Men, Machines and the City of Nanaimo – A Letter to Council

Ron Bolin: Oct.28, 2012
Mayor Ruttan and Councillors:
          I note from Monday’s agenda that you will be asked to approve the issuance of an RFP for parking equipment and related items. While the rationale for this request is easily understood, there are related matters raised by it which deserve consideration and on which I would appreciate your consideration.
          There is a relation between technology and manpower which, it seems to me, has been overlooked in the report before you . Technology in the area of parking control has come a long way since the era of simple machine per space meters which report only directly on a machine by machine basis and require significant “boots on the ground”. For this reason I find it difficult to understand how we could make a decision about staffing before we have determined the technology to be employed. Adding staff is a long term commitment in both present and future costs, particularly, it seems to me, in a case such as this where there are to be two management staff to only three operations staff in a unit of five.
          Systems are available which automate the parking control process to a very high degree. Such a system may or may not be economically feasible for Nanaimo, but consideration of their economics will certainly involve the costs of staffing them. These trade-offs will not be known until the Parking equipment RFP has been issued and answered. I ask that you consider this trade-off carefully before you commit fully to a manpower plan which may prove disadvantageous to Nanaimo and its taxpayers.