By Emily Stonehouse
Gary Dyke is no stranger to local politics, and he’s ready to wade into the (occasionally murky) waters of Haliburton County upper tier governance as their new CAO.
“I’ve never worked at this level before,” he said, “but I know things are done differently in each municipality.”
Dyke brings to the table a wealth of knowledge and experience; from being the city manager for Cambridge, the CAO for the City of Quinte West, and the president for the AMO board of directors to name a few; adding up to over 30 years of experience in the field.
“The best part about these types of jobs is seeing the stuff that you’ve done take shape in the community,” he said. “How do we create something that benefits all the local municipalities?”
Dyke originally hails from North Bay, before leaving to attend planning school at the University of Waterloo. “But I didn’t like being a planner,” he laughed. “I was always the one who wanted to see plans come to action.”
This initiative prompted him to switch into the economic development field, where he felt he could actually build and develop programs that would directly benefit municipalities, and all the taxpayers within them.
This is why Dyke has stepped into the role as CAO with the county with a new vision; to roll out a tactile strategic plan, and start getting the four lower-tier municipalities working hand in hand.
While he recognizes that he’s stepped into the role on the edge of a budget season, he plans on both supporting budget discussions, whilst actively learning from them about the priorities of the county. “You have to hear the voice of the people when working on that budget,” he said. “We need to create a narrative that speaks clearly to all the people. What would that look like? I want to make it accessible for everyone,”
When asked about amalgamation between the upper and lower tiers of government, Dyke referenced his own experiences. “Amalgamation is not the first thing I would jump to,” he said. “I think there’s lots of ways we can work together, and take more of a horizontal approach rather than a vertical one.”
He believes that there is value in multiple tiers; each one bringing something different to the table, and supporting the work they can do together. While he was aware that oftentimes, communications can be skewed and the lines of shared services can be blurred, Dyke hopes that by introducing a formal strategic plan, the workload will be better balanced.
“I don’t just want it to be another binder that sits on the shelf,” he said in reference to the plan he intends to develop and implement over 2024. “I want a tangible, integrated work plan, in furtherance of an evolving goal.”
Dyke plans on pulling from his 30 years of experience to collaborate with County Council and put into practice some new initiatives for the community. “We’re trying something new,” he said, in reference to a holistic, collaborative approach to upper tier governance.”And staff and council have been so great to work with so far. I am looking forward to it.”