By Cole Parkinson
The Municipal District of Taber council is exploring how they can best approach after-hours communications with M.D. residents.
During the Regional Enforcement report at the M.D. of Taber’s regular council meeting on August 28, Coun. Tamara Miyanaga had questions about how after hours calls were processed whether it be complaints, questions or requests for their community peace officers.
In terms of the CPO’s and how they receive calls throughout the day and night, there are a number of different ways they are contacted.
“There are a variety of different ways. We do get called by the front desk, so they take complaints from citizens in the community. Sometimes they are referred to by other M.D. staff, for example, M.D. parks may have a complaint and they will get ahold of me or the community peace officers. They also have a direct line and sometimes people will call that to get ahold of them. Occasionally it comes from the RCMP, they get a report about animals on a roadway or something they can’t deal with in their capacity so they pass it to us. It’s rare but it does occur,” said Kirk Hughes, M.D. Regional Enforcement Services Sergeant.
Another question was around how calls were taken during the weekend, which Hughes answered they would be redirected to another local agency.
“It would go straight to the RCMP,” he said.
He also added they get social media requests through Facebook but he encourages people not to use that route as the account isn’t monitored all day.
For CPO calls, Miyanaga inquired about how many of them come from M.D. residents.
“I would say 100 per cent come from residents, everything outside of the M.D. gets referred to other agencies,” answered Hughes.
For other divisions within the M.D., phone lines vary and depending on the options the callers choose, they could end at different lines.
With an unclear path when phoning in, council wasn’t sure that was the best way to approach addressing issues that residents have.
“If everyone has a direct line, we could be running all over,” said Miyanaga.
Staff did bring up the fact that the idea of having one line to streamline the process had been discussed at one point by administration.
Currently, though, calls are transferred to the different department heads which may leave some gaps.
“When it’s going directly to staff no one except that staff member is tracking it, and we have no idea. I think it is something in the future we need to look at,” said Coun. John Turcato.
He also suggested moving in the direction of a one-line system much like they did for the overland flooding in the spring.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a road complaint, weed complaint,” added Turcato.
Staff was also in favour of having a paper trail for when calls come in.
While they all liked having the opportunity to address the concerns head-on with talks directly with the individuals, having it all come through one line would streamline the entire process for all divisions.
“It never hurts to have a record of these events, it shows it has been dealt with if there is an issue. There is a certain level of interaction and service of being able to call the individual directly, as long as that process leads down that road, I think it would be an effective one,” stated Craig Pittman, director of infrastructure. “It’s certainly worth a review to see what we are currently doing and if there are areas to improve.”
Other staff members have been in situations where they contacted after hours and had to navigate where to send the call.
“As an example, last night (Sept. 27) I got an email and depending on which option they picked, certain voicemails go to certain people. The general box goes to me,” said Bryan Badura, director of corporate services.
Councillors were in favour of pursuing a way to streamline the entire call line process for all departments.
“It isn’t just CPO’s, it’s other areas that we have been discussing as a council,” added Miyanaga.
A motion was made to review how comments, concerns and complaints came into the M.D. and how they are dealt with, and was passed unanimously by council.