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Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority CAO retiring

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

DURHAM/KAWARTHA: Longtime Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mike Walters is retiring this year. Mr. Walters has been working for the conservation authority for over 36 years, including six years as CAO. They announced his retirement at a board meeting in July, and he will retire at the end of this year. Mr. Walters chuckled as he thought about what it is like to be close to retirement. “[There’s] mixed feelings, actually. Still lots to do, and uncertain times in which to do them,” he told The Standard. Mr. Walters named his biggest commitment, with the conservation authority, as leading the organization’s strategic plan. The current strategic plan is ending, with the conservation authority set to start the creation of a new one. “With that in mind, I’m going to bow out and hand the baton to somebody younger, and eager to move ahead. I’m leaving a great team in place,” Mr. Walters said. He also praised what the conservation authority has been able to achieve in the last five years. “We’ve essentially completed all the activities within the plan, or will have completed them by year end,” Mr. Walters stated. He said the part of the job he is going to miss most when he retires is interacting with people. “That’s been the best part of the job. I have a great board of directors, they are essentially mayors and councillors from all of our member municipalities across the watershed. We have a great chair,” he explained. “Working with them, working with our staff and our partners, that’s been also extremely rewarding. Conservation Authorities really rely on partnerships to do our jobs.” The LSRCA chair Wayne Emmerson was happy for Mr. Walters, when discussing his upcoming retirement. “On behalf of the board of directors, I want to congratulate Mike on his much-deserved retirement, and thank him for his many years of service to the Authority,” read a statement from Mr. Emmerson. The LSRCA has recently begun the process of searching for a new CAO, and expects to have a replacement for Mr. Walters in place by December. Mr. Walters provided some advice for his successor. “They are going to be busy, and it’s strange times, obviously, with COVID-19. But really, our authority is all about relationships, it’s about working and aligning our goals and objectives with our member municipalities and other partners. The person coming in is essentially working in collaboration with those groups. When we work in collaboration, we get so much more done. So, my number one recommendation is to get out and meet everybody, and make sure we are in alignment with our municipal partners, the province, the federal government and our watershed residents to collaborate.”

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