News : Windsor’s 311 Service May Get Boost
Windsor, ON, Canada, Jan 27, 2015 -- Calls to Windsor’s 311/211 service rose 12 per cent last year, thanks to a bunch of unusually intense issues from snow to flooding.
"We had a significant increase in call volume last year," said Alena Sleziak, after giving a presentation Monday to city council on the service. "We had a significant snowfall, and that was extended over a few months. We had flooding events. The city instituted the new hard-container bylaw (for garbage). And we had a municipal election. That all drives a lot of calls to the centre."
More than 160,000 calls were answered in 2014. The biggest information concern revolved around taxes, with more than 26,000 calls, while environmental issues were next with more than 20,000. The most calls for service were dirty yard complaints with more than 5,500, and tree maintenance with more than 4,800.
Mayor Drew Dilkens, meanwhile, wants to beef up the system. He wants the call centre to start tracking info on city department responses and to allow councillors to log in directly to the system themselves.
"With 311, I have asked administration to look into building a connection with the councillors directly," Dilkens said Monday, after a council orientation session on enforcement and more. "It would allow councillors to input information into the system — and to follow it. If councillors are given a chance to be part of the system, residents will probably get a better response."
Dilkens also wants numbers on the success rate. How was the complaint handled? In what time frame? Was the complainant satisfied?
"If we don’t start measuring the feedback in some way, we’ll never know whether people are happy with the service," Dilkens said. "We have to generate the statistics so we know what people think."
Dilkens acknowledges, however, there may be issues with privacy and cost. The call centre — which handles this area’s provincewide 211 calls as well as City of Windsor 311 calls — runs on a staff of 23 and an annual budget of about $1.5 million. If the hurdles can be overcome, Dilkens thinks the boosted system could be in place later this year.
Ward 9 Coun. Hilary Payne supports Dilkens’s initiative to build in followup to the 311/211 system, since he told the meeting that some constituents have complained about not receiving satisfactory results.
"When I was first elected I got a lot of complaints from residents who said calls and complaints were not being responded to," Payne said. "What I found was happening was that 311 was dealing with it very effectively and sending it to the departments. But in some cases, the departments weren’t doing it. And even if they did do it, they never came back and said they did it."
Payne said he followed up on behalf of constituents. But he nevertheless agrees the service process should be enhanced.
"The point I was making is it’s not negligence on the part of the departments," Payne said. "But because of the zero tax increases, they’re operating, really, with very restricted staff levels."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, January 29, 2015