By Mike Anderson

It’s unusual for someone to spend more than 40 years with the same employer these days. But Dave Reddon, the Town of Georgina’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), crossed that milestone last month.

Reddon, born and raised in Keswick, was just 16 years old when he started working for the Town on August 10, 1981. His first job was as a part-time building attendant and security guard at the Civic Centre. The pay was $3.50 per hour, a big increase over his farm job, which paid $1 an hour in the winter and $2 an hour in the summer.

Reddon says he was eager to make a positive impression with his new employer, even taking on the responsibility of plowing the building’s parking lot and sidewalks during the winter.

“I still worked on the neighbouring Yorke farm. So, I did the chores very early in the morning. And then if it snowed, I’d go to the Civic Center plow and then go to school and then come back and work the night shift,” he recalled.

Dave Reddon Employee ID from 1981

Eventually, he moved to a full-time position in the Treasury Department, where he worked his way up to supervisor after completing the Municipal Tax Administration program at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario.

When the Treasury Department became the Tax and Water Department, Reddon was promoted to Manager of Taxation, Revenue and Customer Service.

“I’ve always been a numbers person,” he said. “I started in the tax area and had a great exposure to a lot of financial accounting. So, I gravitated to that; numbers were something I did well. But I also enjoyed understanding the management role and the council’s role, and how decisions are made and the inputs they get from staff.”

Reddon has fond memories of this time in the Tax and Water Department because it allowed him to meet a lot of residents.

“Even today, many of them will come to pay their taxes and ask where my office is just to say hi,” he said.

While Reddon says he never aspired to be the Town’s CAO, he’s grateful for the opportunity to play a leadership role.

“I have to admit that I really enjoy what I am doing right now,” he said.

Reddon, who was appointed CAO in 2019 after Winanne Grant retired, has faced some big challenges over the past couple of years, but none greater than COVID-19.

He credits the Town’s strong senior management team, which he helped to develop, for successfully stick handling the pandemic.

“I’m very proud of the collaboration between Chief Ron Jenkins and the senior management team,” he said.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, it was not business as usual but business as unusual. We had to be prepared to pivot on a provincial announcement or a change in the infection rate. And sometimes the odd decision we had to make was difficult for residents and non-residents, but the health and safety of our residents was always in the forefront.”

One of the Town’s big wins was getting approval for the mass vaccination clinic at the Georgina Ice Palace, which meant that residents wouldn’t have to travel to Newmarket to get their shot.

“Public Health, through the CAO group in York Region, was considering locations. So very early in the talks, we offered the Ice Palace. Not every municipality jumped to that. But I think in the end everybody wanted it, but ours had already been established. I’m very proud of the clinic and the work that’s gone on there.”

Reddon has set some ambitious goals for the next few years, including changing how the Town provides its services.

“I want to continue to move the Town forward as far as modernization and facilities,” he said.

“I want our residents to have access to any modernization that is available to them because increasingly they’re using mobile devices to apply for permits or get information. I think we’ve made some great steps forward. And so, I’d like to see that continue,” he said.

“With the new Civic Centre, we’re looking at hybrid models, where we don’t have 100 per cent of the staff in the building; some can work from home, especially those that are not dealing with the public directly.”

But Reddon says residents will still be able to go to Civic Centre for services.

“Some residents still like to go to the bank, bring in their cash and pay their bill and have a chat, and that’s never going to go away,” he said.

Reddon also wants to ensure that the Town continues to attract the best talent.

“The Town has become extremely progressive as an employer. I’m a baby boomer. I’m at the end of that era. But the younger generation doesn’t like to stick around in a job long-term. So, it forced us to develop attraction and retention policies and make sure that the Town was competitive as far as wages go,” he said.

“Because we are the northern municipality in York Region, we were often considered as more of a training ground. People would spend a few years and then move south where the compensation was better. But we realized how important it is to attract and retain people. So, I think the last few years we’ve done a really good job at that.”

Reddon says he’s enjoyed working closely with Georgina’s Mayors, including Joe Dales, Rob Grossi and Margaret Quirk, and many hard-working councillors, like Regional Councillor Danny Wheeler, who passed away in 2016.

Reddon says Wheeler was often considered the voice of reason, something he aspires to be in his role as CAO.

“While there were different viewpoints, he always strived to find the happy medium,” he said. “And he did that while making sure Georgina residents were looked after. He made sure that anything council had to decide on was the best recommendation he could make for that.”

Reddon also credits Stan Armstrong, a former CAO with the Town of Georgina, for having a big influence on his career.

“I think I worked for him for 28 or 29 of those 40 years. He knew I liked to work hard and learn new things. He was extremely supportive. He was a mentor. He made all the difference in the world,” he said.

Still, Reddon admits that he has considered working for larger municipalities. But there’s just something special about Georgina that keeps him from leaving.

“I went for an interview with a big southern municipality. And they called me and said would you like to come for a second interview? I declined because I thought I really like what I do here. So, why would I go there?”

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