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This article was published 26/9/2019 (321 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
City council has approved a plan to shake up the troubled planning, property and development department, which was mired in poor workplace conduct.
Council overwhelmingly approved an administration plan to hire a consultant to review department operations and work with the department director to review management operations. CAO Mike Ruta submitted a report to council that promised an overhaul of the department, with the help of an outside consultant. A status update will be provided to council for the March 2020 meeting.
Eight civic employees were fired and seven were suspended as a result of the internal probe into the workplace habits of city building inspectors.
The probe into the city’s commercial building inspectors began in April after the Free Press published the results of surveillance video and notes collected by a group of citizens frustrated with their dealings with building inspectors. The evidence showed many of the inspectors did little work and spent most of their work day on long coffee breaks, long lunches or running personal errands.
On Thursday, two councillors said the plan to fix the department won't hold senior department officials accountable for the building inspections division, and there is no guarantee changes will occur. Kevin Klein and Janice Lukes said those moves are inadequate. They want a consultant to review all department operations and have the consultant’s report presented to council by March 2020.
Klein said the administrative plan is "typical" of how city hall fails to respond to issues.
The plan "is not pointed enough to get to the bottom of the problem and to hold the entire department accountable," Klein said. "This is just putting makeup on the issue and trying to convince taxpayers we are doing a great job."
Lukes said the internal probe didn’t result in the dismissal of any supervisors. She said she welcomes the provincial government assuming responsibilities of the department.
The amendment put forward by Klein and Lukes was opposed by other councillors, who said it mirrored the administrative report and was unnecessary.
Mayor Brian Bowman told reporters the administrative plan to review the department is only the first step to bring accountability to the troubled department, adding he understands some people will be skeptical of it.
"I believe the measures in the administrative report are a start," Bowman said. "There is going to be ongoing accountability and scrutiny by members of council and myself going forward in terms of performance of the public service."
Klein said he will propose a motion at Monday’s property and development committee meeting to have Stan Dueck, the manager responsible for building inspections, appear and answer questions about the lax supervision within the division.
Updated on Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 6:44 PM CDT: Fixes typo.
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