New Valemount CAO Eric Depenau /SUBMITTED

By Laura Keil

Valemount will finally have a new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) after a lengthy search. Eric Depenau, currently the regional executive assistant in Conservative MP Todd Doherty’s office in Prince George, will be moving to Valemount and starting in his role as the Village’s top staffer on July 4th, 2022.

“Council is extremely excited to be making this announcement,” Mayor Owen Torgerson said. “Mr. Depenau brings an essential blend of experience, education, cadence, leadership and energy that will be absolutely crucial in engaging the opportunities and challenges that are in front of us.”

The Village has been without a permanent CAO since the departure of former CAO Wayne Robinson in October 2021.

Depenau, who is also a Captain with the Rocky Mountain Rangers, says that he is very much looking forward to joining the Village of Valemount’s team.

“The thing that I look forward to the most initially is just getting out and learning about the fantastic team that’s been in place helping support mayor and council to run the municipality up until now. I understand there’s some long term staff who’ve done an exceptional job of filling in in the CAO’s absence over these number of months and also with all of the challenging things that have happened in the past, whether that’s the flooding or the heat dome. So I’m looking forward to learning from what has been successful in the past and where we can be more efficient if we have circumstances arise again.”

While he admits he doesn’t have the background in municipal government that other CAOs may have, he says municipal governments have always been a partner in his jobs with the public service, such as his time as supervisor with the BC wildfire service, his role in the MP’s office and even the military. 

“It’ll be a new relationship for myself with municipal government, which I’m looking forward to, but some of the pieces that I’ve seen have been in emergency management, project management, some of these complicated and sometimes urgent issues,” he said. “I certainly look forward to bringing up that technical competency but a very calm presence is what I hope to bring and get the other pieces shored up quickly.”

He says his wife and one-year-old daughter will remain in Prince George where his wife has a busy career, but he’ll be in the community Monday to Friday.

Eric Depenau’s family will keep Prince George as their home base. /SUBMITTED

“I’m planning on really investing a lot of time out there. it’ll certainly be a second home and my primary.”

When asked if the Village is providing housing what that arrangement entails, Mayor Torgerson said the housing terms are contractual, so the details of that arrangement remain confidential.