THUNDER BAY – The City of Thunder Bay’s longtime planning director, Leslie McEachern, has announced her retirement, with realty services manager Joel DePeuter tapped to succeed her.
McEachern is retiring effective June 30, city officials announced at a city council meeting on Monday.
City manager Norm Gale thanked McEachern for her 31 years of service with the city, including 16 as chief planner, praising her “unfailing professionalism” and highlighting her lead role in the creation of two versions of the city's official plan and zoning bylaw.
McEachern called it a privilege to work for the public, expressing confidence she leaves the city with a strong leadership team and an exciting revamp of zoning rules in place.
“I really am very proud of the city’s official plan and the [new] zoning bylaw, and I know they will lead the growth and development of our community into the future,” she said. “I’m confident that under the direction and management of Joel DePeuter and [planning services manager] Devon McCloskey, our planning services section is in very good hands."
In an interview, McEachern said she'd been happy to see the city's increased focus on environmental protection over the course of her career, something she said was reflected in new zoning rules meant to tame urban sprawl, as well as plans on climate change and stormwater management plans.
"Years ago, we used to protect people from the environment – flooding and whatnot – and now the focus is on protecting the environment from people."
Looking ahead, she said the biggest challenges facing the next generation of city planners will be to continue increasing the focus on sustainability and climate resilience, and further promoting intensification of areas with existing city services.
She said she looks forward to spending more time travelling and with family and friends in retirement.
DePeuter’s hire came following a “competitive selection process,” Gale told council Monday.
He has been with city planning since 2000, and served as realty services manager since 2011.
DePeuter will take on a new title of director of development services as the city reorganizes some sections of the development and emergency services department. He will oversee planning and realty services in the new role.