Edmonton finalizing severance for city manager — the 7th high-ranking official to depart in a year

Click to play video: 'Edmonton finalizing severance with departing city manager Andre Corbould'
Edmonton finalizing severance with departing city manager Andre Corbould
Days after city manager Andre Corbould announced his sudden departure, the City of Edmonton says it is finalizing details of Corbould’s severance after three years on the job. As Breanna Karstens-Smith reports, he's the seventh high-ranking city official to leave in less than a year – Mar 25, 2024

As his time as city manager comes to a close, Andre Corbould’s severance arrangements are being finalized by the City of Edmonton.

Just after 7 p.m. Friday, the city sent out a news release announcing that Corbould was leaving his position, effective April 3. The release did not say whose decision it was for him to leave.

According to the city, Corbould was hired to the position in January 2021, making $350,267.94 per year.

While previous city managers were hired to term positions, the city would not confirm whether that was the case for Corbould.

“There’s absolutely a term and I would have guessed he would have been on about a five-year contract,” political analyst John Brennan told Global News Monday.

7th official to leave in a year

Corbould is the seventh high-ranking city official to leave in less than a year.

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In April 2023, a reorganizing saw two deputy city manager positions eliminated.

Kim Armstrong had been the deputy city manager of employee services since August 2018.

Catrin Owen had been the deputy city manager of communications and engagement since September 2018.

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The following month, Hoa Quach left his position as city auditor. That role and the role of city manager are the only two positions that are hired by and directly report to city council.

One month after Quach left, long-time city employee Gord Cebryk left his position of deputy city manager of city operations.

While he had been in that position since 2018, Cebryk started with the City of Edmonton in May 1988.

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According to a LinkedIn profile, Cebryk now works for Sturgeon County.

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In July, Stephanie McCabe left. She too had been a long-time employee, starting with the city in January 2003 and serving as deputy city manager of urban planning since February 2019.

Corbould’s predecessor was Adam Laughlin.

Starting with the city in 2014, Laughlin served as interim city manager from December 2019, ushering the city through the COVID-19 pandemic until Corbould was hired in January 2021.

Laughlin then reverted back to deputy city manager of integrated infrastructure services until his sudden departure in February 2024.

Brennan, who worked for the City of Edmonton during Don Iveson’s tenure as mayor, says the turnover is high for such a short time period.

“It tells me that there’s been a lot of turmoil at City Hall,” Brennan told Global News.

Indeed, the first three months of 2024 have been busy for Corbould.

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The year began with Edmonton police taking down several homeless encampments that had popped up throughout the city.

The deputy city manager’s office was supposed to be included in decisions to take down high-risk encampments.

Multiple city councillors told Global News the process in which the closures were happening did not align with their understanding of the encampment policy council passed.

Then, on January 23, a gunman walked into Edmonton City Hall and fired randomly, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage though not physically injuring anyone.

Corbould said he was taking the lead in deciding how long city hall would remain closed for and which security measures would be put in place before the public would be able to return.

The building re-opened to the public Monday with measures including metal detectors in place.

In March, Corbould was the face for the city in contract negotiations with CSU 52. The union expressed frustration in what it said was a lack of communication with Corbould’s office.

A strike that would have seen rec centres and libraries shut down was narrowly avoided in the eleventh hour.

Corbould’s departure comes during a week when council is not sitting — meaning he, the mayor and councillors are not at City Hall to be questioned.

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“It strikes me as a very strange time for the city manager to be leaving when there are really important council meetings coming up in April,” said Brennan.

When meetings do resume, one of the first orders of business will be spring budgeting.

While not a full budget session, councillors will receive several funding requests from organizations and will set the mill rate.

On April 3, Eddie Robar will officially be appointed acting city manager.

Robar has been with the city since 2016 when he was hired as the Edmonton Transit Service branch manager. He is currently the deputy manager of city operations.

The city says a formal recruitment will follow.

“In my experience, having worked at city hall, this takes about six months. We’re not going to see a new city manager until the fall,” said Brennan.

Corbould’s predecessor Linda Cochrane left the position in December 2019, after more than 37 years with the City of Edmonton.

Cochrane’s departure was announced by her in a news conference. She had started with the city as a lifeguard and worked her way up.

Before her, Simon Farbrother served as city manager from January 2010 until September 2015. He was fired amidst delays to the Metro Line LRT, through the city said at the time that no single issue was the cause of the departure.

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Farbrother was paid about $800,000 in severance.

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