Public engagement and governance has been struck from the City of Nanaimo’s core services review, which is expected to be smaller and take less time.
Nanaimo council agreed unanimously Monday to hire Edmonton-based WMC-Joyce Tustian Consulting to undertake a core services review, slated to begin right away.
It’s been nearly a year since Nanaimo politicians made a core services review a top priority for 2015 and two months since coming up with terms for a request for proposal. At the time and because of its scope, consultant Roshan Danesh anticipated the price would be higher than $200,000 and the review would take eight to 12 months.
The breadth has since changed. City manager Tracy Samra said she eliminated the governance review portion of the RFP because of the Watson Report, which looked into the same issue and offered recommendations two years ago. She also removed public engagement, as it’s already covered through strategic planning, a different process.
Council budgeted $350,000 for the review, but recent bids came under $250,000, according to Samra, who said they are in negotiations. The aim now is to have the review wrapped up by the end of March.
“When you take away those two ends [governance and public engagement], and you leave just a review of programs and services, you are able to focus it down,” she said. “It’s also shorter because instead of doing a comprehensive review of every single thing that’s done, council is going to pick a limited number of priority areas. Not everything is going to get the same level of review and scrutiny.”
If there was desire to take a year, “you are almost in paralysis,” unable to set your priorities and budget, said Samra, who says council authorized a more focused, shorter-term review.
Coun. Gord Fuller said he’s thrilled about moving forward and supported the RFP changes.
Public engagement, for example, can be done by city staff members, including through surveys that can be fed to the core services consultants. What he’s hoping for now is follow-through at the end of the process.
“One of the problems with core reviews is a lot of cities that get it don’t like what they see and they don’t follow through,” he said. “We may have to make cuts we really don’t like, but for the good of the city I think you have to do that,” he said.
Council is expected to meet once a month or more during the review to provide feedback on priorities.