The City of Fernie is actively applying for a grant through the Ministry of Transportation. (Photo Submitted)

City of Fernie seeks to hire more staff

More staff hours are needed on a temporary basis to open and clean dry space facilities

City of Fernie councillors have voted to increase funding to meet staffing requirements at city facilities after community groups lobbied for more indoor dry space be made available.

In a report to council, manager of parks, facilities and recreation, Brett Logan, said that staff were stretched to capacity manning facilities that were already open with limited hours, such as the Fernie Memorial Arena and Fernie Aquatic Centre, and that there were no additional staff hours to fully staff the Community Centre and Max Turyk Gymnasium as they were opened to bookings as well.

“The intent of the report is to make clear there are no existing staff to carry out the requirements of cleaning, monitoring and disinfecting these facilities with the addition of advancing programming and services to other areas like the arena,” said Logan.

Logan said the need for gym space was intensified by School District 5 not opening its own facilities to public use, and that following the announcement of a phased re-opening of facilities, city staff had been “inundated with requests for indoor facility bookings.”

Logan had been asked at the Oct. 19 Committee of the Whole meeting to prepare a report identifying what additional resources his department needed in order to speed up the progressive opening of more facilities while meeting COVID safety protocols, after council and staff were lobbied by community groups to increase access to much-needed indoor facilities for community activities.

In the report presented at the Oct. 26 Regular Council meeting, Logan requested that funding adjustments and resourcing re-allocation be made to accommodate an increase in direct staffing costs to the tune of $14,000 for the remainder of 2020 (for job description changes) and $13,500 in 2021, and an additional $8,400 per month for janitorial staff for 2021 in order for staff hours to be spread more efficiently across city facilities, and more staff to be hired on a temporary basis.

The department of parks, facilities and recreation currently has one full-time equivalent janitor on the books, with that janitor responsible for cleaning the Fernie Court House, City Hall, Community Centre, Operations Building, Max Turyk common areas, Downtown Washrooms, and laundry.

Logan reported that the janitor’s workload required assistance from other city staff prior to COVID-19, and since then had increased significantly, so proposed to councillors a part-time janitor be hired in order to shoulder some of the workload and cleaning requirements with regards to COVID-compliance.

Logan’s report also recommended a restructure of staffing requirements at the Fernie Aquatic Centre, and the re-allocation of part of a maintenance worker’s responsibilities from the Outdoor Rink to other city facilities.

City councillors voted unanimously to support the motion.

READ MORE: City of Fernie to extend pilot snow removal program
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