City employee calls for better communication

by Phil Ambroziak

A breakdown in communications must be addressed if city staff are going to continue to do their jobs both efficiently and effectively.

That was the message shared by waterworks manager Tracey Wolfe during the Oct. 14 meeting of Meadow Lake council. It was the first opportunity Wolfe had to meet publicly with members of council following what she described as a recent miscommunication between her department and public works that resulted in the temporary closure of a handful of businesses along Highway 4.

In late September, the city was criticized by owners and management at the Subway restaurant and KFC on 9th Street West after both businesses were informed the local water supply would be shut off to accommodate the ongoing watermain looping project. Plans changed, however, and the water remained on with no further notice given to the proprietors.

This concerned councillor Curtis Paylor, who questioned who is supposed to coordinate communications between the two departments.

“Where is this communication being lost?” he asked.

Wolfe said the message simply isn’t making it to her department.

“We’re not being notified when public works is going to do digs or shut off someone’s water,” she said. “All we need is that simple phone call or text message if they’re planning to shut off water and do some work. We’ve had a few incidents lately where we learned about things after the fact.”

Paylor went on to say he was contacted by the affected business owners at the time of the recent shut off, stating they were primarily concerned with the city’s decision to proceed with that particular stage of the project on a Friday – one of the busiest days of the week for the restaurants in terms of customers. Originally, the water was supposed to go out Friday, Oct. 3 and remain off throughout Saturday, Oct. 4. It remained on when a valve problem was discovered, but no additional notice was given to the businesses.

“We need to make sure we’re recognizing the fact people still need to do business,” Paylor said. “Right now, it seems we have a communication barrier.”

Wolfe agreed, as did councillor Conrad Read who suggested such matters be communicated to city manager Diana Burton who could then ensure the other department or party is indeed made aware of what exactly is happening.

“If you go through her, it might help alleviate the problem,” Read said.

Wolfe wasn’t too certain of this, however, noting it could just end up involving another person and possibly muddying things even further.

“Maybe, but I think she should be involved,” Read continued. “As city administrator, she should know what’s going on.”

In terms of the recent shut off along Highway 4, Wolfe said neither she nor Burton were made aware of what happened until it was too late.

Burton was not in attendance for the Oct. 14 meeting.

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