Union president still doesn't see need
Working directly with the employees and managers at city hall would have been a better path to cutting costs, rather than spending $350,000 on a core services review, according to Janet Bigelow, CUPE local 1048 president.
“I don’t think they needed to spend the $350,000,” Bigelow said. “If they would have gone to the workers, to the managers and asked how to cut back and save, they would have been answered there. I think it was a waste of money for $350,000.”
She added much of the work for the review was completed by city employees anyway.
“The majority of the information that was collected was collected by city employees. The information is there. It was given to KPMG by city employees,” she said, adding she’d like to know exactly how many hours employees put into the project.
“It would be wonderful to know how many hours city employees clocked on getting information to KPMG. Of course council made a decision not to keep track of that so we’ll never know how many hours, but I do know a lot of hours were put in by city employees – and KPMG got paid for it.”
Bigelow added she’s pleased councillors at the committee as a whole meeting voted against contracting out cutting grass on city boulevards. She said she hopes council follows suit.
Bigelow said she certainly doesn’t want to see people lose their jobs because of the core services review, however as important to her is the quality of service residents of the city receive, something she said she believes will be lacking should the city move towards contracting services.
“We certainly don’t want to see people lose their jobs,” she said. “But more importantly we want to make sure the service is still there for the residents of Prince George. We don’t want to lose the quality service. Cutting of boulevards was voted down at the committee as a whole meeting, and we are very pleased about that, but it still has to go to council. We don’t want it to happen for a simple reason. We don’t need to make a profit at this. We serve the residents of Prince George.
“A private company does the work because it is looking to make a profit. I don’t think you get the same service. We are concerned the residents of Prince George will lose on the service they receive.”
Property sales, another suggestion in the review, also concern her.
“Property is like money in the bank. You want to be careful how quick you sell it off, and I’m sure council will be responsible and wait until they get a good profit on what they decide to sell off.”
However, when it comes to green space, she says the city should leave it alone whether it’s currently being used or not.
“Communities are living entities, every neighbourhood changes,” she said. “When we moved into our neighbourhood 20 years ago with our four children, they were the only children in the neighbourhood and the park was not used much.”
Now, she said, there are five families with young children in the neighbourhood, so the park and tennis courts are used a lot more.
“If you get rid of a park or a tennis court, then 20 years down the road, if young families move in, they have nothing to use. My take is it’s there and we have it. It’s there and it’s paid for. The service is there for people even if some people go out and have some good fun a few times, it’s worth it and it’s green space. If we get rid of it we can never get it back. You want green space, good services in a city.”
That, she said, is what attracts new residents.
“When people look at moving to a city, services are the types of things they look at. They ask, ‘What can you offer me?. What kind of green space what kind of parks?’
“If you systematically start to sell it off because no one is using it at the moment, then it’s gone.”
Despite her concerns with some of the suggestions following the review, she hopes it leads to something positive.
“I hope some good comes out of the core services review,” she said. “I hope they recognize the good the city employees do.