Vernon council approves temporary assistant

After a month to think about it, Vernon council brought back and passed a motion to hire a temporary planning assistant for one year

It was defeated in July.

But, after a month to think about it, Vernon council brought back and passed a motion to hire a temporary planning assistant for one year at a salary of $84,200.

The defeated motion in July also called for duties to be reallocated amongst current planning staff as development activity in Vernon continues to be robust.

Coun. Dalvir Nahal, who voted against the hiring in July, brought back the motion for reconsideration, which passed. Council Brian Quiring brought back the original motion to hire someone.

“There is a difference between hiring new staff just randomly, and, after last month’s vote going out and seeing a need and talking to builders,” said Nahal. “There is a shortage, there is a delay. If we want to encourage development we need to speed up the process. This is a necessary position.”

Kim Flick, director of community development, told council that all of the city’s current planners and assistants are involved in the development aspect in one measure or another.

“Wherever possible, we have been able to access planners to support development, they are on it,” said Flick. “That’s as much as we can extract from them without dropping significant components of council’s strategic plan or other corporate objectives.”

The original motion passed by a 4-3 margin.

“The work done by this department is a revenue generator for taxpayers,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham. “We hear it all the time, it’s a challenge for developers to get things through city hall. We have to take responsibility for that. We can’t dump it on staff in terms of the capacity they have.”

Councillors Scott Anderson, Bob Spiers and Catherine Lord voted against hiring new staff.

“A number of us in the (election) campaign promised not to hire new staff, and here we are hiring new staff,” said Anderson. “Unless we can have a net zero for 12 months, I won’t support this. I just won’t.”

Lord was calling for reallocation of duties.

“To me, this (hiring) is a knee-jerk reaction,” said Lord. “We have more development so we have to hire someone else to help with that. I can’t see that.

“And temporary-one year always turns into permanent. It does. To me, the priorities are in the wrong place.”