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New Carstairs CAO is former councillor Rick Blair

Carl McDonnell, who is retiring after more than 30 years with the Town of Carstairs, will be replaced by longtime businessman former councillor
MVT rick blair
Rick Blair is the new Town of Carstairs CAO. Submitted photo

CARSTAIRS - The Town of Carstairs’ new chief administrative officer (CAO) is former longtime councillor Rick Blair.

Replacing outgoing CAO Carl McDonnell, who is retiring after more than 30 years with the town, Blair accepted the position as the top administrator with the municipality last week. His first official day on the job will be April 12.

During his 20 years on town council, most as deputy mayor, Blair was involved in many committees, including as chairman of the arena committee, a member of the gymnastics committee, chairman of the strategic planning committee, a member of the policy and governance committee, a member of the external relations committee, and a member of the subdivision appeal board.

For the past 11 years Blair has chaired the Mountain View Regional Water Services Commission, with the $80-million Phase 1 and Phase 2 waterline twinning project taking place during his tenure.

Mayor Lance Colby says Blair’s time on council and in private business will be invaluable in his new position as CAO.

“He has owned and managed business so understands budgets and the need for fiscal responsibility,” said Colby. “We are a growing community and his experience in dealing with engineers, contractors, the provincial government, and local government will benefit the town going forward.

“With the vast knowledge and experience that Rick Blair brings he will be a valued addition to the Town of Carstairs administration.”

For his part, Blair says he is keen to get started in the new position.

“I am looking forward to it and it’s an exciting challenge and an exciting time for Carstairs for sure,” said Blair. “With 20 years on council I’ve seen just about everything that can be seen in a municipality. I know the town well, the people well, and the staff well.”

Outgoing CAO McDonnell “has done an excellent job with the Town of Carstairs over the years,” he said. 

“He’s leaving at a time when the Town of Carstairs is in really good shape financially,” he said.

Asked if he sees any challenges for the town going forward, he said, “As always there are things we have to look at. As we look at the last census we are very, very close to 5,000 (population) so policing is probably going  to be one of the major things on our docket.”

Blair was a business owner in town for more than 20 years.

“I have an extensive background in business, both in the oil and gas industry and in the hospitality industry,” he said.