Princeton CAO Rick Zerr has resigned his position.
The news was made public last Wednesday by The Spotlight, which published the story to its website with confirmation from Mayor Frank Armitage.
Zerr’s last day on the job was Friday, and by Monday night’s council meeting a new CAO, Bob Wilson, had been appointed.
“He [Zerr] will be completing his vacation entitlements which run through January and then will be pursing other opportunities in his field,” said Artimage last week. “He has other opportunities. That’s the reason.”
Armitage added: “He has done a lot of very good work for the town and we will miss his good efforts and professionalism.”
Despite leading the town’s administration for more than four years, Zerr was only a footnote at Monday’s regular meeting.
A letter to council from Zerr, which was on the agenda and included in the council package, was received without comment.
The letter, dated December 1, states:
“It is with mixed emotions that I leave the Town of Princeton. On the one hand I will miss the excitement of initiating and completing new and innovative projects.
On the other hand, I look forward to the future and the pursuit of new experiences and opportunities.
I am grateful to Mayor and Council for their trust and support, their faith in me and their perseverance in achieving an ambitious agenda for improving our town.
I am proud of what has been accomplished over the past four and a half years. Compliments go out to our staff for their commitment to meeting the needs of the people of Princeton.
Their commitment, diligence, and teamwork has exceeded all expectations.
I will be eternally thankful to Mayor and Council, staff and public for the opportunity and support in leading a great organization. I am confident the town is on track to realize its most prosperous future.”
In response to questions about the resignation, following the meeting, Armitage said: “He spoke to me and told me that he thought it was time…He asked me if he could do that and I said it was fine.”
Councillor Rosemary Doughty said the move was unexpected.
“I was really surprised and I will miss him. I have a lot of respect for his work.”
Zerr – who has at times been a controversial and embattled figure on social media – politely declined an interview.
When asked if he would comment on his contributions to the municipality he referred to a list of municipal achievements since 2014 that is included in the town’s December newsletter, while crediting council with the success of the projects.
The list includes the acquisition of airport lands, the KVR lease and the Overwaitea property earmarked as the location for the proposed indoor pool. It also cites several capital purchases and infrastructure improvements and the relocation of the visitors’ centre to Bridge Street.
Zerr has a long history of civic administration and consulting.
A one-time senior manager for the District of North Vancouver, he lost a wrongful dismissal suit against that municipality in 2006. Zerr was fired in 2004 for lying about travel expenses and overtime billings.
According to his online LinkedIn profile he also held managerial roles in Surrey, Regina, Yellowknife, Sechelt and Tahsis.