The senior administrative officer will now be referred to as “city manager” after council updated the bylaw that governs the city’s chief executive, Monday night. 

Yellowknife senior administrative officer Sheila Bassi-Kellett will now go by the title city manager. NNSL file photo

The issue stemmed from a staff memo that came to the governance and priorities committee meeting on Feb. 15 calling for the first update to the bylaw since 1991. 

Over the last year, the city has undergone a high-level policy and governance review of council and staff operations by consultant George Cuff of Alberta-based George B. Cuff and Associates Ltd. Among those recommendations included a review of committees and their usefulness and how city staff can get the most out of their meetings.

The Senior Administrative Officer Bylaw speaks to the city manager’s role in advising council; fostering a relationship between mayor and other elected members; and representing, leading and directing city administration.

Among the recommendations from Cuff’s analysis, presented on Aug. 25, was that the name of the senior administrative officer be changed to city manager or city administrator. The reasoning for the change, in part, is to make it easier to recruit candidates when the position is vacant.

“It will assist the city in doing any review of SAO compensation in the future, it will assist in attracting candidates to the position and it will ease the SAO incumbent’s introduction into senior-level government discussions,” according to the Feb. 15 city memo.

Another major change to the bylaw will include allowing the city manager to designate her replacement when they are away, including vacations or when sick. 

“For a longer period of time and an extended period, council would delegate that but vacations and shorter time away, the city manager will have the ability to delegate her replacement,” said Mayor Rebecca Alty. 

The updated bylaw also provides clearer language around mayor and council’s overseeing of the city manager’s annual performance. In the past, the bylaw stated that it was solely the role of the mayor.

Annual performance reviews for the SAO are done annually in-camera. 

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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