PRINCE GEORGE On the way to work on Monday, residents may notice some new street signs that reveal service inadequacies plaguing B.C.s largest northern metropolis. The signs are part of a new campaign from CUPE 399 outside workers.
The signs will ask: Streetlights out? Roads need repairs? Sidewalks need repairs? Those questions represent a few of the frustrations citizens complain about to city workers every day.
Outside workers are as frustrated and fed up as the people who stop us to ask why a streetlight has been out for months or why our sidewalks are not being repaired, said CUPE Local 399 president Kevin McConnachie. They want to know why they have to put up with the crumbling state of our roads.
For city workers, the answer is simple. The mayor and council decided that the look and feel of our city infrastructure doesnt merit top priority when it comes to setting the budget, McConnachie said. In recent years the number of city employees needed to do the work in a timely fashion has severely dwindled.
The public has been disgusted with the state of affairs on boulevards and parks this summer, say city workers. The low level of staffing has only allowed for occasional grass cutting. Citizens were furious with the massive dandelion infestation. Now, as more jobs come to an end, streetlight, road and sidewalk repairs will become an issue.
Yet citizen concerns are met with silence from the mayor and council. Thats where CUPEs campaign kicks in. In addition to the signs, a media campaign will call on people to express their concerns.
A lobbying campaign will inform the mayor and council of the problems city staff face in trying to keep up with the backlog of work. Public information will be distributed to ensure that citizens know where the problems are at any given time.
City managers have been trying to convince everyone that its cheaper to contract out work done by city workers, McConnachie said. But nothing has been saved by privatizing the work we use to do, be it beautification upkeep, road or sewer work.
CUPE will be publishing information during the campaign to prove just how much more money the city is spending and how many fewer benefits citizens receive.
Kevin McConnachie, CUPE Local 399 President, (250) 961-1196.