Former Sylvan Lake CAO takes over the top job in Innisfail

The Town of Innisfail has chosen a new chief administrative officer with plenty of Central Alberta experience.

The Town of Innisfail has chosen a new chief administrative officer with plenty of Central Alberta experience.

Helen Dietz spent the last nine years with the Town of Sylvan Lake. She will take over from Dale Mather, who is retiring after a long municipal career in Innisfail.

“Dale has been there 31 years. Big shoes to fill. Everybody knows Dale,” she said.

Dietz is looking forward to her new job, which she started two weeks ago.

“I’m excited,” she said.

The new job follows a challenging stint in Sylvan Lake. In a move that proved controversial, town council fired her from the chief administrative officer job in April. It was part of an administrative shakeup that saw the assistant chief administrative officer let go in February and a vacant director of protective services position eliminated.

Previously, she worked for the City of Brooks for five years and for 10 years in Saskatchewan as a rural municipal administrator.

Her experiences in Sylvan Lake have not dimmed her enthusiasm for municipal work.

“I’ve been in this line of work for 24 years” she said, adding she is used to working with councils, municipal staff and being involved in public meetings and community issues.

“It feels quite comfortable.”

As in many Alberta communities, planning for future growth and to replace aging facilities is expected to be an important part of the job.

“Their facilities are starting to age a little bit. The arena and curling rink are about 25 years old. So there will be some maintenance and some long-term planning that needs to be put in place.

“Other than that, (Innisfail) is in pretty good shape.”

Mather will continue to work for the town as part of a project to build a new library.

“So he should be around there if I have any questions or concerns until about the end of March.”

Meanwhile, the Town of Sylvan Lake is continuing its search for Dietz’s replacement. The position is not expected to be filled until after the Oct. 18 municipal elections.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com