Community wants employees back in band office

Community members want band employees back in the office after the pandemic – at least, according to one elected councillor.

A discussion at Monday’s political liaison meeting on re-structuring elected council meetings and committees turned to talk of employees working from home and asking them to return to their office.

Coun. Hazel Johnson said community members have complained they are unable to reach employees by phone as many continue to work from home after the Covid pandemic moved many employees to remote work.

“I think everyone needs to get back to their workstation and be on site every day just like normal employees have to do in any setting,” said Coun. Johnson.

However, there isn’t enough office space for council employees.

“We all know there’s not much office space,” said Coun. Johnson. “There’s a lot of office space down there. All of those office spaces could be taken over there. Let’s get the employees back to work where they should be and have somebody answering those phones.”

Council was discussing the results of a mid-term report on restructuring meetings and committees. The biggest change during the current test phase of the new structure has been the elimination of committee meetings.

With the elimination of committee meetings, council will only visit issues at meetings where all councillors are present.

The mid-term report said that most employees and councillors surveyed so far are generally in favour of the new structure.

But at least one councillor said committees didn’t have to be eliminated.

“The chairperson was supposed to be updating council on those issues (at committees),” said Coun. Helen Miller. “That’s the part that never happened. They never reported to council on much of anything. That’s where the breakdown of the committees happened.”

She said the elimination of committees has resulted in a feeling of disconnect among the community who used to come to committee meetings to express their concerns before the issues went to general council for a final decision.

“That’s what’s lost with what we’re doing now. I see this whole process as disconnecting from the people. They’re the ones who elected us. That’s who we’re supposed to be working for. I think it would’ve been a lot easier to fix the committees than go through this whole process.

It was also suggested senior staff attend full council meetings to answer questions and state positions on issues.

The interim structure was only supposed to go until the end of October but council voted to extend it until Dec. 16.

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