A study of the Grey County Transportation Department is recommending some major changes and increased staff hiring over the next several years.
Grey County Director of Transportation Services Pat Hoy presented the report at county council’s meeting on June 9. County staff have been working with a consultant on an organizational review of the department since September 2021. It has been more than a decade since the last look at the structure of the department.
Hoy said there have been major changes in the workload for the department over the last decade. Around the county, growth continues at a rapid rate, several key long-time employees are nearing retirement and hiring staff has become more difficult over time.
The report recommends the addition of eight staff to the transportation department. The biggest change would see a manager of administration and associated support positions added to the overall structure.
Hoy explained this would not all happen at once.
“We’re not asking to hire eight people today,” he said. “Big changes are coming and it’s important for us to get those positions filled with competent staff.”
According to Hoy, the staff complement has remained relatively the same over ten years. He said that has resulted in some of the larger projects in front of the department falling behind. He said the additional administrative support would get the department out of the situation of some larger projects being set aside for more pressing concerns. The report recommends a phased approach to the new hiring over the next several years.
A preliminary budget estimate forecasted that the two positions staff would like to add for 2023 would cost $251,900. One position in 2024 would cost $97,600 and five future positions would cost $507,900.
The report received praise from members of county council.
“It’s a great report and a lot of material is covered,” said Southgate Deputy Mayor Brian Milne. “It’s a testament to the staff we have had and do have that they have been able to do the job up to this point.”
The Blue Mountains Mayor Alar Soever said he was happy to see a new project leader position for transportation projects and strategy. Soever likened this position to his town’s decision to hire a manager of capital projects. He said that position has helped his municipality save money on bigger projects.
“I think the need for additional staff looks like a big budget number, but it’s hard to measure how much you saved on capital projects,” said Soever. “Your department is doing a great job. We always look at the cost of these things, but it does produce savings in the long run.”
Grey Highlands Deputy Mayor Aakash Desai asked what the county is doing to fill the open jobs.
“We’re saying we need more people. Do we have a strategy on how we’re going to fill those positions?” Desai said.
Hoy said the county has made a lot of progress on that front. He said the county used to have a list of seasonal employees that was 15-20 people long. He said that has been eliminated and they now hire full-time positions. In addition, the county offers courses, training, new experiences, the opportunity to advance and the chance to work in a “cutting edge” environment.
“We’ve done a fairly decent job of getting people. The main thing is: people want full time,” he said.
Council voted in favour of the report and the implementation of its recommendations.
Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca