Sunday, May 18, 2014

Problem 3: Inefficient Service Delivery

I believe the Grande Prairie area could be much more efficient in how it delivers its municipal services.

Perhaps the most glaring example is in regards to fire service.  The region has several fire departments, each which only operate within their boundaries*.  To highlight the ridiculousness of this, we have to look no further than to a fire that happened recently in Silverpointe, just west of the City border, directly south of the Airport.  There is a City fire station literally a few blocks away from this subdivision, yet, because it's located in the County, fire trucks had to come from the Dunes fire station and Wembley.  Just crazy.

In addition to the poor coordination of services this model gives us, it is more expensive.  By not coordinating on the location and number of fire detachments, I believe we have more than are needed for the region.  We also have to have a separate management staff as well as additional fire personnel to man all the stations.  Thus, the region is paying a lot more for fire service than it needs to be.

Another major example is when it comes to development services.  Each municipality has separate land use bylaws and engineering standards for development.  Therefore, developers and builders have to navigate through 7 different sets of policies when building in the GP region.  They also have to coordinate with multiple development authorities as they build.  This can be very time consuming.  In addition to multiple development authorities, they have to deal with different building inspection offices.  All in all, not a very efficient system.

We find another example in our GIS (Geographic Information Systems) departments.  These are the people that map out our municipalities plotting everything from land ownership boundaries to locations of trees.  To get detailed maps of the entire area, you have to go to 7 different municipalities and can end up having to decipher multiple map systems.  Again, not too efficient.  Oh, did I forget to mention the cost of running multiple departments...

Another major example is in transportation.  I think our road networks could be much more efficient if we had better coordination of road systems and looked at them with a regional focus.  For example, I think it would make much more sense to have our truck route coming from the south on Hwy 40, take a turn going west on the correction line and continue north along the County's Range Road 63 which turns into the City's 116 St and then back into RR 63 before hitting the Hwy 43X bypass.  This would alleviate traffic on 108 St. keeping heavy trucks away from major residential and commercial hubs as well as the new hospital.

Before I sound like too much of a downer, I will make note that we do have a number of services that coordinate very well.  Our Disaster and Emergency response systems function well by my estimation.  The Grande Prairie Regional Emergency Partnership (GPREP) brings together the municipalities in the area to have shared plans in case of an emergency.  While not perfect, Aquatera has served well in how it's regionalized water and sewage services. 

So there exists some pretty inefficient service delivery in the region.  You could go through nearly every municipal service and identify areas where it would just make sense to share resources and expertise.  Luckily, there's a few solutions for this.


*There are agreements in place to assist one another in extreme emergencies, but these are very few and far between.


  1. The people who were on previous council and sitting today need to take ownership of this problem and several other city problems you haven't identified here. The plain and simple fact is that city dollars are not spent wisely leading to these inefficiencies in what you identified but many more I would guess. Its the "tip of the iceberg thing" you mention here I would guess. This ineffectiveness is not new but was identified in the run up to election day last year. Now you know more. It's time committee chairs and others accepted responsibility for resulting action or inaction on their roles in committee. They are paid to sit in committee and manage our city finances better. I hope it improves Rory and I hope you can be a beacon for change in that council rather than to deflect or minimize our own internal management concerns. It's time to smell the coffee as the saying goes.

    1. You've absolutely hammered the nail on the head. Just because we are disadvantaged in some respects, it does not give us the license to just sit back and blame the system for everything. We absolutely have to look after our own house, making sure that we are finding internal efficiencies and are managing our dollars wisely. We also need to be looking at where we can improve service delivery with our municipal neighbours. One of the committees I sit on is the City/Council Recreational Board where we're working towards things like trail connectivity. We've also made a commitment to meet with the County on a regular basis, to work out further areas of collaboration. So while we co-exist in an imperfect system, we're trying to make the best of it.

  2. I like your idea of a truck bypass around the city. The mayor said publicly that the current bypass really doesn't bypass anything anymore. What is the city doing about this today? Are we waiting on someone else to build it or is the idea just lip service?

    Another point I need you to clarify is that you feel there is to many fire stations around. I just got a notice telling me that 40% of my taxes go to police and fire departments for the city but yet houses still burn down (like four yesterday), how can this be? Don't get me wrong i love our boys but maybe we need to rethink how we do business internally and not complain about those outside our boarders.