The Strathcona Regional District is on the verge of losing its second Chief Administrative Officer in two and a half years.
Russ Hotsenpiller is leaving his position with the regional district to become the CAO of the Islands Trust, an organization which oversees the protection of the islands and waters between the mainland and southern Vancouver Island.
Hotsenpiller said he’s looking forward to joining the team at Islands Trust.
“Assuming a leadership role with the Islands Trust is a tremendous opportunity and I am excited to be able to contribute to the success of one of the truly special areas in British Columbia,” Hotsenpiller said in a release.
“I look forward to working with the Trust council and an outstanding staff of professionals in realizing the vision and mandate of the Islands Trust.”
Hotsenpiller will replace Linda Adams, who is retiring in January after nearly 12 years as the CAO of the Islands Trust.
Hotsenpiller is expected to report for work at Islands Trust in early January.
Jim Abram, chair of the Strathcona Regional District, said Hotsenpiller’s last day with the regional district is officially Dec. 4, though Hotsenpiller has agreed to stay on longer if needed.
“We will soon begin the process to find a new CAO,” Abram said. “The board will most likely set up a committee. That process has to start very soon. We have a lot of stuff to do, we’re in the middle of budget planning and we’ve got a lot of issues hanging. We’re working hard to make sure things are in order before he leaves.”
Abram said he will be sorry to see Hotsenpiller, who he has worked with for 17 years, go.
Hotsenpiller was a land use planner in the early 1990s when the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts were a single entity. After the two split, Hotsenpiller went to work for the newly formed Strathcona Regional District as the manager of planning and community services.
He worked his way up to the position of CAO in July, 2013 following the departure of the Strathcona Regional District’s first CAO, Brian Reardon.
“When it came up, the decision as a board was to try something different, to try and hire from within our organization,” said Abram, noting that hiring Hotsenpiller was “a real plus for us. We were a relatively new organization and we were still growing. Russ was able to step in and give us his fresh perspective.”
Abram said one of Hotsenpiller’s biggest accomplishments after taking over was in recruiting staff. He said following Reardon’s departure, there were a lot of vacancies in the organization but Hotsenpiller worked hard to fill them, and to fill them with top notch professionals.
Abram said Hotsenpiller was also instrumental in the development of the Community Health Network, as well as in the acquisition of key infrasturcture such as Whaletown Commons and several wharves.
“We accomplished a great deal in the last two years in the organization, we’ve come a long way,” Abram said.
“We worked really well with Russ. His help has been invaluable to me as chair of the board.
“I’m certainly going to miss him and I think the Islands Trust – I’m going to have to have a chat with them the next time I see them,” Abram said. “There’s nothing like having something good scooped up from under you and that’s what’s happened.”
Abram said while he’s sorry to see Hotsenpiller go, he acknowledged the opportunities that have opened up for Hotsenpiller.
“Islands Trust is a very big organization – bigger than us – and it’s based in Victoria,” Abram said. “It will open up opportunities for Russ and his family.
“I applaud Russ for making the move,” Abram added. “And we will adjust. We will make the transition and will continue to work hard to serve our constituents.”
In his new role, Hotsenpiller will be responsible to the Islands Trust Council for providing advice and implementing council’s policies and decisions.
Islands Trust is responsible for managing development while preserving and protecting the environment of the Islands Trust area which includes 13 major islands and more than 450 smaller islands covering 5,200 square kilometres.