BUDGET 2020: City of Port Alberni departments ask for more staff

Industrial Heritage Society, SPCA to go over their budgets in Dec. 10 meeting at 6 p.m.

Several City of Port Alberni departments are asking for additional staffing in the 2020-2024 draft budget because of an increased workload.

On Thursday, Dec. 5, Port Alberni city council held the last of three committee of the whole meetings in a row to hear various city departments describe what they want from the overall 2020-2024 budget.

READ MORE: Port Alberni proposes 5.1 percent tax increase for 2020

READ MORE: High staff injury rate, poor condition of parks driving up costs in Port Alberni

READ MORE: Port Alberni Fire Department needs new equipment

City planner Katelyn McDougall said on Thursday that she has some concerns about how she will be able to deliver on council’s strategic priorities, as the planning department is already working over capacity with limited staff and limited resources.

“We’ve seen a 25 percent increase this year alone in the number of applications being processed,” she said. “That means there’s less support for clients, because we’re stretched thinner, and slower processing times.”

The city’s draft budget shows that one additional staff member will be hired next year, and the city has also budgeted $80,000 for consulting services in 2020 to help with updating the Official Community Plan.

Because of this, the planning department’s costs will increase by a whopping 69 percent. In dollar figures, the department’s expenditures are increasing from $375,743 in 2019 to $462,660 in 2020.

“I know the 69 percent looks very, very large,” said McDougall. “It’s because we have a very small budget. When you add anything to a small budget, it’s going to look like a big increase.”

Wilf Taekema, director of engineering and public works, is also requesting an increase in staffing, with one part-time position becoming full-time.

Council has included $1.5 million in the draft capital plan over the next three years for a number of projects to revitalize Third Avenue, Argyle Street and the Harbour Quay entrance. Another goal over the next five years is organics diversion in conjunction with the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, although funding is still to be determined for this initiative.

Taekema is asking for one current half-time engineering technologist position be made into a full-time position.

“That’s our ask around staffing to make sure that all these things get done,” said Taekema.

Thursday also included a presentation from economic development manager Pat Deakin, who said that business retention and attraction is prohibited by rising costs, a changing economy and a slow population growth.

“It’s getting harder and harder for businesses of all sizes to stay afloat,” he said.

There are a number of things the city can do to help. Deakin brought up Langford as an example, as the city has reduced barriers for local businesses by charging only a one-time business license fee. Port Alberni businesses pay an annual fee.

Port Alberni should also be investing in lifestyle and beautification in order to grow the population, he added.

Council will continue budget meetings on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. Tuesday’s meeting will include a presentation from the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society (WVIIHS), with a proposed five-year business plan for the Alberni Pacific Railway.

Meetings are livestreamed and budget presentations will be uploaded to the City of Port Alberni’s website at www.portalberni.ca/budget the day after the presentation is made public.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberni school district takes a week off to plan for online education

All buildings and playgrounds in School District 70 closed to the public

Vancouver Island farmers demand on-site slaughter

COVID-19 pandemic puts supply chains at risk, says group

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

COVID 19: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, other First Nations mobilize resources

Some Indigenous communities are enacting emergency measures to cope during pandemic

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions should include ferries, operators say

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Cruise ships, one with COVID-19 on board, carry Canadians covertly through Panama Canal

Zaandam, Rotterdam pass through canal under cover of darkness in face of local protests

’The energy sector is destroyed beyond repair’: expert on COVID-19’s impact on economy

‘That’s never been heard of before; no one sells oil for $4 a barrel.’ – Dan McTeague

LifeLabs reducing public hours as it assists with COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus tests not done at B.C. patient centres, referrals only

Most Read