Kenora closer to hiring community safety and well-being coordinator

City council is considering moving forward with the hiring of a community safety and well-being coordinator, though many had concerns the salary proposed by administration isn't sufficient.

Kenora City Council spent time at the committee of the whole meeting on Wednesday discussing the hiring of a community safety and well being coordinator, one of the priority directives for administration which came out of the special meeting on public safety held Dec. 29, 2022.

Administration presented a motion for council to approve the addition of the position to the city’s core staff complement. The position would also have with an annual salary $87,617 with an operating budget of $75,000 for the year.

Many councillors expressed concern that the salary wouldn’t be enough to attract the right person.

“I have serious concerns that were maybe shooting ourselves in the foot here and not setting the city up for success by being able to attract and retain the level of professional that we need for this type of role,” said Coun. Graham Chaze.

Coun. Kelsie Van Belleghem suggested, ideally, the person hired for the position should have an existing connection to the community.

“So they're generally at a later stage in their career advancement," Van Belleghem said. "And so I worry that we're not attracting who our target demographic would be for this role at that wage.”

Mayor Andrew Poirier also shared similar concerns.

“I'm not sure that [the salary amount] cuts it anymore,” Poirier said. “It's just the reality of the marketplace.”

Administration also said the recommendation is for the position to be permanent, and reporting directly to the chief administration officer.

City CAO Kyle Attanasio said senior management came up with the $75,000 figure for the operating budget because they wanted ensure the position and the community safety and well being committee has financial resources. He gave an example of how some committees have action plans but are frustrated because they have no budget.

“It's not too much, not too little,” he said. “We're trying to find the right temperature of oatmeal there from the three bears.”

However, he said it’s up to council to decide and administration will present options to consider during budget time for it to decide which areas it wants to invest in as a council.

Attanasio also stated that costs associated with the completion of a revised Community Safety and Well Being Plan, another one of council’s directions from the special meeting, could come out of the operating budget.

Administration will present the bylaw motion, with the direction to adjust the salary amount, at the city council meeting for a vote on Jan. 18.

Eric Shih, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source