City of Colwood hires new top administrator

Ian Howat comes to job with plenty of experience in public administration

The City of Colwood has hired a new chief administrative officer, its fifth permanent or interim CAO since 2012.

Ian Howat replaces interim CAO Gary Nason, who has been serving in the position since April 1. Howat takes up the post on Dec. 7 after finishing his duties as general manager of corporate services with the City of Nanaimo.

He has also served as chief administrator for three other Vancouver Island communities: Ucluelet, Tofino and Lantzville.

Howat was selected after a nationwide recruitment process which began in May. Rather than contracting an external company to vet potential applicants, the City opted to have Nason and another retired CAO co-ordinate the search.

Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton said taking that step saved the City a considerable amount of money. She estimated a professional head-hunting firm would have charged roughly $30,000, but by keeping it in house they spent an estimated $5,000 on the project.

The search yielded more than 90 applicants.

“It was a pretty respectful showing,” Hamilton said, adding that many of the applicants were known to staff. “You’re getting built-in references. Coming out of this we’ve got a pretty good sense.”

She said a lot more than just experience goes into selecting a successful applicant. “We’re really looking to find … someone to fit the family.”

Hamilton said Howat will make a good addition to the team. “Council has plans, the City has plans – we’re trying to mesh those plans. It’s really going to be a good partnership.”

While Hamilton couldn’t disclose details of Howat’s contract, she did say they expect to get “some good years of service” from him. “It’s good to keep the train on the tracks,” she said. She also noted his salary is consistent with comparably sized cities in the region.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com