Call for more public meetings on core review rejected
There will be no meetings except the ones already scheduled added to allow further public consultation into the core review process.
The initial contract put forward by KPMG was amended once by council to include more public consultation, adding to the cost of the service. Further review would not only add, once again, to the cost, but also set the timeline of the review back, something many councillors said would adversely affect the upcoming budgeting process.
The suggestion to add more public consultation time came from Janet Bigelow with CUPE during a presentation to council at Monday’s meeting.
“We’ve consulted with as many or more people than the KPMG team,” Bigelow said.
She said the public consultation process, in particular the on-line forms, were complex and difficult to understand.
Bigelow added she also gleaned many of the people she and her team, members of ‘I heart PG’ felt the outcome of the core review and the recommendations that would be put into place were predetermined.
“Many people gave up because of the complexity. People get frustrated and decide not to participate.”
She said one of her purposes in appearing before council was to invite them to a public forum on Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. where a guest speaker who went through the Toronto core review process will speak.
“Many people in the community without a voice will be impacted and need to be considered,” she said.
She said a strategy needs to be applied so they are heard, one that is broader in scope and more positive than the core review.
One of the major concerns she’s heard discussed revolves around who will run the Four Seasons pool.
“I would suggest at least one town hall meeting. The key to success with any change is communication and engagement.”
Mayor Shari Green said there was a core review public meeting scheduled for the following evening, and she planned on attending it.
After Oct. 8 there won’t be any more opportunities for input. KPMG have until the end of October to compile a list of “opportunities” for change. The list will go to the select committee, then possibly some will go to staff, then a committee as a whole meeting. Then the suggestions will come before council who will then decide which will be implemented.
Both Coun. Garth Frizzell and Coun. Brian Skakun said they believed more public consultation is in order.
“I don’t think we can get too much consultation,” Skakun said. “I know we need to make a decision but I think tacking another week on would be beneficial.”
“Consultation is important,” Coun. Lyn Hall agreed, adding he had a few issues with adding another public session. The first, he said, was the cost. The second was how another week could interfere with the timeline of the review.
“If we delay the discussions we’re really behind the eight-ball for getting the 2013 budget done. I’m really torn,” he said.
Coun. Murry Krause said he, too, was torn. He added his concern revolved around the mechanism that would be used to articulate the results of another public meeting and add them to what has already been gathered.
Coun. Frank Everitt said council has not yet made any decisions regarding the outcome of the core review.
“I want to assure you there are no pre-determined solutions,” he said.
He added it is time for council to get the information that has been gathered.
“We need to boil it down and make some strong hard decisions,” he said.
This, he said, will mean taking a stand and sometimes fighting for the results you want.
“It’s not just about cutting costs. It’s about bringing the focus back to do what we’re supposed to be doing, that the public wants us to do,” Everitt said.
“If we delay, that means a delay all the way through,” Greens said.
A motion made by Frizzell to add to the public consultation process was denied, with Frizzell and Skakun supporting the motion and all the other councillors opposed.
“Nothing is pre-determined,” Green said. “I’m interested in the final report.”