The Campbell River Mirror article yesterday https://www.campbellrivermirror.com/news/council-urged-to-be-prepared-or-be-dashed-on-the-big-rocks-of-financial-instability/?fbclid=IwAR0j5TSNUgQqE57CjzGQe9gqm-6jRH2eq_RmuzHhrqwbxU0vqLxhGaAebe4 included some interesting comments from current City Councilors. I was especially intrigued by the comments about efficiency.
Efficiency is a noun that means the quality or property of being efficient. And efficient means producing with a minimum of waste, expense, or unnecessary effort. On the surface, this appears to be a worthwhile goal at city hall. But I would argue that what we want from Council and staff is effectiveness. Effectiveness is also a noun and is defined as the degree to which something is successful in producing a desired result.
I have attended several council meetings in the last couple years and watched more on-line. I have often found that the biggest inefficiencies are lack of preparation by councilors and their second guessing and questioning of their staff. Staff are hired for their professional credentials and we must trust them to do their jobs. They are the experts in operations, codes, best practices and Council’s job is governance. I have heard staff belittled, questioned and directed to create reports biased to a particular viewpoint, rather than be objective and data-driven. I commit to doing my homework, studying the necessary report and documents that already exist or that may be requested and to seeking out best practices and successes in other communities that can be adapted and implemented locally. I commit to listening to affected and invested residents and businesses.
I have also witnessed many instances of ineffectiveness – which waste everyone’s time and resources. An example would be the recent proposed by-law amendment to limit social services to a particular (and very small) geographic area. Firstly, the ‘problem’ was never clearly defined. I believe we must always ask the question ‘Is this really a problem and if it is, for whom?” and then we can look for solutions that we have the authority to implement. Staff repeatedly told council that we cannot zone for people, only for uses and that many of the suggestions would have unintended consequences because the ‘problem’ had not been defined. The whole exercise was predicated on an exclusionary definition of safety, did not consider resources available or the consequences to the broader community – of individuals, social services and businesses. Council needed to do their own work before passing it to staff and they didn’t.
My core values of equity, diversity and inclusion will serve me to work hard and effectively with Mayor, Council, staff and community to ensure that problems are really problems and that solutions are developed and implemented to the benefit of everyone. Efficiency and effectiveness are created when everyone takes the necessary time to understand, reflect and then work together.