Seize the moment

Back in the last millennium - 1998 to be exact - city council hired Stantec Consulting to carry out an organizational review of the city’s operations and spending.

Back in the last millennium – 1998 to be exact – city council hired Stantec Consulting to carry out an organizational review of the city’s operations and spending.

On June 21 the following year Pat Anderson presented a 36 page report to council that was subsequently released to the public.

(As an aside, the city made the report available to the public at a cost of $5, a somewhat Scroogish move for a fat cat municipality. That said, what you got for the $5 was darn good value.)

So why am I bringing up this long forgotten consultant’s report?

Because we are about to see a change at the top of Kitimat’s administrative tree with the departure of manager Trafford Hall.

A change of that importance offers council the opportunity to re-examine the way things were done and decide whether they want to maintain the status quo or make changes.

And that is a decision that should, in all fairness, be made before a new manager is hired.

Assuming council is so inclined, I offer for their consideration comments from the Stantec report.

Anderson noted city staff pointed out that sometimes it appeared the manager was taking part in council debate “rather than just offering advice and information”.

And that the manager’s seating position next to the mayor made it appear to members of the (TV) audience that he was a council member.

Anderson’s recommendation? Change the seating arrangements so as to “physically differentiate” the manager’s position from council. (What council actually did was to leave the manager at the table but move him from the mayor’s right hand side to his left, a subtle change no doubt lost on the TV audience.)

Turning to administration, Anderson described the number of staff reporting to the manager – 10 at that time – as “excessive”.

And that such a system did not allow the manager “sufficient time to provide proper direction and support”.

An example of his recommendations on that score was that economic development, building inspection and by-law enforcement should all report to the planning director rather than the manager – to whom the planning director would report.

As I said, council has been presented with an opportunity.

Will they take it? I doubt it – but would be delighted to be proved wrong.

Malcolm Baxter