A complete management oversight breakdown has prompted city councillors to ask that a new ‘cooling off period’ be established as city policy. This is after a scathing audit on Edmonton’s revolutionary sand recycling program revealed former city employees had a good working relationship with city middle managers when the recycling program was set up in 2005.
Word of the relationship that was detailed in Thursday’s meeting of audit committee, was troubling to Mayor Don Iveson, who added that the individuals no long work for the city.
“The folks who were connected to this project and the managers who were supposed to over see this, and were supposed to be reporting to council, applying the rigor that we expect, that those individuals either left to work for this contractor which is troubling, or retired, or resigned along the way.”
Council has asked that administration investigate how a cooling off period can work. “Council has asked us to, and I think after this we’re anxious ourselves to define that more specifically in a policy and basically state if you work for the city, there needs to be a certain amount of time before you can work as a contractor for the city,” said city manager Linda Cochrane.
“We have to pursue this cooling off period no question, to be confident that all of our staff understand that it’s not right to work for the city, and then work for a company that works for the city in a very short period of time,” she told reporters.
“We hold this organization and public dollars to sufficiently high standard that even the appearance of that, of any impropriety should be avoided,” said Iveson. “So I support looking into it, and if that’s the right mechanism I support adopting it.”
“I would want to test whether that or another mechanism is what we need in place to avoid something like this where at this point there’s inconclusive evidence as to whether there was wrong doing. At this point there’s the appearance of things which is troubling.”
Meanwhile as for the program itself, this coming winter you’ll see new sand thrown on the streets. The old sand is being stockpiled, and hasn’t been cleaned or recycled, said deputy city manager for operations Doug Jones. The city has bought 130,000 tonnes of new sand at a cost of roughly $2.5 million, which Jones said is approximately the same cost as recycling last winter’s sand.
Iveson said it hasn’t been determined if the sand recycling program will be continued. It’s still being studied he said.
You can read the audit here