The soft underbelly of Guelph’s senior management

Late breaking news

Robert Walters, Manager of Development Planning for the City of Guelph resigned on Thursday. In a scathing indictment of management practices including an over-zealous application of urban design issues, Mr. Walters joins a parade of managers who have either been fired or quit in the past year. A veteran of 27 years experience he says he has never seen anything like the dysfunction of city staff.

Here is his letter of resignation that speaks for itself.

December 8, 2011
Jim Riddell
General Manager, Planning and Building Services
City of Guelph
1 Carden Street
Guelph, ON
N1H 3A1

Dear Mr. Riddell:

Re: Resignation
Having served in the position of Manager of Development Planning since July 5th, 2011, I have had an opportunity to become familiar with and manage the City’s Development Planning operations. I have found many levels of dysfunction during this time, some of which we have discussed and which are quite profound in relation to the City’s planning processes. All of these dysfunctions existed long before I arrived as outlined in the attached draft City of Guelph Operational review Issues Scoping Report and relate to poor administrative practices including a lack of quality control, an over=zealous application of urban design issues at the expense of sound land use planning which creates unnecessary conflict inside and with the development industry, and a culture witch does not value inter-departmental team work or customer service. In watching this situation, it continues because of decisions being made and examples being set due to a lack of leadership and action. I 27 years I have seen nothing like it.

I have no confidence that this situation will end so that the City may move forward. As a resident and taxpayer of this municipality, I am especially dismayed. This is a public interest issue.

As such this letter will serve as my resignation from the position of Manager, Development Planning with the City of Guelph, Effective immediately.


Robert Walters B.A., M.PL.
Mayor and Members of Council
Ann Pappert, CAO
Janet Laird, Executive Director PBEE
Guelph Mercury
Guelph Tribune salutes this courageous statement that reveals the soft underbelly of a bloated and dysfunctional civic staff. There is fear of speaking out on the part of many dedicated and responsible members of city staff.

It follows the firing of Chief Financial Officer Margaret Neubaur. Her successor resigned after one week on the job. The Parks Manager was fired recently with no explanation. And now Mr. Walters’ pointed resignation.

The failed leadership in City Hall starts at the top where Mayor Karen Farbridge has molded the staff to do her bidding. And she can do it because she has a majority of councillors since 2007 to fulfill her wishes.

Her dictatorial ways were witnessed just this week overseeing the sleazy dismissal of veteran Councillor Gloria Kovach from the Police Services Board.

When does it stop? When will members of the Farbridge majority start to believe what they are doing to our city?

Guelph needs solid leadership not puppets dancing to the tune crafted by the Mayor and her unelected fellow travelers.

Are we sheep or wolves? It is time to step up and protest.

Like death, the alternative is unattractive.


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