Changes at City Hall
Prince George, B.C.- There’s been a major reorganization of duties within what is now the Engineering and Public Works Department of Prince George City Hall and the changes see the return of a post to handle environmental issues.
In January of 2012, job cuts saw the environmental department decimated, all three in that department were let go. The shuffle now ads the position of Environmental Coordinator, which will be paired with an assistant. “It is a restoration of some of the environmental capacity that we formerly had” says General Manager Frank Blues and that position will take on a broad role as the City’s co-advisor of any environmental issues the City has to deal with. Right now, when the City needs that expertise, it has to hire someone from outside its ranks. “We actually changed one of our existing positions from an engineering assistant in our utility plants and we’ve modified that position to be an environmental assistant.”
The changes will see two new engineering positions created says Blues “For me this is about bringing a better balance to our in house professional capacity to match that to the external expertise that generally is specialists that we bring in.” He says City staff do very broad and diverse work, “We need that generalist knowledge to manage the diversity of the infrastructure that we’re in charge of and what that helps us do, is to appropriately define the scope of work and also be aware of when we need that specialist expertise to be brought in.”
The net effect of the shuffling will see no change in the number of management positions and will add three new CUPE inside worker positions. Blues says from a budget point of view, the added professional engineering support will be funded from the capital plan, not the usual operations budget. “So the net effect from the cost point of view, will be roughly the equivalent of one additional full time person.”
So while the City is hiring two, it is losing one as Blues will no longer be on the payroll as he is retiring at the end of this month after 30 years of service with the City.
Blues says the funding from the capital plan will not have any negative impact on proposed projects “In those cases we would often hire external expertise.”
Another change sees the management of transit move out of engineering to the planning department “We are restoring a full time Transit support person.” Blues says the return of a full time position ( it was previously under the umbrella of parks, solid waste and transit) “We learned back in 2004 that with a major shake up in our transit system both in routes and frequency of service we implemented a much stronger presence locally in the marketing and development of transit services. Unfortunately that diminished over time, this change is about restoring that focus”. Blues says in 2004 Transit had about 750 thousand riders a year, and last year it was about 2 million “And we want to see that revenue picture increase.”