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Kent Kirkpatrick, city manager, stepping down in March for health reasons

The City of Ottawa's long-time city manager, Kent Kirkpatrick, revealed he will not seek to extend his contract past March 2016 as balancing multiple sclerosis and work has become "more difficult over time."

"For many years I have strived to succeed in that role while living with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis," Kirkpatrick wrote in a letter to the mayor on Sept. 22 to relate his decision. "Achieving that success has become more difficult over time."

Kirkpatrick wrote he had consulted with his doctors recently and decided that, given his progressive disability, he could not commit to the possibility of renewing his contract when it expires on March 31, 2016. His commitment to the city is as strong as ever, he wrote, and promised to contribute to the best of his abilities until then.

Since 2004, Kirkpatrick has held the job of city manager, the top position in the city's workforce of more than 17,000 full-time equivalent employees, not counting the police service. He has worked in municipal public service for more than 25 years, including four terms as a town councillor in Carleton Place.

"We very much wanted Mr. Kirkpatrick to stay on. He's done a remarkable job for us," said Ottawa mayor Jim Watson during Wednesday's city council meeting."I fully support and respect that first and foremost his health and well-being must come before anything else."

Watson said there will be a more appropriate time in the future to offer Kirkpatrick thanks and best wishes, though he noted Kirkpatrick's leadership on major city projects including light rail and the Lansdowne redevelopment.

A hiring panel made up of the mayor and members of the city's finance and economic development committee now begin an extensive national search for his replacement, with the help of an executive search firm.

Watson said he's looking for someone who can understand the city's urban, suburban and rural natures, have good capacity in French, and be strong at shepherding major infrastructure projects, especially the second phase of Ottawa's light rail project.

"I think one of the strengths of Kent is he's built good bench strength within the organization," said Watson about his willingness to look internally for a city manager, though he says he expects to highly qualified candidates from across the country.

"City of Ottawa is a prestigious assignment to be the city manager for the national capital," said Watson.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by CBCNEWS
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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