REPORT: Too many staff? Staffing levels in several communities

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
August 24th, 2020

At the last meeting of Rossland City Council, during the Public input session, a resident (mistakenly, but understandably – see below) stated that Fruitvale has only 100 fewer people than Rossland, and has only 4 employees, while Rossland has 18 at City Hall.  Now, the resident had some numbers wrong – Fruitvale’s population as of the most recent census – in 2016 — was only  1,920; but it has grown slightly since then, and is likely over 2,000 now. According to the office staff, Fruitvale does indeed have four full-time office staff and one part-time, plus seven Public Works staff.  Rossland’s City Hall online staff directory lists only 16 positions, not 18, but it may need updating.

The resident can be excused for being mistaken about Fruitvale’s population, because Googling  “Fruitvale BC population” gets an immediate (and wrong) response of “3,627” from Wikipedia, which fails to explain the actual area included in that figure. As Wikipedia itself notes, “Wikipedia can be edited by anyone at any time. This means that any information it contains at any particular time could be vandalism, a work in progress, or just plain wrong.”

The resident’s comment raised the legitimate question:  does Rossland have too many staff for its size, especially compared with other communities of comparable population?

This report looks at a few other communities that are close in size to Rossland, and one in addition to Fruitvale that isn’t.  Unless otherwise stated, the population figures quoted are from the 2016 census.  Only City Hall staff are included in the figures, as far as we know – not the mechanics, equipment operators, gardeners and so on, except where they are specifically mentioned.

 Rossland had a population of 3,729, and lists 16 positions in its staff directory; we have a seven-member City Council.

Golden:  Population – 3,708. The website for the town of Golden, BC, says “We employ approximately 30 full time residents to ensure our corporation is able to provide the services that we offer, fulfill our legal obligations to the public, and maintain our community’s livability.” However, Golden’s annual report released this year lists 31 full-time employees, and several part-time.  

Of those 31 full-time positions, there are 18 positions at the Town Hall.  The others are systems operators, labourers, seasonal gardeners, a custodian, facility operators, a certified tradesman, and recreation operators.

Like Rossland, Golden also has a seven-member Town Council – a mayor and six councillors.  

Fort Nelson had a population of 3,336, and is the seat of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, which covers an area of 85,015 square kilometres and had a population of 5,393.  The municipality has a seven-member council, and the staff directory lists 32 people employed in six departments at City Hall:  Corporate Services (6), Technological Services (1), Finance (5),  Development and Planning (9), Public Works (4), and Recreation (7).  In addition to those 32  positions, the municipality also has the Fire Rescue department with three additional positions at City Hall, and two other positions for the airport.

Port Hardy had a population of 4,115 in 2016; it has seven council members, and lists 23 positions in its staff directory.

Grand Forks, with a population 4,049, and a seven-member council, has approximately 20 City Hall staff comparable to positions in Rossland; there are several additional positions that Rossland doesn’t have, such as “Recovery Manager” and the Emergency Services staff, and the electrical utility staff.

Now, for the other smaller-sized community:

Nakusp is a village with a population of 1,605 – less than half the population of Rossland – and it has a 5-member council, and its directory lists 10 staff at the village office.

There may be other communities of equally comparable population as the ones reported here – if any other community can be said to be comparable to Rossland – but time is limited.  We would welcome hearing from anyone who can find a community of comparable size that seems to stand out in providing as many services and amenities as Rossland, with notably lower staffing levels.

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