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Annapolis Royal looking for new CAO - Gregory Barr steps down after four years to pursue new career opportunities

Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill MacDonald explains the regional partnership’s bid to vie for funding to study construction of a sea gate that could be closed to prevent storm surges and rising sea levels from devastating the many communities along the Annapolis Basin. Annapolis Royal, Digby, Annapolis County, and the District of Digby joined forces to enter the proposal in the federal government’s Smart Cities Challenge.
Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill MacDonald said the town's CAO position is open for applications after current CAO Gregory Barr accepted a position in another municipality. Barr said he's loved his years in Annapolis Royal but it's time to move on. - Lawrence Powell

ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, N.S. - Annapolis Royal’s Chief Administrative Officer Gregory Barr is stepping down after four years with the town to pursue other career opportunities in Kings County.

Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill MacDonald would rather see him stay, but understands. In the meantime, the town is looking for somebody new to fill boots that helped guide the town through some big changes in the last few years.

“The community is seeking applications from qualified individuals for the position of Chief Administrative Officer,” the town said in a job posting for the position, “ – a critical role for the sustainability and growth of this remarkable town whose key industries are related to tourism, arts, and culture which in turn support a vibrant service industry.”

MacDonald said the town is looking for a person who understands the significance of being the CAO of a community of historical significance.

“We framed it that way and hopefully people will recognise that, but I understand there are a number of municipalities that are actually looking for CAOs right now,” MacDonald said, noting that it was Barr’s decision to leave for a job opportunity that was presented to him.

“While we’re obviously sad, because he’s a fabulous fellow, he’s worked tirelessly on our behalf, he’s got an opportunity that’s been offered to him and he’s going to take it,” said MacDonald.

He said people see the economic vitality and abundance of the Town of Annapolis Royal and see Barr -- as the chief administrator -- as a big part of that success and are anxious to have him on their team.

“And so while it may be our loss, it’s somebody else’s gain, obviously,” MacDonald said. “It speaks to really the vitality of our community and the kinds of accomplishments we’ve achieved over the years and we will continue to do.”

It’s been quite a ride for Barr since he moved to Annapolis Royal. Not only did he work on some amazing town projects, he got married and started a family. He moves on to a position with Kings County as director of finance and information technology.

“I’m really pleased to have been a part of the waterfront revitalization, stuff that we did with the amphitheatre and the boardwalk, getting the funding at both the federal and provincial levels and making that project a reality,” Barr said in an interview. “I think that was talked about in town for a number of years and it was nice to see that come to fruition.”

He said working with the developer that converted the Annapolis Royal Regional Academy into condominiums was also a highlight of his time in Annapolis Royal, plus the conversion of part of ARRA for a new library which held its soft opening just before Christmas.

“Hopefully we’ll have a grand opening before I leave here Feb. 1,” he said of the library project.

He said working on those projects and helping the community grow economically in terms of the amenities it has was really rewarding.

“We did a number of other big capital projects for water and sewer and stuff in the last few years,” he said. “We got some great funding opportunities both federally and provincially that kind of made it happen. It’s been super rewarding.”

Barr hinted at grant approvals for new projects that will be happening in the spring and into the summer. He said he’ll be sad not to see those new projects through as CAO. “But I’m happy for the town,” he said.

Barr said thinking about opportunities for his family was first and foremost when he accepted the Kings County position. He said he’s an accountant by trade and the Kings County offer came at a time that seemed right.

“I think change is what’s right. You have to find the right time for it too. I think things have been going well for the town and I hope I’ve been a part of making that happen,” he said. “I’ve been involved with two different councils. I think it’s good to keep fresh. I think the CAO position is one that you want to keep good continuity but you want to keep things vitalized and energized in that position.”

Barr will still be in his ground-floor office at Town Hall until Feb. 1.

“I’m going to do my best over the next few weeks to kind of help make sure the town finds a candidate they’re happy with, that helps them keep moving in the right direction,” he said. “I feel that’s where things have gone over the last four years and it would be a shame to not see it continue going that way.”

Barr is originally from Weymouth but worked in HRM for about 20 years before taking the Annapolis Royal job. He said it’s been great being so close to family, but taking the Kings County job won’t affect proximity to family that much.

“It’s been great,” he said of his time in Annapolis Royal. “Everybody’s been super.”

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