Connecting the dots and keeping people on their feet – a challenge in parking lot 4 yesterday.

By Pepper Parr

February 5, 2014


I like his idea of service based accountability.  I take it to mean that the person responsible for the service is the person accountable – to me.  Have I got that right?

So how would this work?

Anyone having to walk along this stretch of sidewalk to put coins in the parking meter is a brave soul.  This view looks north to the meter.

Let’s try snow removal – specifically the removal of snow from the city parking lots where we pay directly to use the parking spots – the pieces of which went up 25 cents an hour in January.  I can live with that.

Now I know there are people in the parking lot every couple of hours checking the meters because on occasion I have found a piece of paper under the windshield wiper inviting me to have an up close and personal with the cashier at city hall who is going to smile as I remove some cash or a credit card from my wallet.

The view looking south in lot 4 off John Street – notice how they managed to clear the sidewalk in front of the meter but not for the path to the meter.

The meter man will certainly know how icy the lot and the little sidewalk is – but he isn’t accountable for the salting and removal of snow.  But could he not put in a call to which over department is responsible and say: “Hey guys – the pathway in lot 4 is iced over”.

How do I as a citizen know who is accountable and knowing who that person is – what do I do?  Is the city going to give us the telephone numbers for all these people?   A couple of years back General Manager Kim Phillips made it very clear the public would not be given names or phone numbers.  Let’s not have the riff raff getting in the way of all the civil servants beavering away on our behalf.

So – just how is accountability going to work itself down to my level and my concerns?  It is one thing to say that we have an acronym that makes it all very clear;   I just want to know what I can do without having to be on the phone for ten minutes – tying up one of those civil servants working so hard for me.

Call your ward councillor – and if you live in ward 2 – that works; Marianne Meed Ward has been known to slip out of her house on Christmas Day to pick up some garbage left on a street.  Many have found that they don’t actually have to live in the ward to get service from her.  Ticks off the other council members no end when she crosses those ward boundaries.

The service based approach to budgeting makes sense – what isn’t clear is how to connect that service dot and that budget dot to me.

And when that’s done give me some value for the coins I put in that meter.

To be fair, and a more balanced, as some suggest, the Roads and Parks Maintenance people are swamped and there are a lot of roads and sidewalks to be covered.  Do they not have contingency plans for situations like this?  This is Canada, this in Ontario – we do snow!

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