Saanich’s new interim chief administrative officer is promising to help tackle the many challenges facing Saanich and its council over the coming months.
Andy Laidlaw, who retired earlier this month as Campbell River’s city manager after four years in that role, will begin work Jan. 28 and remain as acting CAO until Saanich council finds a permanent replacement.
Laidlaw replaces former CAO Paul Murray, who left the District in December with a handsome $476,000 severance – including $55,000 in unused vacation time – after Mayor Richard Atwell asked Murray to step down.
In a statement, council said Laidlaw brings nearly 40 years of local government leadership experience to the interim CAO role. He spent 35 years with the City of Nanaimo and held senior positions including director of parks, recreation and culture and general manager of operations.
Laidlaw will be taking over bureaucratic operations at the District of Saanich during a contentious period. B.C.’s privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham is currently investigating the installation and use of employee monitoring software known as Spector 360, after Saanich police investigated the software’s installation on the Mayor’s and other computers and found no criminal wrongdoing. Denham can compel disclosure of documents, interview government or company officials, make legal findings and issue compliance orders to the District or make recommendations for change.
In early 2011, Laidlaw joined the City of Campbell River as city manager where he worked until he retired in mid-January. As a child, Laidlaw attended Frank Hobbs elementary and then Gordon Head junior high (now Mt. Douglas High).
He was also on the first team of the then-newly established Saanich Braves.
After leaving Saanich, Laidlaw went to high school in North Vancouver and graduated from the University of B.C. with a bachelor of recreation education. He then studied public administration at the University of Victoria.