Monday, January 27, 2014

Prince Rupert City Council brings in a recreation "specialist" to increase participation

A surprising notice popped up on the City of Prince Rupert website on Friday, with the posting of a News Release outlining the arrival of Mr. Brent Meunier to the recreation department.

He has apparently been hired on for what is called a short assignment of six months, to initiate a program to revitalize the participation levels of the city's residents at the city's recreation facilities.

It's an interesting development for the City, especially when you frame the latest addition of personnel to the recreation department, in the scope of the much discussed financial struggles we were having some six short months ago.

The decision to hire a recreation specialist seems to have been done very much out of the public glimpse and with little information provided, as to what his job description will provide for, or the cost of the position to the city.

Interestingly enough he appears to have arrived in town rather low on the radar, no mention of the hiring of Mr. Meunier was made at the January 20th public council session, nor it seems was a job posting ever provided for public review for the position he has started.

It all appears to be part of the shift in recreation priorities that the City announced at its Monday council session, wherewith a short discussion, Council introduced the formation of a Recreation Commission.

As we outlined on the blog last Thursday, once that new mechanism is in place, the city will have two council members and six citizen participants in place, prepared to review recreation developments and offer up recommendations on the the theme of Recreation in the city.

Mayor Jack Mussallem outlined the scope of the Commission, as part of the January 24th announcement that advised that Mr. Meunier had already commenced his work with the Recreation Department as of January 20th..

 “Council has heard community concerns on decreasing participation at the Complex and has identified community involvement in improving recreation services as priority... “Council recognizes it has to increase its focus on the Recreation Centre and the Commission is an effective way to engage community in that process.”.

The hiring of a recreation specialist does leave one to wonder the status of duties for the Management Team of the Recreation Department, particularly those of Rudy Kelly, who was listed as the Director of Recreation Services the last time we checked the staff listings of the City's recreation facility.

It would seem to many, that this kind of program should come under the mandate of the Director of Recreation and Community Services. Yet there is no mention of the role of any current Management team member in the  project that was launched on January 20th.

While no one would argue the concept of attracting more users to the city's recreation facilities, it is puzzling why the opportunity would not have at least been offered to current staffers, or even job seeking residents of the city first.

Maybe such a position was offered internally, but with no job posting for recreation specialist found on the city website in recent months and little discussion at public Council sessions about the position, the decision to make this shift in direction at the recreation department, would appear to provide for more questions, than answers.

Among some thoughts, the status of the current recreation staff and what role they may have in this project, the cost and terms of the contract for the newly hired specialist, as well as what impact any of this may have on the Recreation Department budget.

Just a few, of what could be many things which city council members may wish to share details with the public, when it comes to the new approach to the long running concerns over usage of recreation facilities in the city.

In the announcement of January 24th the city outlined how the goal of the new Commission structure is to "improve communications between Council, user groups, community recreation organizations and individual users".

Considering how it's been launched and the surprising nature of it, they would appear to have a bit of work to do on the "communication" aspect of it all.  Perhaps we will learn more about the new direction for recreation at the next council session of February.

For those that like to follow Civic Affairs, we have items of note on other developments from Prince Rupert City Hall to be found on our archive pages.

2014 City Council Session Archives
Discussion Points for City Council

1 comment:

  1. It's funny but where are the stories, the evidence of "community concerns" that justifies this move? Maybe we missed it in the news sources and presentations to Council, and the Mayor would be kind enough to produce examples of these concerns.