Joan Ford: Let it be a sweet and lengthy retirement

By Pepper Parr

February 25th, 2024



Joan Ford, the former Chief Financial Officer of the Corporation of the City of Burlington has gone on to a well-earned retirement.

Her last six months were not what she had hoped they would be – which is unfortunate for the city.  As the CFO – she was the best this city has had in more than a decade.

This is the Joan Ford we admired and respected. She didn’t speak of profits or losses – instead spoke of favourable and unfavourable variances. She grew a department that was innovative in the way they presented financial information. She once gave Councilors the budget on a memory stick that they could manipulate the data on to look at changes they might want to make – and see the impact.

Her department was probably the best run in the city – they all knew what they were doing and did their jobs very well.

Asked who would serve as the interim – Communications said:

After Joan retired, all finance managers started rotating on a monthly basis as the Acting Executive Director & Chief Financial Officer. The job responsibilities have been divided up amongst the managers.



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5 comments to Joan Ford: Let it be a sweet and lengthy retirement

  • Lynn Crosby

    No way do I believe that Tim Commisso is in any way the reason for a toxic environment, nor is he the one whose leadership abilities should be questioned.

    • Anne and Dave Marsden

      Agree with you Lynn on the responsibility for toxic environment and leadership abilities. Not sure, however, that he was allowed to do the job required in terms following through on staff position to newbie councillors at first 2018 Planning and Development – “must abide by legislated rules eg Municipal and Planning Act Act”

  • Richie

    Good Luck to Ms. Ford – she was an honest and competent public servant. It will be a loss but there are good people in the finance area. What is startling, if one keeps count, is the number of executive exits – forced and otherwise – that are a feature of the Meed Ward administration. From memory, we have Ridge, Tanner, MacDonald, Shea Nichol, Morgan, Boyd, Arjoon, Ado-Adjei, Hughes Samedi, Commisso and a host of lesser management and executive support staff. If one had the time and patience to go back through Mayoral announcements of new additions to her office, one would get a picture of a quite remarkable merry-go-round of ‘Hi Ya’s and Bye Ya’s’. Several of the ‘staff in waiting’ lasted only a matter of weeks. Retirements certainly but also exits to find better opportunities in workplaces that are less stressful and more rewarding. Our Queen used to typify City Hall as a “toxic environment” before she assumed the throne. Now, like another Queen of fairy tale fame, she might be wise to look deeply into her very changed reflection – “mirror, mirror on the wall”.

    Editor’s note: Some balance here folks. Several of the people who are no longer with the city retired after many years of solid service. They may have made the environment toxic – our view is that the culture is a leadership matter – City Manager determines what is will be like to work for a municipality.

    • Richie

      Some balance you say? I believe that I said “retirements certainly [factor in]” and are you suggesting that ‘Shea-Nichol, Boyd, Morgan, Tanner and MacDonald had “solid service”.? We can debate that if you wish. And they all had both “many years of solid service” AND “they may have made the environment toxic”? Interesting paradox here. Organizational culture is indeed the product of leadership and the ‘first leader amongst equals” is the Mayor – now a step more above the democratic fray as a Strong Mayor. In previous articles you have recognized this fact. Laying responsibility totally at the feet of the City Manager is overly simplistic and just plain wrong.

      Editor’s note: We are going to differ here. The Mayor and Council determine the policy; the City Manager carries it out.
      The Mayor doesn’t determine how staff do their jobs – the City Manager does that: He hires and he fires or delegates senior members of his staff to do those jobs.

  • Joe Gaetan

    All the best Joan, enjoy your time away from work a.k.a retirenment.