Coun­cil ap­proves se­ries of ma­jor changes af­ter DFFH re­port City to run YaraCen­tre, third-party man­age­ment to take over Mo­saic Place

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News - Randy Palmer - Moose Jaw Ex­press

Mo­saic Place and YaraCen­tre will be tak­ing dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions con­cern­ing man­age­ment and ad­min­is­tra­tion, af­ter the most re­cent meet­ing of Moose Jaw City Coun­cil.

City man­ager Jim Puf­falt de­liv­ered his coun­cil-re­quested re­port on po­ten­tial Down­town Fa­cil­ity and Field House strate­gic di­rec­tions, bring­ing for­ward five rec­om­men­da­tions that were all passed and ac­cepted by coun­cil – but not without sig­nif­i­cant de­bate.

Fol­low­ing coun­cil’s de­ci­sions:

Moose Jaw Down­town and Soc­cer/Field-House Fa­cil­i­ties Inc. will be wound down over the next year and con­trol of the fa­cil­i­ties will be­come line fa­cil­i­ties of the City of Moose Jaw.

YaraCen­tre and staff will trans­fer to the parks and recre­ation depart­ment.

Mo­saic Place will act as a stand-alone fa­cil­ity and a third-party man­age­ment and op­er­a­tional com­pany will be sought with the in­tent of sign­ing a five-year con­tract. Mo­saic Place staff will trans­fer to the man­age­ment com­pany.

The city will ac­tively pur­sue events for Mo­saic Place, with the city man­ager hav­ing pur­chas­ing author­ity up to $150,000 and any show over that amount go­ing to ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee for re­view and ap­proval. Quar­terly re­ports will be pro­vided to coun­cil for both fa­cil­i­ties.

The de­ci­sions bring about mas­sive changes to how the two fa­cil­i­ties are gov­erned, with the be­lea­guered DFFH board of di­rec­tors dis­solved once and for all and a com­plete re­vi­sion in how things will be gov­erned go­ing for­ward.

Coun. Dawn Luh­n­ing called for a mo­tion to ac­cept all five aspects of the re­port.

“I do be­lieve this is the ap­pro­pri­ate move for these fa­cil­i­ties at this time,” she said. “Un­for­tu­nately, they’ve had their trou­ble over the years, but it’s time to get a han­dle on all the good things those fa­cil­i­ties are able to of­fer the com­mu­nity. When these fa­cil­i­ties were first a dream in this city, it di­vided the com­mu­nity and it’s time to stop that and have some­thing that’s go­ing to cre­ate a lit­tle bit of good. I think those fa­cil­i­ties and the staff, and the city, need a pos­i­tive story out of this and these rec­om­men­da­tions are right for the fa­cil­ity at this time.”

Coun. Brian Swan­son voiced his op­po­si­tion to the plan in it’s en­tirety, with a ma­jor point of con­tention be­ing the idea of third-party man­age­ment, based on prior ex­pe­ri­ence with such com­pa­nies.

“The idea that third party is go­ing to some­how turn a mir­a­cle for Moose Jaw is a bit naive be­cause their fo­cus is mak­ing money, and the money they make doesn’t stay in Moose Jaw, it goes back to Philadel­phia and New Jersey (where the man­agers are from),” Swan­son said, adding that the ser­vices they pro­vide are very ex­pen­sive and could pro­vide much more neg­a­tive than pos­i­tive to the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

Coun. Crys­tal Froese took the op­po­site stance, ref­er­enc­ing a host of re­search she con­ducted in­volv­ing con­ver­sa­tions with other cities fea­tur­ing third-party man­age­ment of ma­jor recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties. She pointed to the city of Pen­tic­ton, B.C. and the South Okana­gan Events Cen­tre as an ex­am­ple, where a third-party sys­tem has been so suc­cess­ful the 5,000-seat fa­cil­ity is on the verge of be­ing paid off af­ter open­ing in 2008, in ad­di­tion to bring­ing in $20 mil­lion a year in rev­enue.

“That Events Cen­tre is com­pletely trans­par­ent; all their doc­u­ments are com­pletely open to the pub­lic and city coun­cil is in­volved in their process,” Froese said. “It’s a very, very healthy en­vi­ron­ment and I can’t see why we can’t have the same thing here. That’s what the ci­ti­zens ex­pect from this in­vest­ment and they aren’t get­ting it. “There’s the say­ing that do­ing the same thing over and over again and ex­pect­ing the same re­sult is in­san­ity. Well, that’s kind of what this has felt like,” she con­tin­ued. “I re­ally be­lieve this mo­tion will get us to where we should have been right from the start. It is ab­so­lutely the right de­ci­sion for our city and I think we’re go­ing to see re­sults from third-party man­age­ment within 12 months. They’re that pro­fes­sional; they are in it to win and do as much as they can for the com­mu­nity and on be­half of the com­mu­nity. The whole idea that they’re just there for dig­ging in our pock­ets is not true, it’s not fac­tual... their busi­nesses wouldn’t sur­vive, no one would use them if that were the case.”

Coun. McMann also voiced his op­po­si­tion to the en­tirety of the plan, say­ing the lack of park­ing and de­sign and lay­out of the build­ing and con­fer­ence fa­cil­i­ties makes at­tract­ing clients dif­fi­cult to be­gin with and that the costs of a third-party sys­tem would be pro­hib­i­tive.

“The re­port pre­sented to us tonight says the num­ber one ob­jec­tive is bring­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity and gover­nance back to city coun­cil, and with a third-party man­ager re­port­ing di­rectly to the city man­ager, I don’t see how that’s ac­com­plished,” McMann said, adding that he also dis­agreed with how third-party man­age­ment would en­hance ac­count­abil­ity and share re­sources and staffing.

The first and fourth mo­tions both passed 4-3, with Swan­son and McMann uni­ver­sally op­posed to the rec­om­men­da­tions, Coun. Heather Eby vot­ing against the dis­so­lu­tion of DFFH Inc. and Coun. Chris War­ren against the city man­ager pur­su­ing events for Mo­saic Place.

****

Coun­cil ap­proved the re­place­ment of the city’s pay­roll / hu­man re­source sys­tem with a mod­ern, cloud-based sys­tem pro­vided by the com­pany Cerid­ian at a cost of $80,400.

The base of the cur­rent sys­tem had been in use since 1992, with up­grades in 2010 and 2013 act­ing as stop­gaps to keep things run­ning. Over the last year and half, the sys­tem has run into ma­jor dif­fi­cul­ties, to the point pro­duc­ing pay­rolls has been com­pro­mised.

The re­quest – pre­sented by city comptroller Sandy Camp­bell – was made with the goal of find­ing and im­ple­ment­ing a re­place­ment be­fore a cat­a­strophic fail­ure.

The mo­tion passed unan­i­mously.

****

Coun. Swan­son pre­sented a mo­tion for the City of Moose Jaw to voice op­po­si­tion to the change in the pro­vin­cial mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion day from the fourth Wed­nes­day in Oc­to­ber to the sec­ond Wed­nes­day in Novem­ber, with po­ten­tial in­clement weather the chief con­cern.

The mo­tion passed unan­i­mously.

****

Coun­cil re­ceived the sched­ule for up­com­ing bud­get com­mit­tee meet­ings, with the first meet­ing tak­ing place Dec. 3 and fea­tur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion of the bud­get. Fol­low­ing meet­ings take place on Dec. 5 and Dec. 12, both at 5:30 p.m., and on Dec. 17 fol­low­ing the reg­u­lar meet­ing of city coun­cil.

Moose Jaw city man­ager Jim Puf­falt de­liv­ers the DFFH strate­gic di­rec­tions re­port that re­sulted in a se­ries of ma­jor changes re­gard­ing YaraCen­tre and Mo­saic Place.

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