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Friday, May 27, 2011

Week Two

Week two started off on a liberating note. It was liberating because on Tuesday my phone and computer was setup at my workstation and it made my work a lot simpler and efficient. I was able to type up my work plan that I had discussed with Charlotte my first week. After, we discussed how to improve my work plan and most importantly how my work schedule could highlight a detailed roadmap, including specifics of the design and development process, for the surveillance policy. I also got some cues from Charlotte as how to use a Gantt chart (Note, I have never used a Gantt chart before). I did email Meaghan and Karsten at the Lab and Beyond office to inform them about my unfamiliarity with using a Gantt chart. Workplan

With my computer handy, I got to surf the FOIP site to examine some incidents reports by the Commissioner. It was intriguing and insightful, to say the least, as to the findings reported by the Commissioner. Some reports expressed deep concerns about the use of personal information by law enforcement, public bodies and even employers; yet at the same time, the adjudicator in some of the cases supported how these bodies used personal information. Or one can describe the use as “misuse” because, in some cases, the adjudicator couldn’t simply give a definitive response. It is for this reason; I found some of these incident reports intriguing.

I examined the annual FOIP report by Alberta’s Service Minister. The report highlighted some significant achievements by the FOIP and how FOIP is been continually upgraded to ensure that access and privacy matters are taken seriously in the province. An interesting fact about FOIP in 2010 is that the majority of access requests were by individuals and business. Individuals wanted information on themselves. As well, municipalities and local public bodies saw a jump of 10% in the number of access request from 2009 to 2010. This indicates an increasing trend by the general public, individuals in this case, in requesting information. This increase should be of significance to municipalities. The importance should be reflected in municipalities having a healthy FOIP department to handle these inquiries and not taking access request lightly.

Another interesting fact about the FOIP Incident reports is there was high number of big institutions who were found violating the FOIP Act. I found that quiet alarming because these were institutions we tend to uphold as being adherent to the law, but apparently it was the contrary.

I examined surveillance policies by various school boards, health institutions, and various local government bodies. There were FAQs about municipal bodies which included, but not limited to these questions, “which municipalities are subject to the FOIP act”, “which records of the municipalities are subject to the FOIP”, “what the definition for a record is”, and so on. These FAQs did provide some clarity as to how municipalities operate in accordance with the FOIP and their obligations in fulfilling aspects of the FOIP Act. A municipality could be investigated by the privacy commissioner if it failed to manage its records properly and did not have a bylaw to administer the destruction of a record.

CBC also had some interesting articles on the City of Calgary when the city decided to install surveillance in its downtown. Not only was it an expensive project for the city, but it also showed how balancing privacy and public safety could sometimes be tenuous. It is for such reasons why it is important to have a FOIP act that helps municipalities draw a line between what is lawful and a violation.

I got to attend two meetings this week. They included a council meeting and the Solid Waste Education Planning meeting. At the council meeting I witnessed how the council deliberated on issues and how they voted. As well, the body language of councilors was worth noticing, as it gave some cues if they were going to respond or not. At the council meeting I got to know how the municipality works with the county of Camrose to provide some services to the county residents. This is an area I would like to know more about. Hopefully, I would find some interesting council meetings to attend in the coming weeks. My hope is to gain as much familiarity and understanding about city council deliberations. The Solid Waste meeting discussed how to plan the kitchen and yard waste disposal event in June. What I got out of this meeting was how to coordinate municipal events such as these, and also staff addressing the concerns that volunteers for the program might have.

FOIP Annual Report for 2009-2010
Frequently asked questions about municipalities
Calgary tests surveillance cameras in downtown.
City turns on downtown surveillance cameras.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Week One

My first day on the job at Camrose City Hall was quite intense as far as reading was concerned; the intensity was good, I should add. I was met by Brian, city manager, who introduced me to all the staff, and later, I met up with my supervisor, Charlotte. We went to the Mirror Lake center where I was introduced to the other staff members at this location. After that, she allocated my workstation, and provided me with some articles on Camrose city governance structure, articles on what ‘municipality’ in Alberta means, and some surveillance policies adopted by other municipalities to read. The read provided me with some introductory insight into what surveillance policy is all about as well as how policies are in place in other municipalities in Alberta. Moreover, I got a brief from my supervisor as to what municipalities was all about. Municipalities are confounding creatures as you get to know them. Brian took us, my supervisor and I, out for lunch - I am grateful.

What I learnt my first week

I met up with Charlotte later in the week to discuss my work plan. I got to learn how to prioritize the people I planned to consult in drafting the surveillance policy. In our discussion I became aware that there is the possibility that my work plan might change, as work plans are neither iterative nor linear process. We also discussed how I could be involved in other projects that might be of interest to me. Projects that came under consideration included the Camrose decision making protocols, economic development, emergency management, and perhaps municipal community planning.

Some articles that I examined included the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and the 2011 operational budget for the various city departments. Through my read, I got to understand what MDP is about, and why it is necessary for guiding a municipality’s growth and development. A project in the Camrose MDP that stood out to me was the Airport Vicinity Protection Area to restrict unwanted development. I hope to learn more about this project.

The vacancy at the economic development position led to an ongoing recruitment process by the city for the vacancy to be filled up by fall. I am encouraged by the effort being put in by the economic development recruitment committee to recruit the best candidate or the job. My encouragement stems from the survey conducted by the team to engage and consider the views of key stakeholders. The survey is a positive step by the city to approach the recruitment process with such effort, as well as it reflects the city’s commitment towards community sustainability that is undergirded by building the right capacity and encouraging community participation in the decision making process. However, the survey also raised some concerns about the challenges the city faces. One challenge that the city is perceived to face is the branding of the city’s image and its identity as a “retirement community” or “university town”. Some notable comments included the following: the need to change the perception that the city is a retirement community; as well, how outsiders perceived Camrose. The survey may possibly reflect some genuine concerns about the perception of city; nonetheless, it is encouraging that city officials are engaging the community to learn about these concerns and factor it into the recruitment process.

I got to learn that the governance structure of Camrose is divided into 5 departments: corporate services, engineering, financial, economic development, and community or leisure services. These 5 departments reports to the city manager. The police service is run by a police chief who reports to a police commission.

As a result of the literature I read on surveillance during the week, I was able to gain some insight into the surveillance polices of other municipalities in Alberta. Moreover, I gained some insight into what these policies are about as it pertains to surveillance protocols, and how these protocols are developed in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act 2000, as amended 2009. It will provide a helpful roadmap for the policy I may draft later. I also found out some Camrose municipal bylaws that might relate to Camrose surveillance policy. They included the “Access to information bylaw” and “The Records Retention and Disposition Bylaw”.

A key to working in municipal governance is to understand the process. A theme reinforced by my supervisor. I would keep that in mind.

Some key guides to policy process is to understand the issue at stake, examine the issue, coming up with different alternatives, talking to relevant stakeholders and getting feedback.

The restructuring of municipalities is fascinating to say the least. One aspect of restructuring I found fascinating was my discussion with Charlotte on the dissolution of municipalities, and how the minister of Municipal Affairs impacts this process. It was fascinating because of the process involved. Communities that wanted to dissolve had to go through a plebiscite, petition for dissolution, inspection audit, and town hall meetings. I think it is a real time consuming process with no guarantees that it will be approved by the minister.

The municipal corporate reviews of the towns of Boyle and Vilna not only reflected a case of administrative ineptitude, but it also unfolded like a Hollywood soap opera. The Boyle case was intriguing at best. Furthermore, these two cases also reflect how small communities are most likely to be the victim of administrative ineptness because of the blurred lines that develop between council and administration responsibilities.

After examining the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI), I do understand the difference between this initiative and the Municipal Sustainability Plan (MSP). The MSI is funded by the provincial government and puts a focus on municipal viability. It is fair to argue that municipalities will favour the MSI more because of the possibility of more funding in contrast to the MSP.

Alberta Municipal Affairs. Village of Vilna : Final Inspection Report. 2010
Camrose Community Stakeholders Interview Results Summary Report
CityofAirdrie Video Surveillance Policy
City of Camrose. Municipal Development Plan
City of Camrose. 2011 Operating Budget
City of Camrose. Access to Information Bylaw. Bylaw # 2189/99
City of Camrose. Acceptable Computer and Internet Use Policy
City of Fort Saskatchewan Video Surveillance Policy
City of Grand Prairie City Hall Video Surveillance
City of Camrose. Fee Reduction Program Policy Manual
FOIP Guidelines and Practice. Administration of the FOIP. 2009
Municipal Sustainability Strategy Working Group: A proposal for municipal sustainability for Alberta. 2010
Municipal Internship Program Guidebook. Municipal Government in Alberta. 2009/10
Office of the Auditor General, Manitoba. Guide to Policy Development
Privacy Impact Assessment, Instructions, and Annotated Questionnaire
Province of Alberta. Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. RSA 2000.
Province of Alberta. Municipal Governmeent Act. RSA 2000

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Day two Orientation

Researched the community profile of Camrose as well as the Municipal Sustainablity Plan being conducted by the City of Camrose and Augustana Faculty. found some interesting facts about Camrose.

City of Camrose Profile
Population as of 2006 was almost 16000. Median income for couple households with children was almost $90,000 in 2005 in contrast to $55,000 for couple households without children in the same year. English is the main language of instruction. Mostly Canadian citizens live in Camrose. A small number of immigrant population. As of 2006, Camrose had a total of 280 non-canadian citizens. Camrose has an Aboriginal population of 530. Educational attainment for those 15years and over is 2 to 1 when you compare those with high school certificate and no certificate to those with a level of post secondary education. Comparably more females are educated than their male counterparts. As of 2006, almost half of its population was employed. The main mode of transportation is personal cars and trucks as there is no public transit in Camrose.

Statistics Canada. 2007. Camrose, Alberta (Code4810011) (table). 2006 Community Profiles. 2006 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 92-591-XWE. Ottawa. Released March 13, 2007.
(accessed May 10, 2011).

Sustainability Initiative in Camrose
Camrose is currently engaged in a municipal sustainability plan (MSP) which outlines its short and longterm sustainability goals. It covers the following five pillars of sustainability: economy, governance, ecology, culture and society. This plan will enable the city to access funds generated from federal gas taxes. The MSP in Camrose is a partnership with the Augustana faculty to help shape the future of the city. A key benefit of this partnership is to get meaningful feedback from the Augustana faculty as well as the residents of Camrose to help shape its long-term sustainability vision in 2055. As of 2009, students at Augustana were engaged in various researches such as the Camrose citizen’s Ecological Footprints as well as sixteen areas of the five pillars of sustainability. These students adopted various methods to gather data and information pertinent to these researches. Some methods included outreach such as door-to-door canvassing, approaching shoppers on the street, and attending community group meetings in order to reach a wide range of

University of Augustana. Camrose Municapal Sustainablity Plan.

Scavenger Hunt

I am looking forward to the scavenger hunt for more information on Camrose as well as the sustainability initiatives here.

Some interesting comments suggested by the students at OLMP that could encourage them to stay in Camrose as well as have fun here was to have some free social events such as organizing drive through movie spots, dance sessions or even live bands and extra curricular activities. They pointed out the lack of such free activities that could engage them and reduce the boredom, as there is nothing to do after 6pm here. It is extra bad in the winter because they dont even experience activities that they normally enjoy spring and summer. The youth between the ages 14 to 17 years were those likely to be get easily bored. Most of the students said after school they would leave Camrose.

There are some interesting cultural activities at the Baileys theatre that can be explored by Camrose residents. Some new events being introduced include experiencing the culinary services which could have a seating capacity of 40, some new programming to enhance the theatrical effects, as well as renting out the centre for other purposes.
Discussions with the city staff involved tapping the skills of augustana students when they graduate to help keep some students here. Such a move can enhance the talent and human capacity for the city in the longrun. As well, Service Canada youth centre is also doing its part in helping the youth not only find jobs but also educating them about workplace health & safety issues. The youth centre's approach is certainly a step in the right direction in raising awareness about workplace injuries.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Day one orientation

I attended my oreintation for the capacity internship today. The discussions regarding how best to exchange and translate knowledge with community partners was insightful. It was insightful in the sense that our discussions explored and touched on certain tensions and challenges-- the possibility to make mistakes as well as manage diverse views and people we may inteact and work with-- that could possibly arise in the course of our internship. What i got out of this discussion was not to reinvent the wheel but rather explore ways, in consultation with community partners, that maybe helpful to the community or organization in question, as there no custom made solutions to rural capacity building.


Setting up a blog for the internship...