The city has been in the news lately, and I understand when Yellowknifers tell me they’re concerned, given allegations of past workplace misconduct that has recently come to light.

Yellowknife senior administrative officer assures citizens in a guest column to Yellowknifer that the city is taking steps to address workplace issues raised in recent stories about the city’s bylaw department and its manager Doug Gillard.

I want to bring some peace of mind and reassure residents that city employees continue to work every day to make Yellowknife a great place to live, work and visit.

Every day, city staff ensure that our roads and sidewalks are clear of snow, and that our parks are maintained and kept looking great. They are the first responders on scene at a fire or emergency accident, they teach our kids to swim, and they ensure that Yellowknifers have some of the best drinking water in the world. They welcome visitors to Yellowknife, keep our well-loved ice surfaces in great shape, deliver great library programs, and strive to make municipal government accessible.

As city administrator, I’m the bridge between city council and staff. Council has one employee – me – and they entrust me and hold me accountable to deliver on their priorities, in addition to managing operations effectively and providing leadership. It’s my responsibility to inspire and lead all city staff to continuously improve our local government, so that we can deliver the best programs and services to residents and visitors.

Positive behaviour starts at the top. So while there may very well have been issues in the past, I am working hard to change that to ensure a safe, productive and respectful work environment that is free from mistreatment and harassment.

There has been change since I started with the city in March 2017. Council wanted change and I’m committed to doing just that. We are implementing the new Whistleblower Policy which council approved last fall.

I’ve initiated monthly all-staff meetings to ensure that all employees hear the latest from me, and staff now also have a direct pipeline to me to raise issues and make recommendations – anonymously if they so choose.

Regular meetings with our union leadership have also been implemented, and a review of our policies is underway so that residents will know our position on key issues, like the Security Camera Policy that’s coming shortly. And, for the first time in the city’s history, there is gender-balance in the senior management team.

As a long-time Yellowknifer, I took on this role 10 months ago because I want to help build a thriving community. I want to change the way people view municipal governance.

The relationship between council and administration has to be strong so that together, we can serve residents productively. The city has to be open and transparent so that Yellowknifers know exactly what we are working towards. And we have to uphold an environment based on trust, respect, and understanding – because ultimately, we need these foundational elements to ensure our diverse and inclusive city really shines.

At the end of the day, Yellowknifers deserve a local government that is productive, safe, progressive and accountable, and that serves the public professionally and respectfully.

This is what I’m here to do, and I can assure you more positive changes are coming. In the meantime, you can continue to expect – and receive – great services from the hardworking staff at the City of Yellowknife, who like myself, have the distinct pleasure of striving to make our extraordinary community the best it can be.

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