City took, on average, 54 days to remedy complaints, says retired civil servant

By Kirk Winter

City took, on average, 54 days to remedy complaints: Service review

Retired civil servant David Webb made a deputation to council recently regarding the ongoing service level review the city is preparing for release later this year. By using the Freedom of Information Act, Webb discovered the following data about the current city complaint system:

  • The city received 6000 complaints last year requesting action
  • 60 per cent of the complaints involved road conditions and potholes
  • The average complaint took 54 days to remedy
  • Some complaints were not remedied for well over a year

“Citizens and businesses should have a direct input into any city changes (regarding customer service),” Webb said. “We need to make services better and I am willing to volunteer to help if desired. There must be citizen input into any customer service review.”

“The goal of any service review is to get the best service for the best possible money,” Webb said. “The pandemic has altered how the city delivers services. How do we restart once the pandemic is done if we don’t measure citizen’s satisfaction currently?”

Webb suggests that the city needs to measure the performance of staff and citizen satisfaction when they have interactions with the municipality.

“The city has a good website to gather and share insights on citizen’s views of city services. We don’t know how people currently view municipal services,” Webb said.

Webb added, “I could also provide much more data to the city if I were recognized as an agent for the city when making information requests.  Because I am not recognized as an agent for the city too much of the data that I currently access is redacted.”

Councillor Ron Ashmore thanked Webb for “the hours of work he had put into his really good presentation.”

Ashmore asked for an amendment to be added into a pending report about how the city will move forward improving customer service. The amendment would allow for, “a representative from council and a representative from the public to be allowed to sit on the service review committee. This will hopefully get case files moving more quickly.”

Councillor Andrew Veale, who is spearheading the service level review, did not disagree with Ashmore’s idea, but suggested council wait for the report to be crafted first.

Mayor Andy Letham agreed with Veale that “we don’t need to get ahead of ourselves.”

Councillor Pat Dunn was intrigued by Ashmore’s proposal and said, “54 days (for complaint resolution), we can do better, much better.”

Ashmore’s resolution failed for now, but is likely to be revisited when the final document is delivered to council later this year.

Update from deputy mayor

Deputy Mayor Patrick O’Reilly shared with council the tragic news of COVID-19 related deaths at the McLaughlin Road Caressant Care long term care home. He also told council that the virus is now present at the second Caressant Care facility on Mary Street.

O’Reilly had some positive news on the pandemic front, saying vaccines have arrived at Ross Memorial Hospital and inoculations will begin at long term care homes beginning Feb. 1.

The deputy mayor also brought council up to date on Kent Street construction, saying that the section currently under construction has been elongated to include the stretch of Kent Street from the old Grand Hotel to the intersection where Tim Horton’s and Home Hardware are located.

“Director (of Public Works Juan) Rojas has told me that the project is running a month ahead of time,” O’Reilly said.

Ashmore also had some good news from his ward. A fundraiser to benefit the Globus Theatre located at the Lakeview Arts Barn on Pigeon Lake Road, raised in excess of $100,000 to save the popular local tourist attraction from closing.

Roads database update 

As reported in an earlier article in the Advocate, the city has decided to create a comprehensive and accurate data base of all the road and road segments that exist in Kawartha Lakes. The purpose of the work is not only to create an accurate picture of the municipality’s transportation arteries, but to figure out how many miles of roadway are city owned and how many are unassumed or private roads.

Councillor Andrew Veale proposed to council that the city should start using the database as it is currently constituted because waiting until 2023 for the project’s completion seems unwise.

“We are dealing with 80 per cent of the roads…let’s put a policy in place and start dealing with the issues we have with roads,” Veale said. “Can we not deal with the roads that have been catalogued up to this point and add additional roads in the future?”

Councillor Doug Elmslie agreed with Veale. “Getting something in place now would be helpful.”

Councillor Emmett Yeo spoke against the proposal, fearing council would lose control of how the final 20 per cent of roads are designated.

“I am not comfortable with staff designating roads,” Yeo said. “Let’s do this all at once. We can wait another year.”

Director of Public Works responsible for roads, Bryan Robinson, was asked to weigh in on the debate by Mayor Andy Letham. Robinson said, “We need information on all roads for council to accurately decide on levels of service for roads. How do we handle these roads that historically have received service they don’t necessarily deserve? We can’t make premature decisions about assuming roads that are substandard. We don’t want to assume roads that we can’t safely get a piece of equipment down.”

Letham argued against Veale’s suggestion saying, “Let’s wait til we have all the information.”

When use of the partially complete road database came to vote, council split 4-4, with Letham adding the deciding vote to oppose using the database until it is fully complete.

Internet/telephone voting 2022 

Ashmore had questions for clerk Cathie Ritchie before a vote was taken on the city adopting internet/telephone voting exclusively for the 2022 municipal election.

The councillor wondered if the option of paper ballots could still be provided in 2022 and was told that paper ballots are not an option the city is considering. “They increase the cost, they slow counting time and there is more opportunity for election error.”

Ashmore then wondered about what voter roll would be used because the list in 2018 based on the MPAC list provided by the province was riddled with errors and excluded those who rent their dwellings.

“The (MPAC based) voters list is being updated, adjusted and corrected for use in the next election,” Ritchie said.

Both councillors Elmslie and Yeo spoke in favour of internet/telephone voting being adopted, and the motion for 2022 was approved unanimously.

Omemee Beach Park Splash pad 

Ashmore, who has pushed hard for this project, had questions before the report approving staff investigating the possibility of this facility being built was voted on. He wanted assurances that he would be consulted moving forward as the city looked into this project’s viability and was told that this is a given by Letham.

Ashmore then wanted, for the record, his fellow councillors and staff to know that “water quality and quantity in Omemee is not the issue for this project as some have suggested.”

Committee appointments

Council approved the following volunteer committee appointments lasting until the next municipal election in 2022:

Kawartha Lakes Municipal Heritage Committee 

  1. Julia Hartman
  2. John Pritchard
  3. William Peel

Agricultural Development Advisory Committee

  1. Phil Callaghan
  2. Pat Fakowski

Kawartha Lakes Accessibility Advisory Committee 

  1. Sharon Copeland
  2. Linda DeSilva
  3. Elizabeth Peeters
  4. Diane Englelstad

Off- Road Vehicle Use of City Roads Task Force 

  1. Don Mitchell
  2. Steve Lane
  3. Jason Ramsay
  4. Caroline Richards

Lindsay-Ops Landfill Public Review Committee 

  1. Barry Hodgson
  2. Lloyd Robertson
  3. David Webb
  4. Chris Appleton
  5. Larry Scrivens

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