Another out-of-towner hired as City of Vancouver senior management

ryan merkley
See u at Hollyhock in 2010! Vancouver’s new senior manager shakes a leg with Renewal Partners

In what is becoming a recurring pattern at Vancouver City Hall, we’ve just learned that the latest hire for the senior management team is yet another newcomer to the Wet Coast. What makes this hire interesting is the direct links to top donors of Vision Vancouver and Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Ryan Merkley, formerly of Mayor David Miller’s office in the City of Toronto is moving to town to become the new Director of Corporate Communications. The 30-something Merkley has worked for Miller for only a year and a half. Previously he was a political aide to Councillor Shelley Carroll, one of the many NDP members of Toronto city council.

The phrase "hiring from within" is anathema to the folks running Vancouver City Hall these days. While we reputedly have the most professional civil service in the country, Vision Vancouver have made sure that only outsiders are getting the new top postings. Starting with Penny Ballem, then Patrice Impey, Robin Adair, and then Sadhu Johnston, the pattern of hiring is pretty clear. Now we have Ryan Merkley from Toronto.

It’s increasingly becoming a sore point with staff that in spite of a citywide "hiring freeze" there still is headcount left for select top positions.

We put the little vipers in our research department to work as soon as we learned of Robin Adair’s memo to City Hall staff (posted below). Merkley apparently likes to party (and play bongo drums) with the social venture crowd. Specifically he makes company with Renewal Partners, which is the organization that has provided over $100,000 in campaign donations to Vision Vancouver.

Renewal Partners sponsors the Social Venture Institute, an annual conference for those who like to brainstorm about running social venture enterprises. The event takes place each year at – wait for it – Hollyhock on Cortes Island. Last year, however, SVI held an event in Toronto which Ryan Merkley was a presenter and, ahem, active participant.

We have to assume that no one currently living in Vancouver has the public relations qualifications needed for the job, or perhaps, that if you hang with the Renewal crowd you’ve got a serious leg up. Here’s Adair’s memo, which we note doesn’t mention the future of the person who formally held this position, Laurie Best.

Appointment of new Communications Director

As you know the position of Corporate Communications Director has been vacant for the past four months since Laurie Best assumed duties as head of the COV Website Transformation Project. Wendy Stewart, Colin Fenby and the entire Corporate Communications staff have done an outstanding job supporting Mayor and Council and senior staff on many assignments. However, in the face of the challenges and opportunities of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the arrival of over 10,000 media, it is clear that we need more help. I am therefore very pleased to announce the appointment of Ryan Merkley to the position of Director of Corporate Communications for a term of six months beginning on January 4, 2010.

I have been working with the City Manager, Olympic Operations and Communications staff in a process to identify a strong candidate for this position.

Ryan Merkley has an outstanding record of accomplishment as a communications professional. He is currently Senior Advisor, Strategic Communications and Budget in the Office of City of Toronto Mayor David Miller. He has provided long-term planning and communications support on a number of important civic projects.

I am delighted that we have found someone to work with us on the Olympic Games and the opportunities which follow in their wake. I look forward to introducing you to Ryan when he arrives in January.

Robin Adair
General Manager

No more Snowmageddon, blackouts says Gregor Robertson
Erin Chutter interview with Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie

Broken image or link? Click here to report it or visit

About The Author

  • strange days

    There seems to be a real change of the guard at city hall. Too bad so many senior managers are being brought in from out of province, or country for that matter. If City Caucus is correct in the assertion that there is a “Hollyhock connection”, and the Mayor is influencing hiring, it is troubling who is charged with running this city. A bit of a banjo operation…

  • It is utterly frightening the way Vision Vancouver have prostituted the integrity of the civil service at City Hall. Gregor Robertson is the overseer of breathtaking politicization at the staff level, in an unprecedented, alarming manner. This has NEVER been the case and the fact they are doing this means that unless all future council seats are occupied, in the majority, by the dimbells currently seated as Vision representatives, no other political party will get any kind of co-operation from these Salon Socialists and Brie Bolsheviks.

  • jamie ROBERTSON

    Interesting points…what I see is a young energetic “go-getter” that appears to have decent experience and one would assume the knowledge to back it…
    Lets not forget this is a temporary position – maybe that is why other locals did not apply..for this exempt job from your civil servant list…
    i would be more disgusted if there is any meat to your allegations of corruption – re the donations and if the donors “got him hired” …Is that what your are alleging..cause the spinnometer was going when you typed …this up..pls confirm? Otherwise this could be a total coincidence that he is friends with or associates of any such donors and applied independantly for the temporary job….Previous councils have made the human resources dept very large and “accountable” so I do question your allegations….

  • Jamie:
    Your comment reads as if, prior to writing, you might have been partaking in a little green herb usually grown not too far from Hollyhock on Cortes Island…a herb that (kept) keeps all the locals on bended-knee, so that they don’t have to move much to kiss the hem of Joel Solomon’s robes.
    The only spinnometer going is yours…

  • yuri

    sorry folks but I think fresh blood in van city hall is great. Vancouver City Hall is not an easy place to do business and some new leadership from outside the box is a decent idea.

  • Alster

    a bit of new blood is always good. Bloodletting not so good. Ballem is totally destroying the morale of all of us. Was there not anyone in vancouver who could do this job? I thought there was a hiring freeze? you call this 30 year politcal operative from David Miller’s office “new leadership”. I can’t stop laughing. He only got the job cause Miller is quitting and his pals need work in NDP friendly jurisdictions.

  • Out of town

    Shelley Carroll is a Liberal, not NDP.
    This blog post about the most provincial piece of writing I’ve seen in ages.

  • Thanks for the update. We mistook Carroll’s support of an NDP leadership candidate as party loyalty.,_2009

  • Torontonian

    You guys are idiots. Ryan Merkley is the only bright light in Toronto’s more-incompetent-by-the-day mayor’s office. The guy has no shortage of job offers so consider yourselves lucky.

  • Toowoozy

    Well A.G. I think Jamie makes some valid points with very little spin, while your embarrassing attempt to shift the discussion into disparaging innuendo certainly demonstrates the level of incompetency you are known for.

  • Glissando Remmy

    Jamie, Toowoozy,
    An accident happens once. It could be a coincidence,maybe, the second time,weird, third time…I don’t think so. Coincidences happens? No, that fast, they don’t.
    Please don’t visit, we have enough morons like yourself in Vancouver. Then of course, you can always start a fraternity on the Cortes Island.

  • jamie

    Is that all you got??? Again I rest my case while you “ramp up” your spinnometer…CityCaucus is hiring new reporters to fill Tower 3 in the new year…You sound as though you have the pre-requisite Spinn skills that are imbedded in the site!! Good Stuff!

  • bruce s

    Ryan Merkley is all show. The man thinks he is a gift to this earth. Biggest mistake was bringing him on board. Don’t blow is ego to big he might never be able to come back to the ground.