Skip to content

Kieran Dowling resigns as Kananaskis Improvement District CAO

“This will be my last meeting with KID.”

KANANASKIS COUNTRY – Kananaskis Improvement District is searching for a new chief administrative officer.

After about five-and-a-half years as the improvement district’s top bureaucrat, and three-and-a-half years as a municipal advisor prior to that, Kieran Dowling is transitioning to a new role with Alberta Environment and Protected Areas.

Dowling’s last day with Kananaskis Improvement District (KID), where he was employed by the forestry and parks ministry, was Friday (June 28).

“This will be my last meeting with KID,” he said during the municipality’s most recent governance and priorities meeting.

“Although I’ve already provided this information to council, I just wanted to note it here in the CAO report. The interim CAO details will be forthcoming and council will no doubt have opportunities to work with interim management of the CAO and that will be noted appropriately.”

Council chair Melanie Gnyp said KID will likely have acting CAOs for the next couple months, with assistance from existing municipal staff. She noted Alberta Parks is responsible for hiring but expects KID will be part of the hiring panel.

Stepping down from the role with KID did not come without hesitation, Dowling said.

With the province’s environment and protected areas ministry, he has taken on the role of consequence manager within the environment emergency management branch.

The job posting was listed in April and, as described, involves using management knowledge to help protect Albertans during emergency events. Dowling, who currently lives in Canmore and will not be relocating, called it a “great opportunity.”

In recent years, he has leaned into this line of work as manager of Kananaskis Emergency Services, working closely with KID’s fire department, as well as area emergency response teams, in addition to being KID’s CAO.

Gnyp noted she and Dowling started with KID around the same time. Gnyp, representing the lower Kananaskis Lake cabin subdivision ward, was elected in 2017.

“We’ve had a journey. It’s really amazing, I think, how far we’ve come,” she said. “Kieran, you’ve had an immense impact on KID and, I think, on the broader Kananaskis and Bow Valley [areas].”

She further noted Dowling often brought a lighthearted attitude to the CAO role, even during, and much to the relief of some of KID’s “struggling moments.”

Over the past nine months, the improvement district has experienced a bevy of staffing changes, both to its council and administration.

In October 2023, former Couns. Darren Enns and Erum Afsar reached the end of their provincial appointments to the KID ward representing Alberta citizens at-large, and in November, former Coun. Anita Szuster was forced to resign from her post representing non-commercial residents or ratepayers when she was no longer eligible as a KID resident.

Claude Faerden was also forced to resign as a councillor in March due to no longer being eligible for the ward representing small business after his business valuation surpassed that which is determined by KID’s business licence order – $750,000.

The business licence order has not been revisited since 2002 and KID is currently in talks to update the legacy document. In doing so, it has been in talks with the province to extend the 120-day deadline under the Municipal Government Act to hold a byelection for the ward. A byelection would otherwise need to be held in mid-July and the municipality has not shared any news of yet, but council has had several closed-door meetings on the topic.  

Council is nearly back to a full table with the appointments of Couns. Kateri Cowley and Dave Rodney by the Ministry of Forestry and Parks in March and Coun. Cody English voted in to represent the non-commercial residents or ratepayers ward, also in March, in a byelection.

Dowling’s recent resignation as CAO, however, also follows the departure of one of KID’s two municipal advisors earlier this year. Alex Engelberts has since been hired to fill that role.

“I am going to miss you and I am going to miss your ability to always find the bright side and always come back smiling and putting up with a lot of … stuff,” said Gnyp, speaking to Dowling’s lighthearted mentality.

The former CAO signed off his last meeting with the improvement district with a relevant quote – a signature move to end his CAO reports that often brought laughter and a few good-natured groans among council and staff members old and new.

Quoting Greek philosopher Epictetus, Dowling cheekily read aloud, “he who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at.”

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. The position covers Îyârhe (Stoney) Nakoda First Nation and Kananaskis Country.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks