Ian McIntosh feels much lighter these days, since retiring from his position as director of development services for the municipality of Summerland.
“The weight of responsibility is surprisingly heavy,” explained McIntosh. “You don’t realize how much it weighs on you until it’s not there anymore.”
McIntosh was born and raised in Summerland. After graduation, he studied landscape horticulture and worked in the business.
In 1985 he landed the job of head gardener for the City of Penticton, but soon moved into the Parks Technician position, where he was responsible for the planning of city parks. He later moved into the planning department at city hall and also acquired more university training.
Upon hearing of an opening in Summerland’s planning department, McIntosh applied and in 2005 was hired as assistant planner. In 2009 he became manager of development services and shortly thereafter became the director.
McIntosh feels that one of his greatest strengths was his ability to help people get through the system.
“I certainly understand how government works and how regulation works,” he said. “It is incredibly complicated and complex to work your way through the government approval system.”
His job was twofold. He was responsible for planning and for assisting people to get things in front of council for approval.
The day to day work involved helping people get building permits, develop sub-divisions, re-zone properties or process development variances. His position was very much one of being the “middle man.”
“The joke in planning is if everybody hates you equally, you’re in exactly the right spot,” explained McIntosh. “So if the developer or home owner thinks you’re being completely unreasonable and the rest of the community and council think you’re being way too easy, then you are probably in the sweet spot.”
McIntosh became an expert on determining what was reasonable and would advise people on where they could “push” and where they couldn’t. Often if what people asked for was reasonable, rules could be changed after much consideration. If what they wanted was unreasonable, McIntosh would suggest other options.
“I always told it the way it was. It wasn’t always good news, but it was what I believed was the best course of action,” he said. “I think if you’re honest with people and treat them with respect they appreciate that.”
As a result of this attitude, McIntosh doesn’t remember a time when people directed any attacks against him personally and in his experience he found people were for the most part very respectful to him in return.
“I enjoyed trying to find solutions,” he explained. “I’m very much an optimist and I always think there’s a way to get a win for everybody.”
One of the challenges McIntosh dealt with was what he calls “fear of change.” He felt it was very important to point out the facts or science of a matter, rather than allowing rumours based on emotion to circulate in the community. He likened these rumours to a rock rolling downhill.
“If you put your shoe in front of it in the very beginning you can stop it, but if it gets going it takes out everything in its path,” he said.
Having his second degree black belt in karate, McIntosh said, helped his demeanour and helped him to stay calm and centred during stressful times.
With no big plans set for his retirement, McIntosh said his wife Chris will also be retiring from her teaching career in June and together they plan on keeping in touch with their son and daughter, who are both in university, doing some home renovations and perhaps taking a trip.
He believes “Summerland is a fabulous place to live” and is happy that his parents and sister also live here.
McIntosh’s philosophy has served him well in his life and it is as follows;
“Look for the gwws, surround yourself with positivity and stay away from negativity in a big way.”
It comes as no surprise that McIntosh has already received calls from folks in the private sector, looking to see if he is interested in helping them out.
“I’m interested,” he said. “I still think I have something to offer.”