The District of Houston has a plan for the future and a solid financial footing thanks to just-departed chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck, says mayor Shane Brienen.
“He’s definitely placed the community in a better place,” said Brienen of Pinchbeck’s time at the District which began in 2016 as its corporate services officer before moving to the top administrative spot in 2018.
Pinchbeck is off to a similiar position at the District of Vanderhoof.
Brienen says the District now has a strategic plan and a solid knowledge of its assets and what needs addressing five, 10 and 20 years out.
“That’s very important, to know what you need to do,” he said of a handle on the District’s roads and their condition as well as planning to replace the aging firehall and equally as aging community hall.
Just as important, having a plan enables the District to act on senior government grants and also the ability to act quickly as new grant opportunities arise, Brienen added.
Brienen also praised Pinchbeck’s preparation of material for council members, enabling them to consider all aspects of a situation leading making decisions.
“Council not only had one recommendation, it had three others,” he said. “Gerald is very good at staff reports, containing the best information council could have.”
Brienen said that while councillors may agree among themselves and act as a cohesive body, they really need a chief administrative officer to offer information and guidance and that was something Pinchbeck brought to the District.
That has proved crucial these past years as the District moved forward on rebuilding 9th Street, placing utility lines underground on Hwy. 16, constructing a new sidewalk on Hwy16, making other traffic and pedestrian improvements and moving forward on the project for a much better crossing system at the Benson Ave. railway crossing.
“Going through Houston, there’s a lot going on right now,” said Brienen.
Pinchbeck came to Houston as a graduate of the University of Northern B.C. and as one of the local government interns to come out of a program offered by the Northern Development Insitute Trust (NDIT).
“We’ve had some very good young people come through that program,” said Brienen of the internship. “The north is benefitting from UNBC and NDIT. It’s good to have young people stay in the north.”
Pinchbeck was presented with a certificate of appreciation from council at its last meeting July 27 and he also received several gifts highlighting his time in Houston. A surprise barbecue was also held July 30.
Council will have a temporary senior executive in place while it searches for a permanent chief administrative officer.
“We’ll be looking for the best person we can for the amount of money we can pay,” said Brienen.