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Wells wants internal review at municipal hall



Council to consider motion at next meeting

Councillor Kristi Wells wants council to commission a review that would look at how the municipality conducts its business.

At Monday’s council meeting Wells presented a notice of motion about the review, giving her fellow councillors warning that she would be looking for support at the next meeting.

"Sometimes I look at the municipality (as) if it were my own business," said Wells after the meeting.

"And that’s how I’m looking at it right now."

She said the municipality has taken on many responsibilities in the past year, namely drafting the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan, which will chart Whistler’s future, in addition to planning for the 2010 Olympic Games.

At the same time there are holes in municipal staff. Two key managers, Jennifer Beresford and Mike Purcell, left the organization this year and while some new people have also come on board, there are still gaps in the staff.

While she admits there is a great staff currently in place at municipal hall, she also sees the workload increasing and she wants to ensure there’s enough staff and the right staff to manage the job.

"It’s all about being proactive and planning for these really big things that we’re taking on so that we can address them the best we can," she said.

Before the workload becomes overwhelming Wells wants council to slow down, take a deep breath and really take an in-depth look at how the municipality is performing.

"We’re lucky to have the Olympics and we’re lucky to have all these great opportunities," said Wells.

"We’re not a community that has to start laying off people and restructuring that way.

"(But) how do we best maximize and be efficient with what we’ve got for accountability to the community, for being the most effective in the jobs that we have to do and to really make sure that the quality of the work we’re doing is top notch?"

This is not the first time the municipality has looked at its operations. In 1996 Urban Systems conducted an organizational review of the municipality.

At the time then Mayor Ted Nebbeling said the explosive growth in the community had put municipal staff under considerable pressure.

About the same time Administrator Peter Kent went on medical leave for stress, Public Safety Director Tony Evans was suspended for five days and Bylaws superintendent Calvin Logue resigned.

On recommendations from the Urban Systems report the municipality created a senior management team as well as a position for a human resources officer.

Another recommendation was that the position of municipal administrator be covered by a limited-term, personal services contract.

Wells estimated the cost for the review would be no more than $100,000 and she wants council to make room in the budget to have the review done by early next year.

"I want to maximize our internal resources," said Wells.

"I want to fill whatever holes are necessary to really do the best and deliver on our CSP and our plan and our vision."

Wells will present the motion to council at the Monday, Nov. 17 meeting where council can either approve or reject the proposal.

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