Nanaimo City Hall. FILE PHOTO/News Bulletin

Nanaimo city staff provide update on core service review

Prison guard positions axed as a result of core service review

The City of Nanaimo’s core services review response is well underway and changes are being made in various areas.

City staff provided an update to councillors on the progress of a core services review that has been underway since 2016 during a council meeting on Oct. 30.

Tracy Samra, the city’s chief administrative officer, said 11 recommendations have been completed, 31 recommendations are underway and 29 have been scheduled for 2018 and 2019. Samra was pleased by the progress city staff has been making and told councillors the process of implementing many of the changes recommended in the core services review will take another two years.

“We don’t take a look at a city with a couple hundred million dollar budget, hundreds of millions of dollars in capital investments and a range of services that we are providing to 90,000 people and effect change overnight,” she said.

There was no update about how much the city has saved in total as a result of implementing 11 of the more than 70 recommendations. However, during the presentation, senior managers from various departments provided brief updates on the progress.

Brad McRae, the city’s chief operations officer, said four prison guard positions have been axed and gender-neutral guarding is now being implemented. McRae added that individuals impacted by the cuts were reassigned elsewhere.

Victor Mema, chief financial officer, said the city is planning to adopt a multi-year budgeting cycle that will be aligned to a four-year council term, adding that the preparations are being made for the 2019-2023 council term. He said planning for a multi-year term has benefits for councillors and the public alike.

“When strategic planning is put in place, we can actually fully cost that and you can actually tell what your property tax rates, user rates and all that will look like for the four-year term,” he said. “That will actually give, I think, a little bit of certainty for councillors and the public.”

Dale Lindsay, director of community development, said one area of improvement is staff-to-staff communication within the city’s service and resource building.

“In our old building we actually had all our sections on one floor and staff working in close proximity to each other … and we’ve heard some concerns once we moved into the new building about how do we maintain that communication.”

John Elliot, the city’s manager of utilities, said the city has expanded the use of thermal plastics on roads throughout the city, which was one of the recommendations in the report.

“What it does is it creates longevity, so the markings on the road last a lot longer,” he said.

Coun. Gord Fuller said he was very pleased with the progress made by city staff.

“Most communities that did core reviews don’t act on them,” he said. “We’re acting on them. I think staff is doing a great job of acting upon them.”

Coun. Ian Thorpe said while he didn’t agree with all the recommendations in the core services review report, he believed there are a lot of very good recommendations in it and acknowledged that the implementations will take time.

“It’s not something that is going to be accomplished quickly and some people, I am sure, are frustrated that we haven’t moved along quickly but it takes a long time to get it right.”

City staff are planning to provide another core services review update within the next four months.

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