Penetanguishene council supports increased staffing requests

·3 min read

Staff asked and council granted.

Penetanguishene's staffing complement will be slightly more robust next year, after approval for two part-time contract positions to become full-time jobs in 2021.

The first one was for the position of junior planner, for which Andrea Betty, director of planning and community development, made a case.

"Largely, the report shows the volume and complexity of applications has increased," she said. "It's the primary function of development to process those applications and get development moving through. There's not a second full-time position dedicated to planning. It's a gap in our service for people."

As well, Betty said Penetanguishene is the lowest staffed planning department as compared to its neighbours. She also made a case for increasing the current part-time bylaw contract position to full-time.

With that in mind, Coun. Jill St. Amant asked if staff had looked into sharing services with other municipalities for the planning or bylaw position.

"We have had those discussions with the four North Simcoe municipalities," Betty said. "All three other municipalities are pretty lean in their planning staff complement. They don't have the ability to share their current resources in that department. In the bylaw department, Tiny has a large complement in summer, but there's limited ability for us to share those resources."

The third request was from recreation and community services director Sherry Desjardins, who asked for an additional 80 attendant hours weekly to make the recreation centre's reopening successful and an additional 40 hours for the 2021/2022 ice season.

"This comes as a followup to a previous report with the reopening of the arena," she said. "We had requested we hire additional facility attendants to assist with additional pieces that need to be completed to be compliant with public health. It's been going well. We don't know where we will be later on in 2021."

Coun. George Vadeboncoeur agreed and recommended going beyond the request.

"I felt there was the need within the rec. and community services department to add another full-time staff member," he said. "I was prepared to consider eight months and move to 12 months as we move through a two-year period. The rationale is to provide full-time assistance at the arena for scheduling and knowledge transfer as some of our senior employees are looking to retire."

Vadeboncoeur said a second rationale behind his move was that that facility staff will end up working for the parks department as the ice season winds up.

"There are some maintenance issues at the parks," he said, "and one of the responses I've received is with respect to resource constraint and it's particularly acute when the arena and parks are going at the same time."

Desjardins said she appreciated the consideration, however, facility attendants are very limited in what they can do in other places.

"What would be really impactful would be a facility operator, but that has a greater financial impact," she noted.

Vadeboncoeur said his suggestion to phase in a facility attendant was to soften the effects on the budget.

But Carrie Robillard, director of finance/treausrer, said her recommendation wouldn't change even if the position changed.

"It would still be recommended out of our service delivery review budget line," she said. "The purpose of that was to obviously increase our service levels and improve them. We have been transferring to a service delivery review reserve for the last couple years, so timing wise, this would be good and funding is available through that route."

Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau wanted to know exactly what kind of money was included in that budget item.

"We have $166,000 in the budget line," said Robillard. "That doesn't include money transferred in the reserves."

In the end, the public representatives went ahead with approving funding for a full-time facility operator.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com