Hamilton’s Emergency Operations Director Jason Thorne says there are no tentative dates for City of Hamilton staff to return to offices. Thorne told representatives of Hamilton’s development industry this morning there will be at least four weeks’ notice to staff before any return to offices.
Thorne says he will present the return to office plan to City Council next week.
The plan will see staff return to offices in phases. “It will not be like flipping a switch,” Thorne said.
Staff who provide direct services to the public will be the first to return to offices, especially at City Hall. Examples given included business facilitation, planning, and building division staff.
The city is monitoring COVID variants and numbers, and any return to office dates will be set in consultation with Hamilton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson.
Thorne was in the Development Industry Liaison Group meeting in his capacity as General Manager of Planning and Economic Development. He stated he was “wearing his emergency operations director hat” prior to sharing the update on COVID planning.
During the meeting, numerous planning and land use industries representatives asked when city staff will return to offices. The representatives state their clients are experiencing delays in processing planning applications due to what they say are inefficiencies due to city staff working from home.
Thorne states city planning staff are working harder than ever, and many of the challenges result from vacancies at the same time as the city is receiving more planning applications than in the past.
The city is actively recruiting new staff and restructuring its planning division to improve workflows and efficiency.
Thorne revealed the city is now leasing office space in the Stelco Tower.
The city’s return to office plan may be released this Wednesday when next week’s council meeting agendas are scheduled to be made public.