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Merritt City Council has voted to approve the hiring of a new community planner.

“Currently, when development applications increase beyond manageable levels, staff work additional hours in evenings and weekends and/or contract files out to a consulting firm. The acquisition of a Community Planner would reduce consultant costs and improve the mental health of existing staff,” wrote Planning Manager Don McArthur.

The proposed role would be an exempt position, reporting to the Planning and Development Services Manager. While a final job description has not been completed, it is anticipated that this position would be responsible for processing development applications, reporting to Council, answering planning related inquiries from the public, overseeing the business licence application process, maintaining the GIS system, and working with the Development Services Clerk to update informational materials.

CAO Sean Smith also addressed the need.

“In my opinion, the City has a critical need to hire an additional planner in order to process the increasing number of applications, while maintaining excellent service. In 2020, the Development Services team has done phenomenal work to advance Council’s plans, but their pace, and in particular Don’s hours of work, cannot be maintained without great personal cost,” said Smith.

It was noted that some of the costs of the new hire would be offset by the reduction of consultants being used for planning projects. This year the City is estimated to spend $35,000 on planning consultants.

 

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