Linda Cochrane extended as Edmonton city manager until 2020

Linda Cochrane extended as Edmonton city manager until 2020

Edmonton city manager Linda Cochrane has been granted a contract extension until the fall of 2020.

The extension was approved after administration was given the green light from Edmonton city council, the mayor's office said in a news release Monday.

"On behalf of city council, I am pleased to confirm that Linda Cochrane will be continuing as our city manager, " Don Iveson said in the news release.

Cochrane's extension means she will be able to deliver on two important council priorities, the first being to strengthen workplace safety and corporate culture, Iveson said.

Last fall, a city audit showed nearly one in five city employees had experienced bullying, harassment and intimidation on the job.

At the time, Cochrane issued an apology to city employees who said they had been harassed or experienced discrimination in the workplace.

"For staff who've come forward in obvious pain, I am sorry," Cochrane said at the start of an audit committee meeting in November 2017.

At city hall meetings, administration often get grilled by councillors. Iveson said he would try harder to moderate debate between council and staff to keep it respectful.

Cochrane also went on record describing how she felt having to report to council when she was a director years ago.

"Individually, you're not so scary but collectively you can be," she said.

Cochrane said the city would work with unions to move toward a completely external process when it comes to reporting harassment, instead of employees having to rely on an internal reporting process.

Iveson said Cochrane's contract extension will also help her work toward improved performance reporting. And it will help council develop "continuity" with budgets up until 2020, develop the next city plan, and deal with provincial and federal elections slated for next year, he said.

'Cabbie whisperer'

Cochrane's salary of $332,400 will remain the same at her request.

Iveson dubbed Cochrane the "Cabbie Whisperer" when, as acting city manager in early 2016, she managed to calm dozens of angry, shirtless taxi drivers in council chambers during debates over Uber service.

She was appointed full-time city manager in March 2016, taking over for Simon Farbrother, who was let go.

She spent 10 years before that as the general manager of community services with the city.

Cochrane is Edmonton's first female city manager.