A few months into the One-Stop Services centre opening up shop at the main floor of Tom Davies Square, city officials are already considering it a fiscal and operational boon.
At a cost of just under $1 million, the federal government put forward $580,000 and the province pledged $150,000, bringing the city well below the $789,000 city council approved in its budget.
The One-Stop Services centre is also anticipated to save the city approximately $250,000 in operational expenses, which city council redirected during 2022 budget deliberations toward a transitional housing complex on Lorraine Street.
The centre consists of a curved desk at the south side of the main floor of Tom Davies Square, where customer service representatives are lined up at a series of desks to help people navigate municipal bureaucracy.
It’s “so people don’t have to wander through the building to get the different transactions they need completed,” city CAO Ed Archer told Sudbury.com prior to a recent tour of the facility courtesy of 311 customer service co-ordinator Cora Babij.
“Because the building is so open, it was the case that people would be regularly wandering around and inadvertently find themselves in work areas that weren't intended for the public,” Archer said, adding the One-Stop Services centre has also come with enhanced security.
The elevators and stairs to the second floor are now only accessible by keycard, with members of the public now being directed to the centre for all their needs. For situations in which a staff member from upstairs is needed, they come downstairs.
There are offices behind the One-Stop Services walk-up desk the public is able to use for more in-depth meetings with city staff.
The $250,000 in annual operational savings came as a result of “fewer pairs of hands navigating these application processes and transactions,” Archer said. “We’re providing enhanced service at a lower cost, and it’s good news – it’s just good news.”
Staff at the service counter have become more diversified and are able to shift to different responsibilities as needed. As an example, Babij pointed to marriage licences, which three people are now able to file. Only one person was able to provide this service prior to the centre opening earlier this year.
“We’re not running from one floor to another to go to different counters for different items, we’re doing everything here,” she said.
“There’s a lot more space down here than some of those spaces upstairs that are cramped in little areas.”
While the One-Stop Services centre reduces the amount of time people spend in lines, Archer said the city’s work to implement a new computer system will speed up processing time with things such as development permit applications.
“It’s going to be a much better process and easier for people to access,” he said, adding that it’ll begin rolling out this year and should be fully in place by this time next year.
“It’s a pretty robust program that covers both planning and building services processes,” he said, adding it will offer the city a “streamlined approach to the manual processes we have.”
In addition to the One-Stop Services centre at Tom Davies Square, the city has Citizen Service Centres with various municipal services available at six area communities, which include Capreol, Chelmsford, Dowling, Garson, Lively and Valley East. There is also the customer service line available by phoning 311, an online service portal and a 311 Live Web Chat.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.