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Chirico out as city finds new permanent community services manager

After acting as the interim manager of the department for a portion of Peter Chirico’s long-term leave, John Severino will be filling the void of permanent managing director of community services.
City Council has appointed John Severino the new permanent managing director of community services. PHOTO BY LIAM BERTI

City Council has appointed a new permanent managing director of community services.

After acting as the interim manager of the department for a portion of Peter Chirico’s long-term leave, John Severino will be filling the void. 

Chirico had been on long-term sick leave since the Memorial Gardens controversy, which saw the cost of the arena’s upgrade increase to over $16 million from the original $12 million budget without any council consent. 

Council came to the decision after discussing the matter in-camera on Monday night, as all personnel issues are confidential information. 

“He has taken over a vacant position that was filled by another individual, and you can read into it what you want, but basically Mr. Chirico doesn’t work for the City of North Bay any longer,” Mark King, chairman of Community Services Committee, said after the meeting. 

“That’s the end of the story, there’s really nothing else to add to it,” he added. 

Severino was tentatively put in charge of the position in July 2014. 

“As far as working with John, we’ve done a lot of things in the last year and I never felt that because he was temporary that it inhibited the way we operate community services, he was fully engaged,” said King. 

“I suspect there will be a certain amount of comfort that he will feel in the position because he knows he’s there permanently,” he added. 

An audit carried out by KPMG after the community centre cost overruns were brought to light shouldered much of the blame on Chirico, who was said to ultimately have overall project responsibility. 

“There are ongoing issues with respect to the Gardens and […] I know a lot of people are concerned about that, but I hope to see a final accounting of the whole process in the not-so-distance future, just to give some relief to people so that they recognize what’s transpired in that actual building,” said King. 

“John took over at a very, very difficult time and, in my mind, I think he deserves the opportunity to have that job full time,” he added. 

King said the community centre will continue to be a focus of Severino’s and that the hurdles haven’t been cleared just yet. 

“Some people always aren’t up to date with what’s happening with the building,” King said on Monday. “We have a boiler that we have to replace, which is a capital cost of some $340,000, and I can tell you honestly that there could be problems with the iceplant. 

“These are ongoing issues that you have to deal with in an older building that hasn’t had a complete rebuild,” he continued. “We have to deal with it - we have a lot of money invested in it and we have to make sure that it certainly operates in the correct way.”

Prior to the appointment, Severino was the city’s manager of environmental services before taking over the interim position from Beverley Hillier, the city’s current manager of planning services. 

Liam Berti

About the Author: Liam Berti

Liam Berti is a University of Ottawa journalism graduate who has since worked for BayToday as the City Council and North Bay Battalion reporter.
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