Mayor Don McCormick hosted the first of his monthly Lunch with the Mayor at City Hall on Wednesday, January 14, 2015.
Twenty-three people turned out to share lunch and a little conversation, give a few suggestions and ask some questions.
For the first meeting, McCormick went through his To Do List, and that took up the majority of the hour and a half event.
He began with communication, which according to McCormick is something that you can never do well enough. However, he said there has been a start in that area with weekly news columns in the Bulletin on Thursdays and trying to engage through the City’s and McCormick’s personal Facebook pages.
“This brown bag lunch is an example of what we re trying to do around communication,” he said.
He also spoke about customer service. The taxpayers of Kimberley were essentially customers, he said and should expect a certain standard.
“How do we respond to complaints as they come in? Are we communicating back as quickly as possible about what we are doing about it? Residents are customers and we are in place to serve our customers, the public.”
A similar theme over many of the Mayor’s comments was that there were no sacred cows — whether it had to do with facilities or practices, just because something has always been done one way, there was no reason it had to continue that way.
For example, a priority is a Facilities Assessment.
“The city owns a lot of buildings, some quite old. There is a lot of money tied up in them all. What repairs are required? Just because we have a building doesn’t mean we have to have it forever. It needs discussion.”
A facility review leads into another new idea, a sports council. McCormick says he’d like all community sports organizations to begin looking at what they’d like to see for sports facilities in ten years.
“The Marysville Arena ice plant was just one of a whole bunch of issues. Rather than waiting for breaks, we need a plan. Otherwise you pour all this money into a things as they break and in the end you’ve spent the money and still have an old building. This is also a huge opportunity to look at sharing facilities.”
There was also discussion on the City’s two major projects — the flume and the SunMine — and the perception by taxpayers that the City is unable to manage large projects.
McCormick said that there was roughly $3 million left to complete Phase Ii and “If it doesn’t come in under $3 million, we will not complete it this year.”
McCormick said that Phase I was being assessed as to where the cost overruns occurred. The report was being done by City CAO Scott Sommerville, who said that as he came on board after Phase I, he could be an independent auditor in this case.
“I definitely feel taxpayers have lost confidence in our ability to manage big projects,” Sommerville said. “We need to fix that.”
McCormick said that Council would have a “robust” discussion on the cost over runs.
“It’s not going to happen again,” he said. “It can’t happen again.
As for the SunMine, McCormick acknowledged that it was behind schedule but said the City could do nothing but lobby BC Hydro.
“BC Hydro has never plugged a solar farm into the grid before. They are being super cautious. We are pushing them as much as possible. That’s why it went back to 1 megawatt. We’d like to see it go back to 2. The business case at one megawatt is very tight.”
Also discussed were plans to review the OCP and the Sustainability Plan, the Infrastructure Review, Transportation Plan and cutting red tape.