|City Manager Robert Long has
taken on the duties of City Planner
following the retirement of
We first noted that the now retired City Planner was no longer part of the team at City Hall back on June 12th, observing that since the March 9th session, which was his last appearance on a Council night, the Corporate Administrator Rosa Miller and City Manager Robert Long had been handling the public presentation duties of the planner's job sheet.
Councillor Adey provided for an introduction of that theme on Monday evening as he led off the discussion returning to the topic of planning issues for the community, first speaking to the retirement of the City Planner and the way that the City is handling planning issues at the moment particularly in these days of the Pandemic response.
In particular the City Councillor asked for some clarity on the the current situation and a sense of the logic for the public, as to how the City is approaching the replacement of Senior officials, so the public has a sense of the caution associated with those decisions.
The City Manager Robert Long handled the question, making note of the unusual time of COVID and observing that as a staff, the city is taking a different path towards the planning aspect than what has been done in the past.
"Given the circumstances with COVID, I think we're as a staff being careful not to set ourselves into a long term strategy that may have been true and appropriate before COVID, because at the moment we're not really clear yet exactly what kind of revenue losses and circumstances we're going to find ourselves in as a result of a number of parts of the organization where our revenues are down.
So rather than going out and just sort of replicating automatically what we've always done before, we're actually taking these moments, which I think are really good management moments to look and say; is this the best way for us to do things, could we do things more effectively.
And I think that we're going to go through that process and as we move towards the fall and Council and the staff understand what the implications are in terms of our budget this year then we will have a better understanding about what we should probably do in terms of long term" -- City Manager Robert Long at Monday night's City Council session
For the moment Mr. Long outlined that the city is re-substituting the City Manager for the City Planner, noting it may not be the best thing in the world, but that it is a case of trying to make do with what they've got, rather than replacing it as they had with the old system.
Mr. Long also noted that this process is something that they will follow with every part of the organization as the city navigates the near future.
"If there is an opportunity and someone retires or whatever then we will look to say is the right thing to do from a management point of view moving forward, or should we wait until it is clear what the revenues are" -- City Manager Robert Long
Mr Long further observed that in the case of planning they do have a contract planner in place towards the OCP (iPlan Planning and Development) and if required they could step in towards some current planning matters as well, with the City looking to a cautious approach towards developing a best long term strategy towards the fall.
Adding on the City Planner functions will make for yet another file for the City Manager to juggle, in addition to the actual range of duties he already has with the day to day operations of the City's bureaucracy.
Beyond those duties, Mr. Long is also one of the leading figures when it comes to the Watson Intermodal Trade and Logistics Park, as well as serving as one of three directors of Prince Rupert Legacy Incorporated.
In addition to those tasks, the City Manager is a sitting member of the Board for the city owned communications company CityWest, serving as the shareholders representative on the Board.
At Monday's Council session, no other members of Council raised any questions, or offered comment as to the apparent new direction for the City's planning office; that despite what is looking to be a very hectic period when it comes to planning for the future.
As we noted two weeks ago, coming up over the horizon is the much hailed overhaul of the City's Official Community Plan, the expansive plans for BC Housing on Kootenay, as well as a significant housing project proposed by the Lax Kw'alaams Band Council, though little has been heard of that project in recent months.
Still, it does seem like a fairly active period of time ahead for planning for the community, something that some may think requires some larger oversight and a position dedicated towards planning issues and accessible for public engagement, rather than just another task on the to do list for the already busy City Manager.
It's also a curious path and points towards where Council may have its priorities, when you consider some of the other areas of Civic Government that have department heads and representatives still in place.
Since we have to wait until later this summer for an updated list, a sample of those positions cane be found from the SOFI documentation from 2018, which provides a glimpse into the range of civic officials currently in place at City Hall.
Also of note from Monday, while City Council finally acknowledged that the City Planner has officially left the building; no one spoke to his over ten years of service in Prince Rupert, something that should have at least merited a thank you from the Council members.
It's unfortunate and even somewhat discourteous, that they let another opportunity slip by without making mention of Mr. Krekic's long standing past service to the community.
The discussion on the new approach for the planning office can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive, starting at the 18 minute mark.
For more notes related to Monday's Council session, see our Council Timeline feature here.
A wider overview of past Council discussion themes can be found from our Council archive page here.