Lack of city staff thwarts Campbellton plan

There is not enough staff at city hall to work with Campbellton residents and business owners to improve their neighbourhood

There is not enough staff at city hall to work with Campbellton residents and business owners  to improve their neighbourhood, according to a city report.

Campbellton First – a lobby group formed last fall to bring attention to Campbellton’s deficiencies – is willing to work with the city to come up with a strategy to clean-up the neighbourhood.

Council directed city staff two weeks ago to look into the feasibility of an in-house improvement plan that would rely heavily on the strength of community efforts rather than city money.

However, Ross Blackwell, the city’s acting manager of operations, reported that city staff’s involvement is not possible.

“Currently, there is no capacity to undertake this project in-house given the significant staff vacancies in the Land Use Services department,” said Blackwell, who is also the city’s land use manager, in a report to council.

He acknowledged Campbellton stakeholders’ interest in partnering with the city to achieve their goals.

“The Campbellton First representatives have indicated a desire to work with the city to explore opportunities to beautify and improve the liveability of their neighbourhood,” Blackwell said. “Staff have met with a number of representatives from the Campbellton neighbourhood to discuss opportunities, constraints, and options associated with strategic improvements.”

Coun. Ron Kerr has also liaised with Campbellton First and since his election to council in November has championed the Campbellton improvement initiative.

It was Kerr who put forth the motion to have staff report back on a Neighbourhood Action Strategy for Campbellton.

“This is an opportunity to support the community of Campbellton which has been overlooked for far too long,” Kerr said at a council meeting April 3. “We can’t let this opportunity pass. They need our support and they’re willing to do the hard work.”

Blackwell said although there are not enough resources at city hall to do the work, there may be other options.

“Retaining the services of a consulting firm is another approach,” he said.

“However, there is no capacity (staff) to project manage a consultant during 2012.”

Blackwell said if the city chose to go with a consultant, it could expect to pay approximately $20,000-$45,000, depending on the scope of the project.

Brian Shaw, who operates Canaccord right in the heart of Campbellton, appeared before council last October to ask the city for $40,000 to conduct a revitalization plan for the neighbourhood.

Council never did grant that request.

Shaw was scheduled to speak again to council at Tuesday’s meeting after the Mirror went to press.

Shaw and Campbellton business owner Jim DeHart were expected to provide council with an update on the work of Campbellton First.