The Hamilton Conservation Authority’s new chief administrative officer shouldn’t suffer any saddle sores when he assumes the reins early next month.
Chris-Firth-Eagland served as the authority’s chair for seven years as part of a 10-year stint on the board of directors before deciding not to seek reappointment last year.
During that tenure, the Dundas resident, who owns a horse farm on Governor’s Road, helped guide the authority through some tough spots, including how to deal with an overpopulation of deer at Iroquoia Heights and the aging Crooks’ Hollow dam.
But he is also a past city manager in the parks and public works departments, and has played a key role Hamilton Waterfront Trust as a design and construction contractor.
He replaces Steve Miazga, who retires at the end of this year, and beat out 73 other applicants for the position.
“I’m very, very excited. It’s almost like coming home. There’s no job I’d rather do,” said Firth-Eagland, 60.
“I was in the process of retiring, closing out my construction company, things of that nature, when this opportunity came up, so it’s a new beginning for me. I’m really looking forward to getting on with the issues and working with staff and the community.”
Authority vice-chair Jim Howlett, who helped oversee the hiring process, said Firth-Eagland is “a natural fit” for the job because of his extensive background and familiarity with the issues he’ll face.
“He’s an unusual combination of virtues and strengths. He’s a very honest guy. He has tremendous financial knowledge coupled with great experiences in leadership,” he said.
“He’s got enthusiasm in abundance, lots of drive. This is a guy who is the first to work in the day and he’s there with a good attitude, the kind of guy you’d want to run your corporation.”
Authority chair Brian McHattie said Firth-Eagland follows in the tradition of predecessors like Miazga, Bruce Duncan and Ben Vanderbrug.
“Certainly in my mind, it’s such a critical position in Hamilton. A lot of the important natural areas protection and leadership on that side comes from the authority,” he said.
“We’ve got so many important natural lands that we own and the way they’re managed is critical, so it’s great to have Steve and now Chris.”