Linda Cochrane is Edmonton’s new City Manager

Mayor Don Iveson announced this morning that City Council has hired Linda Cochrane as Edmonton’s new City Manager. A long-time City employee, Linda has been the Acting City Manager since September when Council decided to fire Simon Farbrother.

Linda Cochrane

Here’s what the mayor had to say on why Linda was selected:

“As you know, Linda had been Acting City Manager since the fall of 2015. In that time she has earned the complete trust of City Council through her continuing work to transform the structure of the corporation and lead a more open and effective local government.

It is important to note that this was an international search with applications from candidates far and wide. The interest of so many talented applicants is a wonderful compliment to our community, our vision, and the work of our administration – things we should all be immensely proud of. More to the point, it is a reflection of the quality of Linda’s tremendous service and inspiring leadership that she was considered best amongst this class of impressive candidates.”

Council has signed Linda to a three year term, with options to renew. Linda was very clear back in January that she wanted to be considered for the role. Today she was elated to have been selected, telling the Journal: “I’m just over the moon. It’s a realization of a lifetime dream. I couldn’t be happier.”

Linda started her career in aquatics programs, first in Edmonton as a swim instructor and then with Spruce Grove. She returned to the City in 1982 and started climbing the management ladder. She was director of the Kinsmen Sports Centre and in 1990 was asked to take on the role of director at the Valley Zoo. It wasn’t long until she was in charge of the City’s parks and recreation centres. Linda was most recently the general manager of Community Services (now Citizen Services after the reorg she announced in January), a position she took on in 2006.

Linda has worked on a number of high profile projects throughout her career. She defended the Valley Zoo’s care of Lucy the Elephant and refused to bow to pressure from Bob Barker and others who wanted Lucy moved. Linda was one of only four women on the eighteen-person bid committee for the 2001 World Championships in Athletics. She led the charge to build the Terwillegar Rec Centre and led a review of all the City’s facilities. Most recently of course she earned the nickname “cabbie whisperer” for her quick action to restore order during contentious Council discussions on Uber.

Linda is Edmonton’s first female City Manager. That’s particularly interesting given that she is the only woman on the Corporate Leadership Team (CLT). “Between 2012 and 2015, the percentage of general and branch managers who were woman held steady at 22 per cent. It’s now 16 per cent,” reported the Journal. Of course there’s just one woman – Bev Esslinger – on City Council as well.

I wrote back in November that I didn’t think Linda was likely to get the job. That comment was based not on her abilities, but on what Council had publicly stated they were looking for. Mayor Iveson’s statement back in September said “the scale and complexity of the challenges ahead demand a fresh perspective” and that Council’s goal was to “hire someone who can meet the aspirations of this city head-on and help build the kind of city we can all be proud of.” It seemed as though Council wanted someone from the outside.

I do think Linda is a great choice for City Manager. She is well-known and widely respected at the City has earned a reputation as someone who gets things done. Linda will tell it like it is, and that’s certainly important to Council. She has been supportive of the ongoing culture shift at the City and has talked often of leading through service. Linda is ideally suited to guiding the City through turbulent times.

In just a few short months as Acting City Manager, Linda has really put her stamp on the organization, earning Council’s trust, the public’s admiration, and leading a key reorganization. I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes in her new role.

  • Sue Heuman

    Hey Mack, I’ve been honoured to know Linda for about 20 years. She is one of the most talented leaders I’ve ever worked with. She’s smart, humble, always sharing credit with those around her. She has wonderful people skills – as evidenced in the examples you noted – and she always makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room. She’s warm, generous and a true leader in all senses of the word. I’m so thrilled for her!

  • Pamela Bryan

    While Linda may be a very capable administrator, I certainly see no sign of the ‘compassion’ Mayor Iveson has suggested she has. In ‘standing up’ to Bob Barker, she demonstrated a great lack of compassion for Lucy the Elephant.

    Interestingly, since that time a number of concerned Edmontonians, including myself, have tried to engage our Councillor in an educated discussion about Lucy’s situation and all have held the line ‘someone they trust in administration says Lucy is fine’ and have refused to engage in the issue. I expect the someone is Linda, and they are as intimidated or charmed by her as the cabbies were.

    The fact in Lucy’s case is it is against Alberta Zoo Standards, and also against zoo standards in the US and most other countries with standards, for a female elephant to be kept alone as they are highly social and intelligent. Lucy remains alone here for decades because the zoo says she is too sick to move – yet steadfastly refuse to accept a second veterinarian opinion on the matter.

    Only one elephant expert has ever given Lucy a hand’s on examination. She has never had a clear diagnosis and is receiving no specific treatment for the condition they say makes it impossible to move her.

    There is a standing offer at NO COST to the city or the zoo for a panel of elephant experts to assess Lucy’s health, suggest treatment and determine if she can be moved. The zoo could even choose 1/2 the experts, yet they still refuse.

    If your beloved child was sick with no diagnosis or treatment would you not seek a second opinion?

    Lucy is now 40 years old and suffering many zoo related ailments. The average life expectancy for an elephant in a zoo is 40 – 45 years, so her days are numbered here regardless. In sanctuary elephants average 60 – 70 years and in the wild up to 80 years. These are documented scientific facts.

    I would love to see Linda’s compassion extended to Lucy. After 38 years here she has earned her retirement and the opportunity to live out her life with other elephants – as zoo standards demand and Linda has to date blocked.