communications officer.” The latter position is filled by Jen Ibrahim.

“As we proceed to define the town’s business retention and expansion program there is a strong likelihood that tourism efforts will overlap with the BR&E program blurring the lines between the two divisions, which currently report under two different directors,” stated Critchley.

Critchley stated “it is clear that there are strong synergies between these two

divisions.” Rota’s retirement “has created an opportunity to consider whether changes to support the town’s economic development direction should be examined.” 

“In fact, prior to 2016, tourism and culture was part of a portfolio which was then named ‘Economic & Community Development’ and was comprised of the building, planning, tourism and economic development areas - which is the same make-up of the propose Development Services Department.” 

The division will be re-named the economic development and tourism division and the manager position will be re-named, she added.

“Over the next eight to nine months the director, along with the manager, will assess the various economic development demands and initiatives considering how all of the positions under the manager can be best utilized to achieve a more holistic approach to economic development, inclusive of the tourism activities but not exclusive to them as is currently structured,” said Critchley.

The CAO added: “With any departure of a key staff member comes the opportunity to review the organizational structure of the corporation. This re-alignment supports a structure which will make the best use of current staff resources to support the tourism and culture and the economic development areas.”

Council received Critchley’s report without discussion.

By Ron Giofu

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