The Reality of Our City’s Challenges

Enormous challenges face the next City Council, as we take the next steps in growing our city into a community that is modern, green, liveable and affordable. Restoring the public’s faith in how our City is run must be the new Council’s top priority. We must all put the past behind us, remain positive and move smartly towards a new and bright future.

The realities of the financial world, the poor financial state of the provincial government and citizens’ concerns over ‘value for their tax dollars’ are major considerations when dealing with the current issues.

Creative re-allocation of funds from low-value to high-value priorities must be implemented to ensure that core services are of the highest quality and that we divest ourselves of costly non-core services. The city should never be competing with the private sector. It is not our mandate.

Assembling the relevant facts, prioritizing the issues and setting a game plan to systematically deal with the changing demographics, our aging infrastructure, development activity and social values will need to be the mission of the next Council.

It will also be the collective responsibility of the new Council to analyze how these challenges will impact our city,  as we set a course of action in a strategic and deliberate manner to begin the work of growing a great, modern, northern city that we will be proud to pass on to our children and grandchildren.

This overwhelming work will require the support of the community, as well as a strong Leader/Mayor and a mature, collegial Council that is willing to ask the tough questions, engage in vigorous debate and set strong policy in order to move forward in the professional, business-like manner that citizens expect and deserve from their representatives.

Get informed about the candidates you vote for and let this be the Council that is elected to begin this daunting task.

 

“Aedificemus” Let us Build!

(Motto of the City of Greater Sudbury)

Scroll down for more articles by Lynne on city issues…..

ON WHISTLE-BLOWER PROTECTION

As a former City Councillor and on behalf of all citizens, I benefited countless times in the past from information that was shared with me by an employee of the city.

It was a sheer act of trust and courage on their part and I was flattered to be the recipient of this trust, as the policy at that time was that employees were not to speak to Council. This never sat well with me.

Such information inevitably led to a casual “meeting” on my part with the department manager. The “issue” would be brought up, pointed questions were asked and inevitably, the end result was that the manager “knew that I knew”. This was often enough to stem the infraction. Employees would then report to me that procedures had changed for the better. These were often small, but important, victories for our employees.

An open system of information-sharing is a must at City Hall and I am totally in favour of whistle-blower protection.

Most employees at the city are dedicated, hard-working, but often demoralized. They are in a position to see the day-to-day operations, while councillors are kept busy away from City Hall, dealing with a frustrated public that is unable to communicate with city departments, whose calls are not returned, whose concerns are not addressed and whose problems become a bureaucratic nightmare. Council becomes in effect the city’s “complaint department”. Front-line employees also bear the brunt of this frustration. My observation, and those of many, is that city employees are not enjoying the best work experience, the kind of work experience that they deserve, that keeps one enthused and wanting to do better.

There is a culture of unease at city hall that needs to change. A thin veneer of courtesy often covers the systemic confrontation that exists between Council and senior staff. It has unfortunately become a part of the culture. (“Councillors come and go, but we run the show”, I’ve been boldly told). In an effort to appear to be working together, councillors often kow-tow to staff (“thank you for the wonderful report”) instead of asking the important and hard questions and taking the actions that will best serve our city.

Whistle-blower protection? Everyone working together for the benefit of our citizens? Removing all barriers of communication? Transparency and accountability? Absolutely, as these are the modern, tried-and-true methods of management and governance that will foster growth, prosperity and improved livability in our city.

ABOUT THE AUDITOR-GENERAL

The Auditor General’s report this week contained many disturbing anomalies in how we do business at the City. It was quite stunning to hear staff reacting to the report publicly in a defensive and even abrasive manner. Comments and recommendations should be strictly limited to elected officials, not bureaucrats.

The AG’s office was created by Council to provide value-for-money audits and to ensure that quality work is performed in the public interest. It is a key component of accountability to the taxpayers.

Twice, the Auditor General has been subject to a peer review, and twice, he has met the highest level of professional standards.

I support the Auditor General in our city 100%. If Council really wants accountability in the way we do business at the city, then the Auditor General’s office  must be given the independence, access and free reign required to be a vital safeguard for our taxpayer dollars. That was the original intent but, unfortunately, the reality has been very different.

SEVEN THINGS I WILL SUPPORT

  1. The elimination of the so-called “slush” funds
  2. The return of the free services of the Ombudsman
  3. Accountability from everyone who works for YOU – Council, staff, contractors and funded community organizations
  4. Tightening our belt in the short term…… for progress in the long-term
  5. Getting our budget in order – prioritize, freeze hiring, cut “frills”
  6. Any cost-efficient/volunteer/private sector investment endeavour that makes our city more livable, more enjoyable and more accessible to all
  7. Professional conduct in the Chamber that will lead to progress and good work

There is much work to be done in our City and I believe that the above seven items will be a good start to renew the confidence of the taxpayers in our City Council. These must be implemented immediately in order to effect the smooth decision-making that citizens expect. There are great challenges facing our city, not the least of which is the pressure on our taxpaying citizens.

On October 27th, make your vote count for a respectful, hard-working, knowledgeable and “no-frills” approach to city governance. I look forward to your support.

LETTING OUR BELT OUT

Yesterday, along with many Minnow Lake residents, I attended a community information meeting at Adamsdale Playground about the city’s plan to widen Second Avenue to five lanes from Donna Drive at the big-box centre to Kenwood Avenue.

The cost of this project is a staggering $5 million and will be completed, all but the final paving, at the end of this year. According to a city official, “the plan is not apt to change significantly at this point”, which begs my first two questions, why have a meeting at all then? Are residents’ concerns listened to but not heeded?

I have a number of concerns and questions. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: