School was in session Tuesday at Tom Davies Square, as the new city council spent a few hours going over exactly how Greater Sudbury operates.
The session included slick videos for each department, offering an overview of how the administration works, how emergency services are delivered, the roads and other infrastructure is maintained and how economic development is handled.
Mayor Brian Bigger said members of council have unique access to information about how the city works, as well as to department managers and other staff.
"We have the unique opportunity to ask staff questions about the detailed operations and get explanations that increases our understanding — and can help the citizens as well," Bigger said.
"For the new councillors, that's one of your biggest advantages of being selected as a representative of the citizens."
It gives them the chance to ensure residents know what is actually going on and mitigate the amount of false information people often have about the city.
"You can get the facts,” Bigger said. “That, to me, is a very important thing."
"It's about facts and information, and what we're building," agreed Ward 7 Coun. Mike Jakubo. "It's about navigating the spectrum. On one end of the spectrum is no, and the other is yes. That's something we deal with, on a day to day basis, with our citizens."
Improving communication with the public and making access to the right information helps "us move away from no, and closer to yes," Jakubo said.
CAO Ed Archer said the evolving communications strategy the city is working on will help in that process.
"It's a stereotype of public sector organizations that they often describe reasons why things can't be done," Archer said. "And there are sometimes reasons why some ideas need to be reconsidered."
But Archer said said is determined to find ways to solve the issues and find the answers "people are looking for us to deliver.
"The shift we're taking with customer service is to emphasize getting to yes," Archer said.
In fact, he says communications director Eliza Bennett is excited about changing Greater Sudbury's acronym from 'CGS' to 'CG-yes.'
"I'm not quite there yet," Archer quipped. "But that is exactly the direction we are trying to take."
Nine of the 13 members of city council were in attendance, including one of the two new councillors, Ward 11's Bill Leduc. Missing were Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti, Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini, Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland (the other new councillor) and Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh.