Nanaimo city manager hands over the reins

NANAIMO – Al Kenning, city manager, announces his retirement after 35 years of service.

Al Kenning, city manager, is handing over the reins after a 35-year career with the City of Nanaimo.

Kenning, 60, will stay on with the city until early September when Ted Swabey, general manager of community safety and development, takes over the position.

“The years just keep ticking by,” Kenning said, of his decision to retire. “It’s nothing specific other than the time keeps marching on.”

Prior to coming to Nanaimo, Kenning was the manager of treasury and budgets with the B.C. Lottery Corporation in Kamloops. He came to that job from the Thompson-Nicola Regional District where he was the assistant secretary-treasurer.

Kenning, who grew up in Victoria, came to work in Nanaimo in 1987 as the municipality’s director of finance.

“It was a great job opportunity and I was from the Island, so it was a combination of being able to come back to the Island and the job opportunity,” Kenning said.

Kenning also held the position of general manager of corporate services before becoming the deputy city manager.

Being the leader of a great team was one of the most rewarding aspects of working for the city, Kenning said.

“I think, as a municipality, we provide a lot of good services to the community and provide them at a reasonable price and I’m quite proud of that,” he said.

Kenning has been part of Nanaimo’s steady growth over the past 35 years, but said one of the most challenging projects of his career was the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, which with planning and construction consumed the better part of 10 years.

“One thing about this business, there’s always lots of challenges,” Kenning said. “I’d have to say that the Vancouver Island Conference Centre was a challenging project because almost half the people in the community weren’t in favour and slightly over half were, so it was challenging from outset, but I think it’s a great facility with great operators. It is now and will be even more of a great asset for the community in terms of an economic generator.”

Kenning isn’t prepared to say what his plans for retirement are, but said he is looking forward to the time, flexibility and opportunities retirement will afford. Indications are he won’t be slowing down, though.

“This is a full-time job and then some,” Kenning said. “It’s not the kind of situation where you can slow down. It’s full speed or not at all.”

“Al has had an exemplary public service career and, as city manager, has provided exceptional leadership for council and staff,” Mayor John Ruttan said, in a press release. “It has been a privilege to have worked with Al and on behalf of council we wish him all the best in retirement.”

Ted Swabey, who has been with the city 23 years, will take over for Kenning on Sept. 3. Swabey’s starting annual salary will be $209,270.