Douglas Holmes has been hired as the next chief administrative officer for the Regional District of Nanaimo starting Aug. 23.
Current CAO, Phyllis Carlyle, who held the top executive position for five years, announced the decision to leave in early 2020.
Holmes “brings a strong financial background, extensive public-sector experience and comprehensive knowledge of the regional district and the central Vancouver Island area to our senior leadership team,” Tyler Brown, RDN board chair, said in a news release.
Holmes has been the CAO for Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) for four years.
“I am proud of my contribution to our many excellent working relationships around this region,” Holmes said in an ACRD news release. “How we work with the First Nations in whose territories the ACRD boundaries are drawn, how we work with the Treaty Nations and municipalities that are part of the ACRD federation and especially of the respectful and productive working relationship between our dedicated staff and our board of directors.”
The ACRD is a federation of municipalities, Port Alberni, Tofino and Ucluelet; Treaty First Nations, Huu-ay-aht, Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ, Uchucklesaht Tribe Government and Toquaht Nation; and six electoral areas. The Maa-Nulth Treaty, ratified in 2007 and between the Huu-ay-aht, Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h, Toquaht, Uchucklesaht and Yuułuiłat First Nations, made it possible for the nations to join their respective regional districts.
“I think that, from a legislative point of view, the ability for a First Nation to fully participate on a regional district board needs to exist,” Holmes told the Sounder. “At this point in time, that ability is not there except for First Nations whose treaty provides for participation on a regional district.
“As to whether any or all of Snuneymuxw, Qualicum or Snaw-Naw-As First Nations should join the RDN, in my view, the answer to that can only come from a discussion between these Nations and the RDN that explores their various interests and objectives.”
Holmes will oversee a much larger regional district come August. BC Stats estimates the 2020 population for Alberni-Clayoquot was 33,885 versus 171,977 for the RDN.
“In addition to his experience as CAO at the ACRD and other regional districts, Doug also served as the assistant city manager for the City of Nanaimo, demonstrating his capacity to work in both smaller and larger communities,” Brown told the Sounder.
Holmes, a chartered professional accountant, was the assistant city manager and general manager of corporate services for the City of Nanaimo from 2006 to 2013 and was the CAO for Sunshine Coast Regional District prior to that.
Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder