Public service and customer service are two things that are very important to me. The only reason I would run for public office is if I thought that I could do a good job in serving the public. That is why I get up in the morning and what gives me my motivation. Customer service is one area that could be improved at the city, by empowering our city staff to be able to make decisions and have the resources available to provide better customer service. Here is a typical example of one of the issues a Councillor will face.
I received a call from Jane (real name changed) who is now a widow. Her husband had passed away and was buried in the city cemetery in the field of honor. The plots in the field of honor are designed with a granite head stone in the centre, flat to the ground with a concrete surround. In Jane’s case the work done was not great and there were gaps between the headstone and the concrete. This did not look good and really detracted from the respect her husband deserved. She had called the city and did not get any satisfaction or any commitment to do anything else.
I met with Jane and we went to her husband’s funeral plot and looked at her husband’s plot and all of the other grave sites for a comparison. At the conclusion of this meeting we went for coffee and discussed the issue. I explained that the city could not replace the entire headstone without difficulty as it could disturb her husband’s remains. She agree and I asked her if there was anything else she wanted. After a thorough discussion we eventually resolved that if a wreath were to be laid for her husband at Remembrance Day and if the gaps could be filled in with concrete she would be happy.
I passed this on to the city department and they stated that they would send someone out to fill in the gap in the concrete.
However they could not do anything about the wreath laying as this was a Legion initiative not a city one.
A week passed and I receive another call from Jane. The city had gone out and filed in the gaps in the concrete with what appeared to be white silicon and there was white debris on top of the gravestone. As a result of this she was quite upset. I went out to the gravesite and cleaned off all the white debris with some muriatic acid and polished her husbands military insignia with brasso and a toothbrush. After this was done I stopped by the Legion and bought her husband a wreath to lay for Remembrance Day. I dropped the receipt for the wreath, the brasso and the toothbrush off at her house and apologized for the inconvenience.
I should also point out that there was also an unrelated issue involving the provincial government. They required that the veteran’s plate be returned upon her husband’s death. I passed this issue on to our local MLA Marie Renaud and it is also be dealt with in due course.
The end result is that we now have a resident of St. Albert who is happy and is satisfied with the service she has received. To me this is how you build a community and how you make sure that St. Albert remains a great place to live.
In order to facilitate this within the corporate culture of the city of St. Albert I would like to empower employees and council members with a small customer service budget. That way they are empowered to go to the legion to buy a wreath to resolve the issue for a resident. I would also like to offer customer service training for all city staff and members of council in order to improve the public service we are trying to deliver.