City hall's union representatives were surprised by a rejection from city council of an opportunity to expand the conversation around the core services review process.
Tonight's public workshop on the compiled list of suggested opportunities for change is the last community forum for in-person input on the KPMG facilitated review.
CUPE 1048 president Janet Bigelow addressed council Monday night, backed by a gallery full of red t-shirt clad members from her local as well as CUPE 399, and asked for an additional town hall meeting to be added before the end of the process.f
"Throughout this process, I am sure that we [union members] have consulted with as many, if not more, of the general public than the core services review team has," said Bigelow. "Noticeably was the amount of residents who have given up on the core services due to the extreme complexity and length of the survey and reports to date."
Coun. Garth Frizzell supported the union position, and put forward a motion for the select committee on a core services review to add an additional public meeting, which was seconded by Coun. Brian Skakun.
"I don't think we can have too much consultation," said Skakun, adding he was sure the city could find the facilities to hold such an event.
But Mayor Shari Green said adding further consultation would come with an increase to the project's budget since the Ontario-based consulting team would have to be brought back to Prince George.
Coun. Lyn Hall said he also believes consultation is important, but had issues regarding the timeline and associated costs.
"I had said a number of months ago that I was concerned by the end of October timeline because we're going to be looking at budget discussions early on and quite honestly, I think that if we delay those discussions we're going to be behind the eight-ball on the 2013 budget," said Hall.
A delay in getting the consultation notes to the consultants would be a delay through wrapping up the entire process, Green stressed.
"Yes it's complex," she said. "If it was easy, we'd already be done."
Coun. Cameron Stolz, participating via phone, said the number of submissions the public have made regarding concern over the sale of the Four Seasons Pool "just pales in comparison to the number of people who've emailed, called and talked about the challenges we've had with our roads this spring and summer."
The union didn't appreciate that comment, said Bigelow, who said the city-run pool is also important for people who don't own a car.
"But does that make it less important than the potholes or less important than those people who can't afford the vehicle that drives the roads? No," Bigelow said. "We have a responsibility to deliver services to everyone in Prince George - not just the people that have a little bit more money."
In their I Heart PG campaign, union members have made postcards available for members of the community to mail to council with their comments regarding the potential hand over of the Four Seasons Pool and urging the city to "stop cutting public services."
Nearly 300 of those postcards have been received at city hall.
Bigelow said she was hoping council would have been more open-minded about the union's proposal.
"This isn't about having KPMG there, We're not asking them to spend any more money," she said. "We're asking them, council and mayor, to sit and listen face to face to the residents of Prince George. That's what we're asking."
Tonight's public workshop on the suggested opportunities for change takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Civic Centre. The list of 193 opportunities is available on the city's website along with an online survey which will be open for comment until Oct. 8.
The two CUPE locals are hosting a public forum Oct. 16 at the College of New Caledonia in room 1306 at 7 p.m. Toronto's Sean Meagher will be on hand to discuss the KPMG-led core services review his city underwent in 2011.