2016 Year in Review: Core services review offers recommendations for cost savings

NANAIMO – A core services review, long-discussed and long-awaited by some councillors and citizens, was conducted in 2016.

There was one central theme at the core of so much city business in 2016.

A core services review, long-discussed and long-awaited by some councillors and citizens, was conducted in 2016 and a report was released in May, with a final cost of $248,000. The review’s recommendations led to some immediate actions and debate in the community, and politicians are continuing to use the document as a point of reference.

Last January, the city decided to expand the scope of the core review, adding the conference centre and the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association into the project charter.

Then, at the start of February, the city suspended eight committees and commissions – including parks and rec, transportation and environmental sustainability – to effectively put some of that business on hold while awaiting what the core review would have to say.

The first answers came in April, when Western Management Consultants presented a progress report and suggested their early findings showed fiscal prudence within the City of Nanaimo.

A month later, the full report was delivered. Consultants identified $1.7 million in potential annual savings, to go along with $2.75 million in one-time savings. Some of the ideas included the elimination of four prison guards, closure of Departure Bay Activity Centre, withdrawal of assistance to the Island Corridor Foundation and annual three-month shutdowns of Beban Pool.

The core review report in its entirety was quickly embraced by city council, which asked staff to look at implementing all recommendations. In June, the city created new management positions to support the rollout of core review recommendations and in July, municipal committees, restructured, resumed work.

An over-arching core review implementation plan was adopted in October, but for certain aspects, council has already taken a closer look. The Beban Pool recommendation, unpopular with seniors in particular, hasn’t been adopted; gender-specific guarding keeps coming back to the council table.

The core review touched on numerous other aspects of city operations and direction. Council has since referenced the report in decisions surrounding strategic priorities, tourism, conference centre management and economic development, and though it doesn’t always follow the recommendations, the core review continues to be part of the conversation.

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