Revelstoke city hall looks to SeeClickFix to improve engagement

Council approves purchase of app it hopes will streamline communication between city, public; other notes from Dec. 23 meeting of council.

SeeClickFix bills itself as a tool that allows citizens to connect with local government.

SeeClickFix bills itself as a tool that allows citizens to connect with local government.

Council voted to spend $6,000 this year on a new web-based program that it hopes will improve customer service and communication with the public.

SeeClickFix is an app that people can download onto their phones in order to communicate with city hall. It allows them to send in notifications of problems like burnt out streetlights, potholes and streets that aren’t plowed. It also allows the city to send out questions to the public.

“SeeClickFix is a web based tool the city has been looking at in regards to how we can engage the community more as well as how we can improve service to the residents here,” Dean Strachan, the manager of development services, said during a presentation to council.

Users have the ability to see what was already recorded and the data collected can be fed into the city’s GIS system so it can identify systemic issues, said Strachan.

“If we have a light issue in a particular neighbourhood, maybe there’s a broader issue that needs to be looked at?” he said.

The application is supposed to streamline the city’s process for responding to non-emergency issues. Currently that is done either by phone, e-mail or by in-person visits. A staff report says city hall deals with hundreds of the these kinds of calls each year.

One question council had: Will this save the city money? On that, staff couldn’t provide a definite answer. Tim Palmer, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, said there could be reduced costs from “synergies” and there could be efficiencies when sending out crews to look after problems.

At the same time, he added: “I think we’re going to have much higher expectations from citizens for a more timely response.”

Council voted to approve the spending. “I think it’s a good concept and if council supports it, it will make an interesting report a year from now on what it does and does not do,” said Mayor Mark McKee.

Vacation rentals get third reading

The first two vacation rental applications to go in front of council moved one step forward to approval.

Council gave third reading for the applications to turn homes at 1585 Birch Drive and 1000 First Street West into vacation rentals. The applications now only need final approval in order to become final.

The Birch Drive application went through with little said. A staff report responded to concerns  raised at a public hearing. about enforcement.

“If they aren’t a success, we will follow up in a timely fashion to see neighbourhoods are not disturbed in the process,” said councillor Linda Nixon.

The First Street application was more contentious, with councillor Aaron Orlando voting against it.

“I think council heard from the neighbours pretty clearly about their issues,” he said. “I don’t know that this location is a good place for a vacation rental. It’s a really complex issue in my opinion, but when I heard six or seven neighbours express specific concerns about this one, I think it speaks to the suitability of this neighbourhood.”

The rest of council supported it, echoing Nixon’s previous thoughts that the neighbours must be assured the bylaw would be enforced.

“If a vacation rental is otherwise appropriate, I think we should trust the monitoring and make sure they do a  good job,” said coun. Connie Brothers.

Council to attend ‘Alderman School’

Council opted to attend the Local Government Leadership Academy in Kelowna this month, voting unanimously in favour of a motion to send all new councillors, with experienced councillors given the option to attend if they so choose.

Council was given other options, including bringing in a consultant or being trained in-house by city staff.

“I think it’s a better product to go there and over four years, I think we’re going to learn something that saves us that few thousand dollars extra,” said coun. Orlando.

Other councillors agreed. “They’re good, they’re well done and I think it’s money well spent,” said Mayor Mark McKee.