A council meeting this evening at Hamilton City Hall saw regular city business overshadowed by the departure of a key city official.
The city is losing its city manager to Toronto.
Toronto Mayor John Tory announced the hire this morning, although he noted that the news was already circulating on Twitter.
56 year-old Chris Murray got the top bureaucrat job in Hamilton in 2009. He was a city planner by trade and the city’s director of housing at the time, but since taking the helm he is credited with modernizing Hamilton government, smoothing relations between staff an elected officials, and with helping the city through challenges like the Pan Am Games, the Waterfront development and the LRT.
He’ll go from overseeing 7,800 workers to 34,500. Murray told CHCH today it wasn’t an easy decision to leave Hamilton.
Murray says Toronto sought him out. He thinks mostly because of the work culture he’s helped create at city hall and the relationships he’s managed to cultivate. Corporate Services Manager Mike Zegarac will act as city manager until a replacement is found.
Murray starts in Toronto on August 13.
Another Hamiltonian moving to a Toronto job is the focus of part of the debate at city hall tonight.
City council is expected to decide what to do about Ward 7 now that Councillor Donna Skelly has been elected to provincial government.
Other options could be appointing a former city councillor to hold the position for a few months the way Bob Morrow did after Bernie Morelli’s death, or allowing citizens to apply for the temporary post.
Most councillors seem to think those are expensive and time consuming options given the pre-election timing.