Ross Blackwell, general manager of land use services for the Cowichan Valley Regional District since 2014, is no longer with the district.
Blackwell’s last day with the CVRD was April 1, but no reason was given for his departure.
CVRD chairman Ian Morrison said that the issue is a personnel matter that can’t be publicly discussed.
“All I can say is that we wish Ross the best of luck in his future endeavours,” Morrison said.
Blackwell also said he can’t go into details about why he is leaving the district.
“Everything will eventually come out in the wash,” Blackwell said.
“I was excited to be part of the CVRD and there was a lot of significant work completed in my tenure. I want to acknowledge what a great privilege it was to work with this community and the board’s directors who pour so much of their heart and souls into their jobs. I’m also privileged to have worked with an amazing team of professionals who are so committed to serving the region. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity.”
Blackwell, who has more than 25 years of experience in urban design, community planning and land development, has also been a guest lecturer at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Island University and Langara College over the years.
He said he has “no idea” what the next step in his career will be, but he wants something that will present him with a lot of challenges.
“That’s why I agreed to come work with the CVRD in the first place,” Blackwell said.
“I was told that I was expected to ‘bring change’ and modernize the district to ensure that it was tooled up to meet challenges, and I hope I was able to do that. I introduced the Cowichan 2050 program [an integrated planning strategy to prepare for the future], which received an award from the Union of B.C. Municipalities, and the 2050 Speaker Series [which empowers public stimulus in the discussions and activities in the community] and they both paid dividends.”
Blackwell said these are “exciting times” for the CVRD, and it will be facing numerous challenges in the near future.
“The region will have to struggle with water protection in regards to quality and volume, as well as maintaining and upgrading infrastructure, including sewer, water and transportation,” he said.
“In many ways, the district is a victim of its own success. It is a fabulous place to live and more people are coming here, but this also puts more stress on the infrastructure.”
Blackwell said he hopes to stay in the area, at least for now.
“I really care for the Valley,” he said.