Dawson City is inviting criticism.
The town is holding a public meeting next week to get feedback from the public about the kinds of services it offers.
“Hopefully it’s constructive criticism,” said Jeff Renaud, Dawson’s chief administrative officer.
“Our goal here is to ensure that the City of Dawson is providing the services that the citizens expect, at levels that they expect and also identify where improvements can be made,” he said.
It’s the first time that the town has ever done this kind of extensive public consultation.
“It’s well timed to have a meeting like this because we’re going into the budget cycle and plotting out a direction for the upcoming year,” said Mayor Wayne Potoroka.
In addition to getting a chance to sound off at the public meeting next Tuesday, Dawsonites will be able to make their voices heard through online and paper surveys, or by submitting comments directly to Across the River Consulting, which the town has hired to help out with this project.
Not that Dawsonites have ever been shy about sharing their views over the state of their municipal government, said Potoroka.
“My experience has been that people are always forthcoming with sharing their concerns and thoughts, but this is a more formal opportunity to do that,” he said. “Senior staff will be there, council members will be there, so this is a time for us again to check in and listen to people.”
Potoroka said he expects to receive comments on things like extended hours for the public pool, garbage collection, recycling and more.
“I believe people might even talk to us about cable television and whether or not the municipality should be in that business at all,” he said.
A few years ago, the town hooked up residents with fibre-optic cable because many of them were simply too close to the hill to be able to get a satellite signal.
This time it was done legally.
Former Mayor Peter Jenkins got himself in hot water years ago when he got caught distributing free television through an illegal American satellite signal.
But the focus isn’t just on the services the town provides, said Renaud.
“We’re even looking at administrative procedures and hoping that people who may have gotten caught in the red tape can help us identify some of the knots in those things so that we can get them out of the system,” he said. “We want to be as effective and as efficient as possible.”
Some issues, housing for instance, are out of the purview of the municipal government, but that doesn’t mean comments on those kinds of things will be ignored, said Renaud.
“Even if it’s not within out jurisdiction, if it’s important to our citizens I think this council and this administration are keen on pushing that forward to our colleges at other levels of government,” he said.
The results of the public meeting and the survey will be compiled in a report that will then be presented to council for consideration.
“We’re not making any grand promises that we’re going to meet every expectation or implement every idea, but again, it’s really healthy for council and our staff to connect with the people who use our services and pay for them,” said Potoroka.
It’s a process that will be repeated annually. But Renaud said that in subsequent years the survey won’t be as extensive, as this year is setting the baseline.
“It may be a slightly smaller scale of that constant checking in in the future, but that kind of thing will be determined as we go through this process.”
It’s a project that the entire council is very excited about, said Potoroka.
“It’s really easy once elections are over to forget about everything that was said, especially about openness and listening to people. But this is why we’re doing it, we take that responsibility seriously to listen to folks and to give them ample opportunity to converse with council,” he said.
The public meeting will be held next Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the City of Dawson council chambers.
Contact Josh Kerr at firstname.lastname@example.org