He began his work in 1986 as a municipal intern with the city of Airdrie and rose through the ranks in the past 3 decades. On Thursday, June 9, Airdrie's City Manager also known as the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Paul Schulz marked 36 years in service to the city. In several weeks' time, he will be celebrating another milestone in his professional and personal life; retirement.

Schulz came into his current role on February 1, 2010, when Airdrie's population sat at approximately 38 thousand residents. Today the city has doubled in size, bringing a dimension of dynamism to his role, especially when it comes to the ever-evolving relationships Airdrie has with surrounding communities. 

"Intergovernmental affairs [has grown]. Airdrie doesn't exist, just within its own boundaries. We have so many relationships to the region, to the province and working with these other orders of government is just critical on behalf of our citizens."

Schulz compared his role to that of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in a private organization. The "Board" would then be akin to City Council.

"My role is to take council policy and direction and implement it. The organization itself, all the employees, all the assets, and all the resources are under my guidance and implementation," he said. "I work with council to not only take their direction but also to advise on direction. My job is to deliver on service and amenities."

(Photo circa 1989) Paul Schulz, Airdrie's Chief Administrative Officer has worked with the city for three decades.  (Photo provided by City of Airdrie)(Photo circa 1989) Paul Schulz, Airdrie's Chief Administrative Officer has worked with the city for three decades. (Photo provided by City of Airdrie)

One of the most tangible projects and perhaps one of the most complex that he has worked on has been the 40th Avenue Interchange. Schulz said that between the conception and planning, to breaking ground, the project has taken well over a decade. However, the past 24 months of the project have been the most dynamic.

"Council stepped up in a major way on behalf of the citizens to fund this project and I think it's not only just people getting on and off the highway, but it's also another connection to Airdrie and it really opens up the south side of our city."

Schulz also underlined that in the coming years, healthcare will continue to be at the forefront of the city council. While healthcare is not a municipal responsibility, the advocacy work council does, will have to continue.

"[Healthcare] raises its head and has been an issue at least since I became CAO and even before then. In my portfolio, I used to have EMS and our fire department. We had a very high calibre, dual service that provided great EMS service to the community. The province took that over in 2009 and since that time it's been high on our radar."

He did underline that the extension of Airdrie's Urgent Care Centre's hours is an example of how advocacy can develop into practical change that is meaningful for Airdrie's residents and he added that future advocacy for healthcare may look at either expanding the current facilities of Urgent Care or perhaps looking at the possibility of a new healthcare centre altogether.

While his replacement has yet to be found, Schulz is adamant that whoever takes the role will not only recognize the organizational culture of the City of Airdrie but also add to it.

"The organizational culture of the city of Airdrie. is very people-oriented, service-oriented and [my replacement] would need to continue down that path. I think it's critical for a leader to come in and have the support of all the people that work for them," Schulz said. "I feel very privileged to lead an organization that has very high calibre people and has employees that really care for the city. It's been my passion and I really strive to create a culture where people like come into work and where they understand the service they're in and that they're doing it for the customer."

Schulz, who is 57, plans to continue living in Airdrie because after all, Airdrie is where he met his better half.

"I met an Airdrie girl and we got married in 1991. We raised our two daughters here. Airdrie is home and will continue to be home."

Though he does plan to take up volunteer work at some point during his retirement, his first week of retirement is will be focused on some much-needed time with family.

"The first weekday after retirement is indeed camping. We have a week booked in the mountains. We come home for a week and then we're back camping for another week."

Send your news tips, story ideas, pictures, and videos to news@discoverairdrie.com