Council sends City Manager Tim Commisso on his way with heart felt comments and a standing ovation

By Pepper Parr

April 16th, 2024



Drawing attention to myself is not one of my strengths said Tim Commisso as he spoke to Council for the last time.

He had a 20 year career with the city, then a good stretch of time in Thunder Bay, his home town and returned to serve as the City Manager for five years  “which has been the culmination of everything” he said.

“If you’d told me I’d be the city manager for the best city in Canada, I’d never believed you.

I grew up in a small northern Ontario town, Pickle Lake and that’s at the end of the road.

He went on to say “thank you to my counsel” with more emotion one has come to expect from Tim

I  respect the fact that you had discussions today with me that were obviously near and dear to my heart. One of the principles I adhere to is to make the tough decisions, have the tough debates in open session at counsel.”

“The suggestion that something should be named in my honour  – I’m not interested in naming anything – there may be a rumour going around that I might get a temporary naming of the parking lot, which in two years, you can rip out because it’s going to be redeveloped.

Tim fondly remembers Lisa Kearns calling him the big cheese in front of some sixty people.

“I want to thank Council for facilitating a seamless transition for a new city manager.

“A lot of times you’ll see acting or interim City Manager. I want to talk about a bit about next Monday when Hasaan will be sitting in this seat whenever you guys meet again.  I am  really impressed quite frankly with the decision you made to have him come on.

“I’ve been working with him for a couple of months. He’s given me his time and met  with senior staff. We’ve spent a lot of time going through transition items. He will do very well and I wish him nothing but the best moving forward.

Tim closed with a remark I didn’t expect. “After 42 years, I’ll quote Neil Young’s “Comes a time”.  I don’t like saying I live my life through rock and roll but that song kind of epitomizes everything for me.

Comes a time when you’re driftin’

Comes a time when you settle down

Comes a light, feelings liftin’

Lift that baby right up off the ground

Oh, this old world keeps spinnin’ ’round

It’s a wonder, tall trees ain’t layin’ down

There comes a time

You and I, we were captured

We took our souls and we flew away

We were right, we were giving

That’s how we kept what we gave away.

No, Tim didn’t sing those lyrics but he was clearly feeling them as he spoke to a Council that he guided and in five cases mentored and help them grow into the job.

Tim Commisso: His practice was to think it through.

Tim wanted the public to understand that everybody on the leadership team, compared to five years ago is new.  “That’s 19 people. I want that to resonate with you because it is a reflection of the fact that we’ve been able to attract or promote the senior leadership team.”

“It’s the reality of my era, everyone has probably retired, but you’ve got a very strong team; a group of about 70 staff. A lot of them, I would say 85% of them, are new in their roles over the last five years. People like Emilie Cote who was here today:  you know, five years ago, she was maybe a supervisor. What you’ve got is really a talented team. The reason I’ve really enjoyed working with all of you is it really comes down to two reasons.


“One is their passion and compassion. Passion is the unrelenting desire to fulfill your own wishes that drives you. And I always look at it as drive in the context of doing better for the city?

“The other one, and this is as important for me, is your desire to help others. That, quite frankly, has been the primary motivating thing people ask sometimes, like, how do you do this job? It’s because you align yourself with people that have both compassion, and passion. And ultimately, the outcome is building a great community.

“I think I’ve covered the bases here. I just want to say this is pretty surreal, but it is real. So thank you very much.  I will leave it at that Mayor.

Council began to applaud and then as a group they stood and continued to applaud.

I’ve had my issues with Tim and he has had his with me.  He has served the people of Burlington very well.  Much of his work is evident today – what people will realize a decade from now is that he was right, very right, far more often than he was wrong.


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1 comment to Council sends City Manager Tim Commisso on his way with heart felt comments and a standing ovation

  • Penny

    While sitting in council chambers this morning (once again it was the best show in town) it was interesting to see and hear the debate going on with the mayor and the councillors who had asked her to delegate back to council her control over the City Manager. You could cut the tension in the room with a knife.

    The delegation of residents asking the mayor to do this was excellent. Many good points were made as to why no one person on council should have such ultimate control.

    The mayor continued to say that she would not use her strong mayor powers, but proved otherwise by denying the points of order that 3 councillors brought to the table. The mayor was quick to try to differentiate between” points of order and points of privilege” trying her best to stop these from going forward. At one point Councillor Galbraith had to ask just what they were voting on. So much for transparency.

    The most obvious use of her strong mayor powers came when some council members questioned the cost of her proposed “speaker series” as it was not in the current budget. The Mayor then indicated that Mayor Goldring had his ” inspire series”. What she failed to mention was that the “inspire series” was held in the studio auditorium at BPAC which holds about 200 people versus her series in the main auditorium which holds over 700 people. Major difference in costs I would think.

    Her final words on the series were” her series was going forward whether council agreed or not ” Her first speaker series is already being planned.

    So much for not using her strong mayor powers.

    If I was Mr. Commisso I would be counting down the days until April 19th.