We need to continue working with senior government partners to ensure our infrastructure below and above ground is safe, sound and reliable. We have close to 650 km of roads within the City of Prince George’s boundaries with significant challenges maintaining our infrastructure and improving what we have.
In the last four years, we have invested around $25 million in roads and sidewalks. We have completed an inventory on our neighbourhood parks and reinvested in five local parks this year. On top of that, we have made major investments in our underground infrastructure. The City needs to continue applying for funding from senior governments for major projects which makes our city better and is an economic driver for our city.
We need to continue to ensure we use best practices and improved timelines when we are processing and voting on developments big or small. We need to ensure this process is fair and transparent and that residents' concerns and opinions are considered at the same time.
We started this in 2015 when Council decided to close Initiatives Prince George our external economic development arm. The goal was to take better control of our economic development, focus on Prince George’s development and to keep City Council better informed. The city is now more involved with investors and developers looking to invest or reinvest in Prince George. This is critical to attract investment and to grow our economy and expand our tax base. We have committed to ensuring our Development Services department focused on improved customer service and to streamline the approval process.
Administrative Communication and Oversight
We need a robust communications strategy that includes the political and administrative issues that City Hall deals with on a regular basis
Currently, communication focuses mainly on:
- Road closures
They need to also focus on:
- Debates in Council chambers
- Processes used by the city to decide on complex and controversial issues
- Comments from individual council members on these issues.
City Hall has remained silent on the important issues and Council is left to fend off questions and issues on its own without administrative communication support. There needs to be improved communication between the City Council and the City Manager. Currently, the Mayor is the main conduit between the City Council and the City Manager, but that is not enough. There needs to be more frequent and formalized meetings with the City Manager regarding performance and labour relations issues such as arbitrations, grievances, workplace health and safety. A review of the administrative compensation and job performances also needs to be dealt with on a more frequent basis. Finding out how much overtime staff work a year after the fact is unacceptable. City Council is not provided any of that information until public reporting requirements have been met by the City. We cannot as a City Council find out about the amounts of overtime staff members have worked until the annual report is published. This report is published in June every year. The report is from the previous year’s City Business.
The process of the frequency and the way we publish the annual report has to change. This report has extensive coverage basically with all of the City business from the past year. From the amount of lane kms we pave to salaries that go over $75,000. Moving forward I am going to pursue a change in how we handle this report. First of all important issues like wages and such should be reported quarterly at the very least. With that I feel we need to have an entirely separate City Council meeting to deal with this report and ask questions. The usual practice is to deal with this report at a June Council meeting with lots of other information on the agenda. That practice simply does not work!
The role of City Council covers a number of issues. One of the most important things we focus on is oversight. We cannot maintain proper oversight unless we have current and clear communication from our senior staff. Council occasionally finds out about important issues from City Employees or on social media. As an example, I found out that the crews filling potholes this year were not properly staffed. As a result it is taking longer to fill potholes and we still have outstanding work to do. I also found out parks division was running short staffed as employees were being used for taking down tent cities and such. This might not seem like a lot, but as an elected official I should not have to contact administration to find out what is going on and how we can get back to a high level of customer service.
As an elected official I am very concerned about our environment and will continue to focus on important issues like water and watersheds, air quality, climate action, local wildlife, tree day, improved curbside recycling, water conservation, air quality improvements, greenhouse gas emission reductions, green energy, buy and grow local food. I am also very concerned about illegal dumping and have raised the issue with the City several times. If re-elected I will be bringing this issue back to City Council and will direct administration to develop a comprehensive plan to combat illegal dumping including working with the Fraser Fort George Regional District, Spruce City Wildlife Association, Conservation Office.
None of this can happen in isolation and we need to continue to be leaders in adapting to the effects of climate change and the effect it is having on our environment. We are not in this alone and quite often need senior government support. I have also been very supportive of resolutions and policy papers that have been passed at the Union of BC Municipalities conventions in the past since being elected in 2002 including watershed governance, packing, and printed paper stewardship, streamside protection to name a few.
Policy Advisory Committee
As the Chair or the Policy Advisory Committee, along with Councillors McConnachie and Kohler, I helped look after resolutions that were submitted to the Union of BC Municipalities Conventions in the past several years. One of the issues I have been focusing on is the issue of downloading and off-loading from senior governments. An example is a resolution that deals with the issue of DNA analysis. The Province of BC decided to transfer these costs to local governments even though this was clearly not our responsibility. In this case, the cost of about $62,000 a year was being charged to the City of Prince George. There are numerous other costs that have been given to local governments across the Province that are clearly not our responsibility. We have pushed back for years regarding downloading and off-loading and will continue to do so in the future.