After over 10 years working with the District of Clearwater, Leslie Groulx, chief administrative officer, will be retiring on May 28, 2021.
“I have had the opportunity to work with many outstanding staff and elected officials thoughout the years who were and are committed to this community and our citizens,” she said in a media release.
The DOC incorporated in December 2007 and a lot of the services offered by the TNRD became a part of the municipality, such as the Sportsplex, parks and economic development. Groulx worked for the regional district as a services coordinator, and when the opportunity was presented to stay in Clearwater, she took it.
As of Jan. 1, 2008, she worked as the corporate and economic development officer until she took over the CAO position in 2011.
Over the years, Groulx has helped to lead the District through both economic downturn and growth, as well as emergency situations, such as the fires that threatened the region just a few years ago. She has also been essential in obtaining grants that have made Clearwater the town it is today, said Mayor Merlin Blackwell.
“Ms. Groulx in her joint role as CAO and Economic Development Officer has been essential to getting federal and provincial grants that have moved Clearwater forward, making us the envy of many a community with similar issues and similar needs,” he said in the media release.
“(She) is highly respected within the greater local government community, has helped Clearwater build extensive beneficial relationships within the business and government circle, and is a huge part of why Clearwater is seen as a community that gets things done.”
Some highlights of Groulx’s tenure include the recognition of the municipality for four community excellence awards, both provincially and regionally, commercial growth in the district, strong relationshps with all levels of government, as well as Simpcw First Nation, and securing over $24 million in grant funding since inception.
But one project in particular Groulx said she is quite proud of — the $3.1 million in Trans Mountain funding for water system improvements.
“Nothing happens without the support of council and without a team behind you,” Groulx told the Times. “The funding that we got from Trans Mountain was a long process negotiating and that was a huge injection into our community, basically 10 years worth of infrastructure that we would have had to cobble together by grants and (other funds).”
What she feels really proud about is being able to support the placemaking approach to the planning, design and management of public projects and spaces. The approach capitalizes on a community’s assets and potential to create spaces that promote people’s health, happiness and well-being.
When looking at other communities similar to Clearwater, said Groulx, they haven’t been able to keep a grasp on their economies, for various reasons. The DOC, in contrast, has been able to, she added, through diversification of industry and economic focus.
“Another one is the birth of Tourism Wells Gray,” she said, adding the process began in 2005 before the District’s incorporation. “When we incorporated, council supported seed funding for Tourism Wells Gray to get up and running for five years. So, things like that — just being at the same table and really driving those things forward.”
The search for a new CAO is underway, and Groulx admits it will be a challenge. An open mind and ability to think outside the box are assets.
In addition, Clearwater is a forested community, so a strong background and the ability to grapple with wildfire season is also important.
“Planning and development, emergency management and just, I think a real passion for small community,” she added.
Council put out a call for proposals from three recruitment firms in the fall and have engaged the services of a professional recruiting firm to aid in selecting the right fit for the DOC.
Blackwell noted that they’ve so far received an excellent response to date in the process and will conduct interviews in February and complete the hiring process in March.