The biggest personnel move during a time of turmoil at Surrey City Hall was announced Aug. 14, with the sudden retirement of city manager Vince Lalonde.
The announcement came after a weekend of social media chatter that Lalonde had been replaced by Rob Costanzo, the general manager of corporate services. Lalonde’s name had remained on the website throughout the weekend and Mayor Brenda Locke did not respond to a text message.
According to last year’s statement of financial information, Lalonde was the highest-paid employee at city hall with more than $465,000 in salary and benefits plus $11,652.26 in expenses.
Almost an hour before Surrey city hall’s news release, a reporter asked the receptionist in Lalonde’s office whether it was true that he had departed.
“He is off on vacation till September the fifth,” she answered.
Lalonde had a 26-year career at Surrey City Hall, including as general manager of engineering. He had been city manager for the past nine years, but half of that was consumed by an overarching controversy: the establishment of the Surrey Police Service to replace the Surrey RCMP detachment under ex-Mayor Doug McCallum and Locke’s winning campaign promise to close the SPS and keep the RCMP.
Last month, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth directed Locke to carry on with the SPS and phase out the RCMP, a process that could take another three years.
The announcement about Lalonde’s departure came in the wake of Aug. 10’s closed door city council meeting. A source close to the mayor’s office, who is not authorized to speak on the record, said Lalonde’s employment status was on the agenda. Council appointed Costanzo to be acting city manager.
In the news release, Lalonde said “the decision has not been an easy one,” but he was filled with pride over the achievements of city staff during his tenure. Locke thanked Lalonde for his leadership, which helped bring Surrey through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Vince’s legacy will be felt for a very long time and I wish him only the best in this next chapter of life,” said Locke’s quote in the news release.
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