Two New Commissioners Join District Strategic Leadership Team


District Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Julie Stevens is pleased to announce the appointments of Arfona Zwiers as the new Commissioner of Community and Planning Services (CPS) and James Steele as the new Commissioner of Engineering and Public Works (EPW) for the District Municipality of Muskoka (District).   Steele will begin his new role with the District on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, and Zwiers will join the District effective Thursday, June 2, 2022.

Recruitment for the two District Strategic Leadership Team positions began earlier this year after Samantha Hastings, the current CPS Commissioner, and Fred Jahn, the current EPW Commissioner, announced their plans to retire in June 2022.


Arfona Zwiers, Commissioner of Community and Planning Services

Zwiers comes to the District with 12.5 years of experience at the County of Simcoe, where she currently holds the position of Director, Social Housing, in the Social and Community Services Division, a role that she has held since 2016.  She is no stranger to the District, as she held the position of Children’s Services/Special Projects/Best Start Implementation Manager as part of the District Team from 2003 to 2009.

Arfona Zwiers, Commissioner of Community and Planning Services

Zwiers has dedicated her entire adult life to serving people and communities, and it is her passion for helping others that has driven her career.  Some of her unique achievements include leading multi-residential affordable and supportive housing development projects and developing social planning policy for Children’s Services and Homelessness Programs.

“Arfona brings 30 years of progressive, impactful experience in community and social services to the District’s Strategic Leadership Team.  That experience, combined with several years of senior leadership in regional government, will prove instrumental as the District continues to address pressing social and planning priorities facing our local communities,” said CAO Stevens.   “Her commitment to public service, passion and her track record for working collaboratively with partners to tackle social challenges will prove invaluable as she takes on the leadership of our Community and Planning Services department.”


James Steele, Commissioner of Engineering and Public Works

Steele comes to the District with an extensive career in engineering, having spent nearly 23 years as a licenced Professional Engineer.  His municipal experience includes progressive leadership roles with the City of Toronto, York Region, and the City of Vaughan.  Following a role managing the City of Vaughan’s wastewater, stormwater and solid waste systems, Steele most recently served as lead for the City ‘s water Operating Authority representing City Council’s interests (as the System Owner).

James Steele, Commissioner of Engineering and Public Works

Throughout his public and private sector career, he has led project teams for many municipal infrastructure design, construction, renewal, and operation.  Furthermore, James has well-developed asset management skills, which have been illustrated as he co-led the development of York Region’s first Corporate Asset Management Plan with more than $12B in assets under the Region’s management.

“James’ mix of private and public sector perspectives and his management expertise in water, wastewater, solid waste, and engineering make him the ideal candidate to lead our Engineering and Public Works Department,” said CAO Stevens.  “We are very excited to have his extensive municipal leadership experience joining our team.  His expertise in asset management will be critically important as the District continues to develop and refine its asset management strategy and plan for both current and proposed levels of service.”


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