Council mulls core services review suggestions
Though they didn’t ask council to cancel Christmas, KPMG’s list of suggestions within the draft of the core services review’s final report contained some ideas that seemed extreme.
For example, the suggestion to lower service levels for snow removal was vetoed unanimously by council.
Another suggestion, however, to lower the number of councillors representing the citizen’s of the city from eight to six will be discussed further.
“Council is not making decisions today,” Mayor Shari Green, who chairs the select committee on the core services review, pointed out Friday before KPMG presented its final report.
Rather, the committee members along with the rest of council who attended the meeting perused chapters five through 13 in the report, deciding which suggestions could be acted on readily and therefor would be forwarded for further discussion at the Nov. 14 committee of the whole meeting.
Several suggested land sales, from the Pine Valley Golf Course to the Civic Centre will be discussed further at the upcoming meeting.
The report suggests one option for the city is to terminate operating Pine Valley as a golf course and develop it for sale instead.
Although KPMG did not estimate the actual economic benefits of the Civic Centre, the company did mention its usefulness in attracting functions.
Green said she understands most municipalities don’t operate a civic centre, however she is aware the facility is an economic driver downtown.
The report states: “The goal is to retain the availability of the PGCC for community based functions and as an attraction to bring events to Prince George and support the role of gateway to northern British Columbia as well as related economic and business development while reducing or eliminating the net cost to the city and property tax payers.”
Continuing to support the venue in a diminished capacity while allowing an organization like Tourism Prince George to take over was one of the various ideas presented in the report.
The report also suggests a merit based approach be taken when it comes to tax exemptions for not-for-profit organizations.
Coun. Cameron Stolz pointed out council recently discussed tax exemption issues at a previous meeting and is working on a solution. Coun. Albert Koehler agreed and added there is a lot of work to be done yet and said the suggestion should not come before the committee-of-the-whole meeting, but rather be left for a future talk.
Bylaw enforcement changes opened a discussion of suggestions that ranged from outsourcing to scheduling enforcement for the evenings. Downtown parking and how it should be enforced, from using a boot to curtail a vehicle moving until a fine is paid to ensuring the fine is paid with the tow bill after a car has been impounded, was briefly discussed.
“We need to be more pro-active. I think common sense should direct us,” Coun. Dave Wilbur said.
Stolz pointed out that council was already looking into certain bylaw enforcement items and a report on them was expected soon. Several other points will be discussed at the meeting.
Recreational fees also came under discussion, with council concerned that an increase in prices would dissuade families from using the facilities.
Green said ensuring youth had ice time is important, however council could consider raising fees for adults, exploring a pay to play ideology.
Closing the Four Seasons Pool or bringing in a third party operator, like the YMCA, to take it over, were among other suggestions in the report.
“If they can’t recover the cost, what would be the advantage for them?” Coun. Murry Krause asked.
He was told the YMCA offers pool services in many of its locations. Stolz said the idea of bringing in a third party operator was worth a discussion.
The item will be looked at further during the Nov. 14 meeting.
Working with the province to get a better price on asphalt or supplying the product through a portable unit, ideas council was already grappling with, were included in the report. Waste collection overflow fees and outsourcing a door to door recycling program were other suggestions in the public works chapter of the report.
A miscellaneous chapter including a variety of other suggestions, from fleet recommendations to ideas about transit will be discussed at a future meeting.
The results of the discussion of the various items the committee chose to forward to the committee-of-the-whole meeting will then be forwarded to the following council meeting. The rest of the suggestions, most of which could not be implemented right away, will be investigated at greater depth at a future meeting.