Burns Lake rec review: rec staff-council tensions

Staff reported a general feeling of not being supported by council

After Lakes District News filed a Freedom of Information Act request, the Village of Burns Lake has released the full report of its recreation organizational review, which was completed last June.

Council had previously shared a summary of the document, ignoring repeated requests to release the full document.

Burns Lake Mayor Chris Beach notes that the released document is still in “draft form” and contains “inaccuracies that require correction,” but does not clarify which parts of it are inaccurate.

According to the document, relations between recreation staff and elected officials have worsened over the years, with staff reporting a general feeling of not being supported by council.

“There have been instances where individuals have taken photographs while they [staff] work and comments have been made in passing about [staff] not working hard enough,” states the review, which was conducted by Acumen HR Solutions earlier this year.

“It was suggested that there is a poor relationship between recreation staff and council and this has resulted in high turnover,” adds the report. “Efforts have been made to improve relations such as inviting council to judge events.”

Meanwhile council members expressed concerns regarding staff’s use of work time, noting public complaints about the number of staff compared to the number of customers, and saying that staff do not appear to be working hard – with water jugs that are empty, and garbage that needs to be emptied.

Suggestions to improve the perception of staff include looking at hours of operation, having recreation staff assist the public works crew at Spirit Square, and developing a “solid work plan” with specific duties during the slower months.

In order to improve fiscal responsibility, the review also suggests “adequate budgeting to include realistic staffing provisions.”

But while elected officials expressed concerns with regard to recreation staff, patrons for the most part had positive feedback on the customer service experience they received.

“A number of comments that staff are friendly, welcoming, helpful and display a positive attitude led some to suggest that this is in part due to the recreation director’s leadership skills,” states the report, referring to former director of recreation Dooseon Jung.

The report adds that recreation staff value their positions and enjoy working with the recreation department to provide recreation services to the public.

Staff expressed some concerns, however, including working alone, proximity to intoxicated individuals in Spirit Square and the lack of a check in procedure. Staff also noted concerns with regard to the one-week planned closure last August that required all staff to take their vacation; lower wages than other similar positions in the area; and lack of staff discount for use of the Lakeside Multiplex.

The village’s recreation department has been dealing with a significant increase in its budget since the Lakeside Multiplex opened in 2014. The organizational review was suggested by councillor Kelly Holliday earlier this year to find ways to reduce some of the costs associated with the local recreation facilities. The review cost taxpayers $12,000.

The review is available to the public at the village office. As of last week, the report was not available online.



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