Tracking the service requests from Woodlands County residents in a way that helps Council stay on top

·4 min read

Woodlands County added a Service Tracker to their arsenal in April of 2021, along with a new website, which tracks service requests from residents. County residents can send a request through staff or the newly updated website. Since April 15, 2021, 307 requests have been tracked in the system up to November 30. Of those, a vast majority, 89 percent, came through submission to staff members, and the remaining eleven percent went through the website.

During the last year's meeting for Woodlands County Council held on December 22, Administration showcased how the Service Tracker works by giving a breakdown of the requests received. Not surprisingly, most submissions centred on Roadway Conditions, with 252 (81 percent) requests. Next in the lineup was 35 submissions having to do with signage, which accounted for 11 percent. The last ones listed were four submissions each for Snow Plow Flags, Development Permits, Recreation Site Maintenance, two each for Transfer Stations and Dog Complaints, and one apiece for Airport, Accounts Payable, Tax Certificates & Payment, Bulk Water Stations, and Weed Control. The average length of time from receipt to the close of a request is fourteen days.

Woodlands County CAO Gordon Frank explained that this was the first opportunity for Administration to present findings to Council since the program began. "This report can be changed, anything that you further want, broken down to more details. It's just our first kick at the cat to provide it to Council." Councillor Alan Deane said the information presented was great. He asked about the fourteen-day average for a request to be closed, saying that it seemed long. "The way I read that is that somebody inputs a service concern, and fourteen days later, it's closed."

Mr. Frank said the policy stated that they have two business days to respond and acknowledge the request. "Then the work may go out and be done within a week, and the individual sits down on Monday morning and closes the file. If the file is open for more than 30 days, we then send out another response saying that we are still working on the issue. We let the individual know that we haven't forgotten about it. Sometimes it depends on the request. It might be to open up farmland access in the spring, so that number is a little misleading sometimes because you might get one request that you don't close for a long time."

Mayor John Burrows said the Service Tracker was a new thing that the previous Council created. "This is the first report that I've seen. How much more detail can we get on this? The one thing that I'm seeing here is 81 percent Roadway Conditions. So, there are 252 Service Tracker requests that came in under Roadway Conditions, and I don't know whether that's ditch mowing or access or drainage or snowplowing or the shoulder is crumbling or the line painting or whatever. Infrastructure is probably our biggest service that we provide to people, roads, and probably the biggest cost and the biggest thing that we get feedback on from residents. Is there a way you can break that out in here so that Council understands?"

Mr. Frank nodded his head with a smile. "The answer is yes. This is the first time in front of Council. If Council wants to say that because the majority of our requests are Roadway Conditions, can we break it down? Absolutely we can. I got the nod from the individual that looks after it." Mayor Burrows asked how many subcategories Mr. Frank felt the information could be broken down into for better clarity. "I think there's twelve to fourteen of them. I'm going off of recollection. Then there's miscellaneous ones sometimes. We had a request captured about duck crossings on a road," explained Mr. Frank.

Councillor Jeremy Wilhelm said that his division nearly doubles every other division looking at the report. "I would like more information if possible. Could we have the potentiality of having a monthly mailout with ongoing concerns, or do we want this brought to Council all the time? I'm pushing all my residents onto this system as much as possible. Maybe that's why I have so many requests in my area. I think when these are coming up, I'm going to hear about it almost as much as you do. It helps me with my interaction with people when they are calling me if I know that the complaints are happening before they are calling me. I really like the system, and I think having more information from it regularly helps me as a Councillor to be better at my job."

Councillor Wilhelm motioned to send the Service Tracker report to the newly created Governance and Priorities Committee for further discussion and tweaking.

Serena Lapointe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press

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