Susan Mundick "retires" as general manager of Vancouver park board

Vancouver park board manager Susan Mundick has announced her retirement.

Last year, according to city financial statements,  Mundick was paid $212,414 for overseeing the board's operations, which include community centres, swimming pools, and municipal parks.

Mundick's departure is the latest in a growing list of retirements, resignations and at least one dismissal of senior staff since Vision Vancouver won the 2008 election.

Those who've left include city manager Judy Rogers, deputy city managers James Ridge and Jody Andrews,  fire chief Ray Holdgate, and director of Olympic operations Dave Rudberg.

Nine months ago, COPE park commissioner Loretta Woodcock told the Straight there was "not any intention" to replace Mundick.

Woodcock made the statement shortly after the Vision Vancouver-controlled council fired city manager Judy Rogers and replaced her with Penny Ballem.

On a few occasions over the past 11 years, Mundick endorsed decisions that rankled CUPE 1004 and CUPE Local 15, which represent city outside and inside workers.

After Vision won the November election, the NPA-controlled board approved hiring a private contractor to operate Centennial Pavilion in Queen Elizabeth Park over the objections of CUPE Local 15.

Earlier this year, the Vision-controlled park board chose not to reverse the decision.

In July, the sole NPA commissioner, Ian Robertson, told the Straight that he hasn't ruled out running for mayor in 2011. In an interview, he mentioned that one of his greatest concerns was the departure of senior staff since the hiring of Ballem.

“We’re seeing the consequences of a city manager who has not come through a traditional city administrative background and is really trying to micromanage the process—micromanage departments,” Robertson said at the time. “I really do believe it’s why we’ve seen the departure of some really strong individuals from the city: James Ridge [former deputy city manager], to name one; number two, Dave Rudberg, who was running the Olympic operations.”

In the same interview, the Straight asked Robertson about Mundick's future. "That's only a question Susan can answer," he replied, adding that she is "one of the most nonpartisan general managers you could ever hope for".

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Susan," Robertson said at the time. "I think she does a fabulous job."

Here is the Vancouver park board news release:  

Park Board Chair announces retirement of General Manager Susan Mundick
September 15 , 2009

Raj Hundal, Chair of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation announced today he has accepted a letter of retirement from General Manager Susan Mundick.

“Susan has been an incredible resource to both the Commissioners on the Board and to our staff,” said Hundal. “While we had all hoped that she would continue her executive leadership of the organization, Susan feels that now is the right time to retire, and, as always, I respect her judgement in this decision.”

Mundick joined the organization in 1998 and over the years has provided support and worked collaboratively with several successive Park Boards, Vancouver City Councils and Mayors. Offering strategic counsel to Board Commissioners, developing and directing strategic plans to revitalize aging infrastructure, identifying revenue opportunities through public/private partnerships, expanding parks and recreation programs and significantly increasing the City’s green spaces, count among Mundick’s many and varied achievements.

“Leaving a dream job is always a difficult decision,” said Mundick. “But after 11 years and with a long checklist of accomplishments of which I am very proud, I feel that leaving now is the right decision and the right time. I’m looking forward to a new adventure – but not before I support the Board through an efficient and effective transition to new leadership.”

Mundick has agreed to work with the Board to implement a smooth transition of executive leadership.

“Susan’s commitment to accountability and transparency, dynamic leadership and her ability to get the best out of our amazing staff will be sorely missed, to say nothing of her 35 years of parks and recreation experience,” said Hundal. “I’m sure I’m speaking for all our extended staff when I say we wish her the very best of luck in whatever retirement holds.”