Although “disappointed” he won’t see major builds such as the downtown events centre reach the finish line firsthand, Sudbury's large-projects executive lead Ian Wood has retired nonetheless.
Sudbury.com connected with Wood at Tom Davies Square during his second-last day on Sept. 28, at which time he said he doesn’t know what his future might entail, but that the municipal projects are in good hands with the various staff members responsibilities have been handed to.
“Nothing would please me more than to see some shovels in the ground and buildings going up, or the reconstruction of this place,” he said in reference to Tom Davies Square (city hall).
“Each of the iterations we’ve worked on, if they were realized, would make an important difference to life in the community, both for the people who live here and also for the potential for future investment and economic development.”
Earlier in the week, Wood tabled his final reports to city council on the latest incarnation of the Junction East Cultural Hub library/art gallery project, and the downtown arena/events centre.
The library/art gallery project is projected to open within 30 to 36 months, and constitutes two projects. These include shifting municipal offices into a city-owned building to the immediate north of Tom Davies Square, and renovating the existing city hall building to accommodate the new central library/art gallery.
During their Sept. 26 city council meeting, the city’s elected officials doubled the current workload of city staff working on the events centre file by requesting information on both a renovation of the existing Sudbury Community Arena and the construction of a brand new downtown-based events centre building.
“Council directed a lot of work on Tuesday night, so staff will respond to that and do their best to deliver,” Wood said, noting the city currently has a large-projects team, including two full-time and one half-time members, dedicated to the projects.
The current events centre project is the latest incarnation of what was previously the Kingsway Entertainment District, an iteration city council quashed last year when its projected cost more than doubled to $215 million.
As the public face of these projects for the past several years, Wood said a public perception has developed that they were somehow his. Rather, he clarified, he and various other city staff members have only ever worked to fulfill city council’s directions.
This reality has been at least partially hampered by the fact city council was divided on the Kingsway Entertainment District prior to its cost jump, and only a narrow majority supported it.
With Wood’s retirement, city CAO Ed Archer told Sudbury.com that leading the projects will fall on his lap until such time as a replacement is hired, and that he doesn’t expect any delays.
“We have a steering committee of senior staff who throughout the whole project’s life has been guiding the work, and that steering committee continues to exist,” Archer said, noting that he chairs the committee.
Following Tuesday’s city council meeting and the direction provided on the events centre and library/art gallery projects, Archer said, “We’re pretty clear on what needs to be done next, and staff have their assignments.”
Hiring for a large-projects director to replace Wood is ongoing, Archer said, with applications coming in and interviews slated to take place soon.
Wood has been with the City of Greater Sudbury since its creation through amalgamation in 2001, and his municipal career began with the Town of Walden in 1998.
He has served as an economic development officer, as chief of staff to past mayor John Rodriguez during his tenure, and by 2011 as director of economic development.
Wood capped his career by serving as the city’s director of strategic initiatives, communications and citizen services executive director, during which he was also executive lead for large projects.
“I feel very fortunate,” he said of his career. “I think the people I’ve worked for have been excellent bosses and mentors.”
“He’s leaving a significant gap,” Archer said. “His ability to fill in and contribute in any capacity we’ve asked him to throughout his career will be hard to replace.”
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.