DELTA - Tom Leathem is leaving his position as Delta's planning director to explore new challenges in Norway.
Leathem will be gone by the end of this week with his wife, Marit Stensland, and their two children, ages five and eight.
Leathem, who has been Delta's community planning director for the past couple of years, is a Vancouver native, but his wife is originally from Norway, so it will be a homecoming for her.
The announcement that Leathem was leaving came at last week's Delta council meeting, where Mayor Lois Jackson, on behalf of council, thanked Leathem for his nine years of hard work and dedication to the Corporation of Delta.
He joined Delta in 2003 as a manager of policy planning.
Noting his wife of 10 years was an optometrist and will resume her profession in Norway, Leathem said he's looking forward to the move and hopes to remain in his same field of work in his new country.
"There's a lot for me to learn over there too," he said.
"They're a lot more advanced in many ways, like public transportation, so it will be really interesting to experience all that."
Leathem was at the helm of the department during important times, including the passing of the new Tsawwassen Area Plan, the announcement of the Tsawwassen First Nation's growth plans, the approval of the Delta housing task force recommendations and the Southlands issue, which continues today.
Other issues the department is currently dealing with include redevelopment of the Ladner waterfront and a range of growth-related concerns.
Deputy planning director Marcy Sangret takes over the lead role until a permanent replacement is named.
Leathem, noting Sangret provides great continuity, said she did a great job filling in for him when he was off for several weeks this year due to a cycling accident.
He's confident about how the department will deal with a myriad of current and future issues and will provide the right advice for council.
"They're in pretty good hands. This is a pretty good team. It's very stable here in this department and we've had staff that have been here quite a while," Leathem said.
He noted big issues created from external forces, such as Deltaport and its expansion plans, will continue to pose challenges for Delta.
"Those are the kinds of challenges Delta will have to continue to anticipate and plan for because those changes, they will occur and those external forces are very challenging.
"The best you can do is try and understand and be prepared for them and do your level best to use whatever tools you have at your disposal to put forward the best interest of your community."