If there was an almost hometown favourite to succeed Bob Long as Yellowknife’s senior administrative officer, the nod would naturally go to Dennis Kefalas, who has been doing the job since last October.
“Dennis brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on municipal operations as well as the ability to ensure an open, transparent and engaged approach to city business,” Mayor Mark Heyck said when the appointment was announced last week. “City council and I look forward to continued positive relationships with our residents, businesses and partners.”
A Montreal native, Kefalas has lived in Yellowknife almost continuously since graduating from Concordia University in 1995 with a Bachelor degree in engineering.
He came north to work for Camilus Engineering and FSC Architects and Engineers in 1995 and moved to Ottawa in 1999 to take a job at Trow Engineering before returning to Yellowknife in 2002 to manage the city’s public works department. In 2008, he was made director of the department.
What brought him back to Yellowknife and the North is the quality of life and the people, Kefalas said.
After living the first half of his life in Montreal and Ottawa, he values “not spending hours a day commuting to and from work, and fresh air and clean water.
“How many capital cities in Canada can you leave work and be at a clean, freshwater beach in 10 minutes?”
Kefalas was acting city administrator in 2011 and has held the post since October 2012 when Long’s performance became an issue in the municipal election. The new council’s first act was to dismiss Long. The search for a new SAO started in January.
“During 2011 and 2012, he took on the role of Acting City Administrator several times and has been acting in that capacity full time since Nov. 20, 2012,” is how the press release announcing the appointment covered the final months of Long’s tenure.
Kefalas inherits a full agenda. The controversial district heating plan, although scaled back, lives on, as does the puzzle of 50th Street, where the city’s plans have been stymied by reluctant business owners. Also on deck are patching up Northlands Trailer Park and redeveloping Old Town.