When Richard Forward was hired by the City of Barrie in 1990, 60,000 people called it home.
Forward is retiring as the city’s general manager of infrastructure and growth management after 28 years.
His last day is April 27.
“Barrie I call home,” he said. “Barrie is a fantastic city and I truly believe that we’re on the next great thing that’s going to happen.”
At Monday night’s city council meeting, Forward was honoured for his years of service.
“He always pitched in,” Mayor Jeff Lehman said in noting that Forward filled in eight temporary positions at city hall over the course of his career.
“For those of you who’ve been fortunate enough to work with Richard, as I have now for 12 years, you will know he has an incredible sense of humour and incredible commitment to this city,” the mayor added.
Barrie CAO Michael Prowse and Lehman tapped into that humour by presenting Forward with a framed map of the city’s secondary plan areas, as well as a Ferndale Drive street sign.
The story behind the street sign is that when Prowse was starting out in Barrie as a politician, one of his first big issues was the extension of Ferndale Drive through a wetland.
“One of the greatest claims he puts forward is that he launched my political career,” Prowse said. “The manager of engineering at the time who had the pleasure of dealing with me and my friends was none other than Richard Forward.”
Prowse, who praised Forward’s professionalism from almost two decades ago, said people are always concerned about how they are leaving their career.
“Part of Richard’s legacy is the staff he’s leaving behind,” Prowse said.
Lehman said Forward has been passionate about making sure downtown is developed properly and that population growth is managed as some 40,000 new residents are expecting to call the city home in the next several years.
“We’re going to build out new communities in this city that have your stamp on them,” Lehman said.
Outside of city hall, Forward, a water resources engineer who has also earned a master’s in business administration, has been involved with providing drinking water to people in countries such as Iraq, Pakistan, Ukraine and Haiti through humanitarian volunteer projects.