The Town of Gibsons has filled the position of outgoing municipal planner Michael Epp with long-time District of Sechelt community planner André Boel.
Epp, who held the position since 2010, resigned to take a planning job with the City of North Vancouver. His last day was Feb. 20.
Boel, who has been community planner with the District for seven years, starts as director of planning in Gibsons March 1.
“We're happy and sad at the same time,” Gibsons' chief administrative officer Emanuel Machado said. “We've been very fortunate to have the services of Michael all these years, and now we're looking forward to what André can achieve as well.”
Machado, who himself made the move from Sechelt to Gibsons last September, said when he heard of Epp's departure, Boel came first to mind as a replacement. Boel's academic credentials — he earned a master of science in planning in his native Amsterdam, where he worked as a project leader for five years before moving to Canada — plus his experience working for the District, made him an “exciting” choice and a good fit for Gibsons, Machado said.
As an added consideration, he said, the quick hire means the Town will undergo minimal disruption in “business continuity” at a time when the planning department is reviewing land-use applications for the proposed George Hotel project.
“We didn't want to go through the cost and the time of a long recruitment process when we have someone so qualified right here,” Machado said, predicting a smooth transition.
In a media release Mayor Wayne Rowe said the Town has benefited from Epp's “substantial contribution to the community, exemplary service and the respect he earned from all who worked with him. We wish him well in his new endeavours.”
Epp began his career in urban planning as a summer student with the Town in 2008.
“I've received a lot of support from the community right from the start. It's very emotional now, to be leaving,” Epp said.
Among his accomplishments in Sechelt, Boel developed an affordable housing strategy and worked with an advisory committee to complete several accessibility projects. His background, Machado said, uniquely positions him to incorporate age-friendly planning and guidelines into the Town's official community plan, due to be updated this year.
Boel said he looks forward to working with council, staff and the community to implement the strategic plan and “make Gibsons an even better place.”