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Frontline services the focus of rec. department restructuring

Savings from the elimination of two positions in Woolwich’s recreation department will be plowed back into more hires, with an emphasis on frontline service delivery.

The long-planned restructuring of the department was aided by the departure earlier this year of deputy director Brian Detzler, who took a position with neighbouring Centre Wellington Township. As well, the township recently let go long-time aquatic supervisor Dave Ruetz. The money from those two positions will be reallocated to pay for new jobs and reworking of some existing roles, said recreation director Karen Makela at Tuesday night’s meeting of Woolwich council.

The proposal was approved with no discussion by councillors, none of whom questioned whether the funds should be assigned elsewhere in the township or returned to taxpayers.

Under the plan, a new unionized position – facility/parks supervisor – will be added to the payroll, and a facilities/properties attendant, currently seasonal, will become a full-time position job. The goal is to enhance facility maintenance and operations, said Makela.

On the programming side, the business development manager’s job will be expanded to make it the facility supervisor at the Woolwich Memorial Centre and Woolwich Township Arena. A part-time aquatic/fitness supervisor will be hired to assist with offerings at the WMC and WTA.

As well, a recreation programmer/community development position will be added to assume responsibility for programs in the communities outside of Elmira. Based in Breslau, the employee will work with the facilities and volunteers in Bloomingdale, Conestogo, Floradale, Heidelberg, Maryhill, St. Jacobs and West Montrose.

In studying current service levels, Makela said the township has not been meeting demands and needs of the public, thus prompting the restructuring.

With the improvements, she noted, the department hopes to drive higher usage and, thus, more revenues to offset the drain on taxes.

Having just come through a major building phase on the recreation front, the township would like to see the facilities put to greater use, she added.

“Program drives facility. If we do not have solid programs, events, activities, rentals and participation across the municipality, we do not require the amenities developed,” said Makela in her report to council.

“The time has come to activate the ‘quality of life’ facilities that were realized through a highly successful Fit for the Future campaign.”

As a result of the eliminated positions, the department’s overall budget will not increase due to the additions, she stressed.

“The funds will be repurposed.”

Mayor Todd Cowan said a growing population is putting more pressure on township and recreation services to meet the public’s demand.

With this new plan, staff thinks it’s better able to serve the residents, chief administrative officer David Brenneman said following the meeting.

While there was no discussion of the plan or finances at the council session, councillors were kept in the loop about the shifts, including the decision to eliminate Ruetz’s position, he noted.

Management staff will be monitoring the changes to see if they actually do make a difference in the operation of recreation facilities and programs, he said.

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