The idea for this series came about as the result of a simple question by one of Skid Crease’s Bolton neighbours.
“I mean, what do these people on the Town staff really do?” he had inquired. So Skid decided to ask them. Here is the fourth in this series of interviews with the people who really run the Town of Caledon.
Understanding Town of Caledon Management
Carey deGorter, Town Clerk and General Manager Corporate Services
Well, I had all of my standard questions prepared, but Carey deGorter and I just began to talk, and it became one of the most energetic and enjoyable personal interviews I have ever done.
Carey brings a definite enthusiasm to her role. Although, as Town Clerk she is responsible for the administration of Council meetings, there are many other aspects of her portfolio as General Manager of Corporate Services.
To put her role into perspective, imagine this…
You are a citizen coming to attend a Town Council meeting for the first time. If you were Information Technology literate, you could have looked up the entire Council schedule and checked out the Agenda and reports for the meeting online. If you just arrived at the door that night, you would find that same Agenda and reports neatly printed and organized for you on the table outside the Council chamber doors. All this is done by staff in the Legislative Services department.
If you needed to present to Council, the information and guidelines for that would come through Carey’s team. If you later went online to check on exactly what was said and done at Council, that is recorded and made available for the public. This is just the “hostess” part of Carey’s job.
She also keeps the Councillors and Mayor attuned to procedural guidelines during Council meetings and that requires a detailed knowledge of parliamentary procedures. The Clerk’s Office is also responsible for maintaining records of municipal by-laws (and cleaning out the ones that have atrophied), and municipal elections (watch for changes in 2018).
As General Manager of Corporate Services, Carey and her team are responsible for handling appointments to Town boards and committees, Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy, customer service, accessibility matters, special occasion permits, and permanent liquor licenses.
If you break it down, Corporate Services actually consists of Legislative Services, Information Services, Information Technology, Legal Services, and Regulatory Services (which includes Animal Services, Municipal Law Enforcement, and Parking Enforcement). It also includes the Provincial Offences Court, which processes charges under Provincial statutes and collects fines for offences committed in the Town.
Carey has to keep all these irons in the fire and glowing brightly. She sees all of this as integral to her role in the governance of the Town: helping Council to run smoothly and efficiently, keeping the public informed, and constantly finding ways to improve Town services.
“A primary goal of my department,” she said, “is to provide Council with the tools in order to make good decisions. Our other key goal is to serve the public of Caledon efficiently.” To that end, Carey is very proud of the Town’s new Service Caledon initiative.
Service Caledon’s role will be to provide information to the public about our most frequently asked questions: “How do I sign up for tax payments?” or “Do I need a building permit for this shed?” or “Where can I get a copy of the fire permit by-law?” There will be an emphasis on delivering this information through three channels either from a real person, by phone, or by email.
Besides re-vamping the space for Service Caledon at the front counter, Carey’s team will also be focused on “clearing out the garage”, cleaning up policies and irrelevant by-laws to update and streamline public services. While retaining our urban Town friendliness, Carey hopes to bring a greater degree of sophistication to the way we deliver our services, with a smile and style.
She is very grateful to be working with a superb leadership team that has attracted bright, enthusiastic people to the Town, while still honouring the old wisdoms. This will be particularly important as the Town prepares for the 2018 Municipal Elections that will follow only four months after the Provincials. For these elections, the Town will continue with an electronic registration system (get on the list, and don’t lose your card!)
I also discovered that Town staff will be handling the entire election process and that there will only be a three-month nomination period from May to July, so stay tuned. And, on top of this, since the Province is coming down with new guidelines about the municipal election, Carey’s team will be educating both voters and candidates as the changes become available.
This interview gave me an eye-opening lesson in Municipal Governance 101. Carey deGorter’s genuine appreciation for her role as part of the Town of Caledon’s administration team made it one of the best classes I have ever attended. I’ll have a whole new respect for that bundle of papers I pick up before the next Council meeting.
Editor’s note: Since the writing of this article there has been restructuring at Town of Caledon. The Human Resources Manager Judy Porter is now Interim General Manager of the newly combined Strategic Initiatives, Human Resources, and Customer Service Divisions.