Gripe sparks heated exchange
South Glengarry’s deputymayor is once again insisting that the municipality has a “major customer service problem” when dealing with residents who are seeking answers and information from township employees.
“Customer service and communications is very lacking in our municipality, and it has been, I think, for a number of years,” Deputy-Mayor Frank Prevost stated during the March 5 regular council meeting.
“It’s something that has to change and something that this council and administration has to start realizing that we have a major problem with.”
The deputy-mayor says he receives calls, emails and in-person visits from township residents frustrated in their dealings with municipal office staff and department employees on a regular basis.
As an example, Mr. Prevost relayed the experiences of a resident with a prefab sunroom on his property who recently received a registered letter from the township informing him that the structure was not in compliance with municipal bylaws and that he would have to pay a $75 fine for the infraction.
“He was not under the understanding or impression that he required a permit for that purpose,” explained the deputy-mayor.
“I don’t think that (the registered letter) is customer service. I think it’s totally wrong. I think sending out a letter stating that he needed to contact the municipality and that they needed to have a discussion in respect to the issue is the way. Our customer service is terrible.”
Mayor Ian McLeod reminded the deputy-mayor that this wasn’t the first time that such concerns had been brought to the council table.
“We did say to you about a year ago when we had this similar conversation that any communications or like issues would be forwarded to the CAO (Bryan Brown) and then he would come back with his (staff) report to council,” said the mayor.
The deputy-mayor replied that he had followed that procedure “many times,” that he receives “the same answers,” and that from now on he will bring such matters directly to council.
Councillor Lyle Warden backed the deputy-mayor’s claim of customer service and communications shortcomings “100 per cent.”
However, one of their colleagues emphatically disagreed with the deputy-mayor’s claims.
“Are you telling me that the finance department doesn’t give good service? Are you talking about the roads department, or infrastructure... the staff in the arena?” asked Councillor Bill McKenzie.
“C’mon, c’mon. You’re including everybody in this township. You can’t generalize like that. You have implicated that this township doesn’t give good service to its residents and that’s not true,” Coun. McKenzie added, raising his voice. “And you know it.” Mayor McLeod concluded the brief but at times heated discussion by telling council that he would speak with Mr. Brown – who was absent from the meeting – and that a staff report dealing with the matter will be brought back to council at a subsequent regular meeting, likely the April 2 session.