Village of Zeballos hires new chief administrative officer

Village of Zeballos hires new chief administrative officer

The small Vancouver Island community of Zeballos has a new CAO.

Pete Nelson-Smith was recently announced as the new chief administrative officer (CAO) for the Village of Zeballos.

Nelson-Smith, who previously served as the Town of Port McNeill’s CAO for nearly four years, has already taken over the role in Zeballos.

“Everybody that I am working with is amazing,” he told CHEK News. “I love the council here, they have been super supportive since my first day. We just got through our first staff meeting and it is such a great group of individuals who are just looking for the same thing, which is to improve this community.”

“Pete will bring a passion for local government and commitment to this organization, as well as the community as a whole, with his diverse background and leadership skills,” Zeballos mayor Julie Colborne said in a press release posted on the village’s website.

A graduate of Capilano University, Nelson-Smith has spent time working in both the private and public sectors in British Columbia. Prior to taking on his new role in Zeballos, he was employed with the Town of Port McNeill for six years and also worked for the Village of Alert Bay and Village of Port Clements.

Nelson-Smith said he enjoys working in smaller communities because of their closeness and relationships that can be built.

“It also helps that I love the outdoors,” he added.

Nelson-Smith also said one of the unique aspects of working for a small municipality like Zeballos is the “unique challenges” and many roles that he’s expected to take on as CAO.

“Working in a place like this, you don’t get pigeonholed to one job, one duty, you get to do a little bit of everything. Every day is unique, every day a new opportunity to and I think the closeness of the community, you sort of lose that as you expand into bigger and bigger communities,” he said.

However, after six years in the larger community of Port McNeill, Nelson-Smith said there is a bit of an adjustment going back to a smaller place like Zeballos.

“There is a little bit of a readjustment,” he said. “I do have to help customers at the front counter, which is not something I really had to do in Port McNeill. There are going to be days where I am the only person in the office, so a little bit of an adjustment there but nothing that I haven’t done before. So, it’s just regearing your mind to the fact that the phone is ringing that I do need to pick it up.”

Asked whether the workload is greater as a CAO at a smaller municipality compared to Port McNeill, Nelson-Smith said it depends on the community. He said at Zeballos, he is just as busy, if not busier than he was at Port McNeill, but that the work but it’s more manageable.

“Port McNeill was in that range where we were big enough to have a good compliment of staff but not big enough to have an HR manager. So, I was beyond busy there and most of it was onboarding and training and dealing with HR stuff. Whereas here, even though I am as busy, maybe even more busy, it is a little more tangible.”

Nelson-Smith said he’s really happy to be in Zeballos.

“Most of my career has been operations, public works, and I did spend quite a few years on a volunteer fire department, so I think with my round of experience I can support this community in a way that it needs to be supported,” he added.

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Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod

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