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City hiring freeze likely on to end of year: Ballem memo

May 25th, 2009 · 14 Comments

It’s been a gloomy time around city hall lately, with the hiring freeze having stalled many initiatives in their tracks and hit some departments, which had always operated with a lot of temp-contract people particularly hard. Then there’s been a lot of turmoil, with people leaving or hinting that they’re open to leaving.

To provide some info amid the rumours, city manager Penny Ballem recently sent out a memo confirming the hiring freeze is in place for the rest of the year, in all likelihood, and letting staff know that there could be opportunities for unpaid leave coming up, if they want to take it.

You can read it here: ballem-hr-memo-may-2009

Categories: Uncategorized

  • I rent: not in Vancouver. Vancouver number crunching would be more revealing of owner/rental interests.

    Last year we were given option: leave or accept assisted ownership. The owners were about to convert.

    The ownership offer came with a sweetener: down payment gratis.

    The rental offer: rents will be raise but will try to keep you in your home: but only if it is not sold then we will try to locate you in another suite.

    I am sure everyone had the best of intentions.

    If my suite were converted, my rent would transmog., even without down payment, to mortgage/tax/strata well over double my, as is, rent.

    Mercifully the market nixed conversion.

    The point: two-bedroom sharing is no solution.

    At current building costs, I’m in the biz, rents and mortgages are unsustainable for any occupancy configuration.

    Renter sharing, as the lady describes, is tricky. Even family sharing is tricky.

    Eventually the system will flush the market out. Until then green shoots are a long way off . . .

  • Not running fot mayor

    The hiring freeze has hurt the planning dept especially hard already and it’s only going to get worse. They just lost another senior planner, this one has been offered a job in Hawai. Another one is set to go on maternity leave in a matter of days and the hiring freeze prevents either of them from being replaced. At this while they were already short-staffed, plus the city has the NEFC study on the go as well as the HAHR and the view corridor/capacity study. It’s almost like they are trying to flush the last remaining planners out the door. Brent should be screaming up and down for an exception to the freeze yet he’s surprisely quiet…

  • Ummm this was menart for th empty condo blog

  • I am really sorry to hear the news: hiring freeze at “Thu Hall:” unpaid leave encouraged. This has the makings of a tragedy. Families will be disrupted. No doubt, recent appointees feel vulnerable. Not the best of work environments. This probably is just the beginning!

    There will be schadenfreude is some quarters.

    My professional experience with the “Thu Hall” spans, 1957 to 1982: my activism, then, until I left Vancouver in 1996.

    Confessional: I struggle, too, with schadenfreude!

    Sin embargo, still, unfortunately, in my opinion, we tax payers, business and residential, have not received our money’s worth from the minion Hall-istas.

    In my field of work arrogance and non-performance, perceived conflict of interest has been the order of the day: public participation transmogrified into “do as you are told!”

    The early 1990’s CityPlan confabs were controlled: colloquially named “facilitators” acted, in fact, like Gauleiters. Missed opportunities abound.

    To wit: the now King Edward Village was built on an abandoned Safeway and parking lot: large assembled parcel, a realtor’s dream. Knight and Kingsway.

    It now stands as another anonymous chunk of concrete sitting on a branch library opening onto probably one of the busiest, dangerous, corners on Kingsway. It had the potential to be an intimate village centre, inwardly oriented away from noise and chaos; but no! Planners are too busy being important to plan.

    If Norquay revives it is in for more of the same; despite opposition for the neighbourhood.

    NEFC looks like more of the same FCN. FCN is arguably the most brutal intrusion any potentially wonderful city site ever suffered: NEFC is headed the same way: ignorant, insensitive city planners learn nothing.

    I dearly hope Hall-istas learn from this, retire long serving forlorn hopes, bring in new blood and give the taxpayer their money’s worth. I have personal knowledge of one talented Hall-ista!

    ¡Espero que las cosas se resuelvan! Dios bendice

  • LP


    His silence during cuts is a great way to purge the remaining folks who may disagree with his ideas for Vancouver in the future.

    A good manager supports and fights for their staff. If he isn’t doing that, one has to question his motivation.

    That infamous question: “What’s in it for me?”

    Unless someone else can provide some insight into other reasons for silence, the city needs to worry about what the Calgary boy will be up to in the future.

  • Boy oh boy LP, you sure as hell don’t know how the city works . . . do you!

    If capital in-flow decides the best return will come from area “A” then area “A” gets the attention.

    If capital in-flow justifies “X” number of time-serves at “Thu hall” then “X” number it will be.

    “He” can do little else than arrange the deck chairs . . .


  • JK

    Spoken like a bunch of bureaucrats!

    This discussion seems to be all about the Planning Department and Brent Toderian’s perceived shortcomings as a manager. Perhaps no one has noticed, but applications for new development permits, building permits, rezonings, etc., have fallen precipitously. The Planning Department was built on the back of a sustained construction boom that has come to an end and it could be quite some time before it gets back onto stable ground. Undoubtedly there is excess capacity in the system – how can there not be if the inflow of new applications are a miniscule fraction of what they used to be? – so it seems like a pretty reasonable attempt at fiscal prudence to implement a hiring freeze if the more direct action of layoffs is not pursued.

    Cost containment and reduction have to come from somewhere. Fees and property taxes increases have already been be implemented, some services have been eroded, but the civic budgets have a long way to go before being “balanced”.

  • LP


    I’m all too familiar with how organizations are run, both publicly and privately. I know that weak begets weak, and thats what we have.

    Since you’re of the ‘defeatist’ mindset that “He” can do little else then arrange the deck chairs, then you wouldn’t be the type of person I’d want in my organization…..and for that matter neither is Brent Toderian from the sounds of it.

    You simply don’t get to that level without knowing how to get what you need to do your job, and that includes in public organizations. That is unless you’ve risen by kissing everyone’s ass along the way.

    From Penny “ledger troll” Ballem to Brent Toderian, this city is going to be in deep trouble by the time the next election comes around, when hopefully they will all be axed by the next mayor/council.

  • spartikus

    I was wondering if LP considers the 17 senior managers who left 2005 to 2008 to also be an example of “politicization” or “weak leadership” or so on. And if not, why not.

  • Whoooah . . . LP

    “He” along with his minions has to Burn Umber. “He” is dealing with the likes of Concord Pacific that traces its lolly back to the opium trade: pretty heavy-duty dudes.

    Give the guy a break . . . he’s trying . . .

    Who would have thought, in pretty, innocent little Vancouver, the ugly horrors erupting on the north Shore of our lovely creek, could be traced back to the slaughter at Guangzhou and the 1899 Boxer Rebellion.

    Well what goes around comes around . . . who’d a’ thought . . .

    Who me “defeatist”? . . . in your organization?

    . . . errrrr . . . ummmmm . . . not in this man’s navy . . . I’m having fun where I am thanqxz

  • LP


    When have I ever given any respect to, or said anything positive about Sam and his administration?


    They’ve been gone 6 months already, we’re all talking about the current admin now. You’re getting close to sounding like the Liberals and their constant whining about the NDP and how they haven’t changed.

    I say your getting close, because the difference is that Sam and friends are gone from the NPA and those involved are attempting to plan for a future that doesn’t include Sam, and hopefully that dud Anton.

    Time for you to start focusing on the continuing mistakes and terrible policy coming out of the 2008-2011 version of our city admin.

  • spartikus

    When have I ever given any respect to, or said anything positive about Sam and his administration?

    So…that’s a yes?

    (And I would disagree. Those 17 probably had same personal reasons that those that have resigned and retired under the current administration)

  • LP


    Next to Larry, Sam was the worst mayor we’ve had period.

    Whether it’s politicization now or from 2005-2008, I’m not at all happy with it.

    Believe me, I had to squeeze my nose tight and hold my breath when checking that ballot in ’05. Some choice Green or Sullivan…..yikes.

    That doesn’t make what’s going on in city hall now any more acceptable because Sam was as pathetic as he was.

    6 years of BS was enough, and now thanks to the citizens of our fair city, we have yet another 3.

  • BB

    I don’t think that people realize along with the hiring freeze also there is an overtime ban, and no acting for when someone goes on holiday. So be prepared citizens of Vancouver to start receiving lots of phone messages that tell you to leave a message, and that person will return in two weeks, leave a message at the tone. Also with an overtime ban, prepare to see even more of a fiasco when a huge snowfall occurs, or some emergency event that happens overnight or weekends.