Cotterill calls it a career

City Manager retiring after 38 years; last five in Spruce Grove

The City of Spruce Grove is saying a final farewell today.

City Manager Robert Cotterill is retiring, after working as the City Manager for the past five years.

Over a 38-year career, he's worked for five municipalities throughout four provinces and a territory.

He says Spruce Grove presented a unique experience at the tail end of his career.

"I've worked in five municipalities, I've worked for 13 mayors, and more councillors than I can remember. But what's really interesting is most of those communities were always struggling, and this is the first one that I really got to that we had money. But we had huge demands," he said.

Cotterill says a lot has changed since 2014.

"When I came to this community five years ago, I would say we were a standard Anglo-Saxon Protestant-looking organization. We're not today. We're multicultural. And it's interesting to watch because we're becoming a microcosm of the community, and Alberta isn't the same Alberta it was when I came here in 1978."

Along with leading the entire slate of municipal staff, the city manager's position is also responsible for guiding councils in their decision-making.He was also asked if he's leaving city council with any specific wisdom.

"I'm not too sure that this council needs a lot of advice. I think they're young, they're aggressive, they care so much about the community that they will do right by the community," he said.

"The biggest struggle for any councillor coming in is they want to do things fast. And we're government - sometimes we can't move as fast. But I think the future is very bright for this community."

Cotterill says with the city growing so quickly, he thinks the biggest decisions to be made will involve the way Spruce Grove provides its services.

"The idea that we will build more edifices, to me, I'm not too sure we can afford them. And so the question will be - is there a better way?" he said.

"Should we partner with our neighbours to a greater extent? I think you'll see a lot more of that, the fact that the three municipalities are going to do regional planning."

As for the ongoing arena project, he says he's expecting it to evolve in the near future.

"Specifically, I think they (council) will decide what the two-arena concept will look like. While we looked at three options, I think a fourth option is going to come forward in the next month or so. That will be the one I think they'll take to the public, and hopefully the one that will be built."

Cotterill says when it comes down to it, there are mixed emotions in saying goodbye to the last five years.

"Emotions are sad. Sad about coming to an end. I'm looking forward to what the future holds - one of the things I'm going to do is write a book. I'm going to write a book about what I've learned in 38 years of managing municipalities. And hopefully younger people who are going into the business might find it helpful."

He'll be replaced on an interim basis by Community and Protective Services GM David Wolanski, as the city continues to look for a permanent replacement.

Cotterill was a season ticket holder and avid fan of the Spruce Grove Saints, and says their games will be one of the things he'll miss the most.

He and his wife will now move to Regina to be closer to their family.

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