Skip to content

Thorold City Hall severely understaffed, says organizational review

Auditors from Deloitte have identified 24 immediate hiring needs; 'Unfortunately, we’re a small municipality and you can’t just jump to the numbers'

What many Thorold residents already suspected has now been made official: City Hall is severely understaffed.

Back in June, council asked Deloitte to conduct an organizational review of City Hall to determine how to improve functionality.

On Tuesday evening, auditors Tony Hamer and Sarah Ban presented their findings at a special council meeting.

One thing was made abundantly clear: there are very few service standards and key performance indicators (KPIs) at City Hall.

“Without those kind of frameworks in place, it makes the assessment of staffing a little less quantitative and somewhat more qualitative,” explained Hamer. 

The city's exceptional growth rate of 27% also complicated the review.

“When an organization is hard to benchmark we end up with not an exact science,” said Hamer. “Aspects such as the growth rate and student population make benchmarking quite difficult.”

The one thing the auditors did conclude is that City Hall needs to go on a massive hiring spree.

“You’re quite understaffed in a number of places and you’ll need more staff as you grow,” Hamer said. “As you get bigger you need to think a little bit more carefully and clearer how you might go for time saving tools.”

Public Works and Community Services were particular departments singled out by the review.

“You’ve upped the number of parks and infrastructure that needs to be maintained but you haven’t really increased the headcount very much,” Hamer said.

The review has identified 24 immediate hiring needs, including a special events coordinator, another city planner, an HR coordinator, as well as in-house legal counsel.

But this news was not to every councillor’s liking.

“Unfortunately, we’re a small municipality and you can’t just jump to the numbers,” Councillor Henry D’Angela said. “Sometimes contracted positions meet our needs more than full-time employees because the demand isn’t there.”

Councillor Carmen DeRose does not understand why there are no service standards at City Hall.

“Can you create an accurate organizational review when there’s important parameters that are not in place,” he asked. “Whose responsibility is it on staff to create a baseline and metrics? I don’t understand how we didn’t have that in place years ago.”

The review has certainly given councillors quite the conundrum to solve come budget time.

“We are chronically understaffed from what I see from your study,” said Councillor Anthony Longo.“I think the struggle is going to be how you add 20 people in the short term but that’s not your problem.”

Hamer highlighted the urgency of the immediate hires by explaining that understaffing has led to City Hall employees constantly supporting each other. That in turn has led to less accountability, and a lack of efficiency when it comes to senior staff’s time.

“Your long term planning tends to get pushed into the background for the short-term operational needs to be delivered,” he said. 

This prompted Councillor D’Angela to bring up the city's strategic plan, because the current one is set to expire at the end of the year.

“We got to get going on it,” he told his fellow council members. “The year has ended. This council hasn’t put a stamp on where we want to go and what we want to do.”

But CAO Manoj Dilwaria is adamant that the new strategic plan is well underway, and will be brought forward to council in the first quarter of the new year.

"We are selecting the consultant," he said. "The report will be presented to council on the 12th of December. After that the consultant will be retained and we'll start the process later this year."

One thing is already certain: the organizational review will have an important impact on the City Budget deliberations early next year.

CLARIFICATION: The city does have a strategic plan in place. It is set to expire at the end of the year.

Reader Feedback

Bernard Lansbergen

About the Author: Bernard Lansbergen

Bernard was born and raised in Belgium but moved to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Niagara since 2020. Bernard loves telling people’s stories and wants to get to know those that make Thorold into the great place it is
Read more