18 September 2009

Outgoing park board manager proud of accomplishments

Susan Mundick leaves after 11 years on the job

Sandra Thomas
Vancouver Courier

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sitting in the dark wood panelled "commissioners' room" at the park board office on Beach Avenue Tuesday afternoon, Susan Mundick reminisces about the past 11 years she's spent as general manager of the board.

Mundick announced her retirement Tuesday, but will remain on the job for the next several months until a replacement can be found.

"I've worked with five boards," said Mundick. "And I feel good about what we've accomplished."

Mundick is most proud of the restoration of Stanley Park, two strategic plans for facility renewal and leveraging the 2010 Olympic Winter Games into huge legacy projects, such as the new Hillcrest community centre.

And what won't she miss?

"The late night rounds of meetings," said Mundick, who's worked in parks and recreation for 35 years, largely in Ontario. "I'm looking forward to having a halfway normal life."

Mundick said while the long meetings were often tiring, she appreciated that Vancouver residents were so passionate about their city and its parks, particularly when it came to subjects such as off-leash dogs, the expansion of the Vancouver Aquarium and budgets.

Suzanne Strutt, chief executive officer of the B.C. Recreation and Parks Association, said Mundick played an important role in parks and recreation provincially as well as at the municipal level. Mundick was president of the association from 2005 to 2006.

"She's taken a real leadership role, and not just that year but before and since," said Strutt. "She was instrumental in the complete restructuring of our governance and there was a real need for that."

Strutt calls Mundick "visionary" in her work provincially with parks and recreation and added she's able to get people of varying opinions to work collectively.

"Although Susan is very strategic and makes sure none of the details are overlooked, she never micro-managed," said Strutt, who notes she still intends to call Mundick for advice.

Mundick is not the only member of senior management at the park board to announce their departure in the past year, particularly since Vision Vancouver came to power after last November's municipal election. That lofty list includes maintenance supervisor of Stanley District Eric Meagher, manager of Stanley District Jim Lowden, park board supervisor of maintenance for Queen Elizabeth District Mike Mackintosh, director of parks and recreation for Vancouver East District Lori Mackay, communications coordinator Terri Clark, manager of the board's nursery Susan Graham and Al Regan, supervisor of the Children's Farmyard and Railway. At the city the list of recent departures of senior staff includes director of Olympic operations Dave Rudberg, city manager Judy Rogers, deputy city managers James Ridge and Jody Andrews, fire chief Ray Holdgate and the city's drug policy coordinator Donald MacPherson.

Mundick, who was reluctant to give her age, said that while she's retiring from the park board, she's looking forward to her "next adventure," which could include another job or travelling with her husband, a retired insurance claims manager.

Could Mundick's next "adventure" include writing for Hollywood?

"I'm going to apply to the producers of [the NBC comedy series] Parks and Recreation and see if they need a writer for the show," she said. "Have I got a lot of ideas for them."

On a more serious note, Mundick made a point to thank the various staff members, commissioners, community associations, mayors and councillors she's worked with in the past decade.

"I couldn't have done it without their support," she said.

One final question: what does she really think of the Hollow Tree?

"No comment," she replied, laughing.
© Vancouver Courier 2009

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