October 12, 2017 8:50 am

Extended city hall service hours hit and miss with Londoners

London City Hall as seen June 14, 2017 (Matthew Trevithick/AM980)

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London’s new extended service hours at city hall have been both a hit and a miss with residents.

A report that went before the corporate services committee Wednesday said 6,736 Londoners received service during off-peak hours between May 2016 and August 2017.

Parks and recreation has been the most popular service by far for Londoners with the city seeing notable spikes in interest that coincide with the start of the registration period for Spectrum programs in the fall and winter of 2017 and spring and summer of 2017.

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Parks and recreation, social services and housing, the clerk’s office and children’s service account for the majority of the interest in the extended hours at city hall. The city’s business connector program, development and compliance services and forestry planning services have been less popular.

In fact, the city saw only ten people take advantage of the business connector program over the 16-month period the city collected data on the extended hours.

City manager Martin Hayward said he’s pleased with how Londoners are using the extended hours.

“We’ve only been going now for a year and a half. If you look at the banks experience with opening on Saturday’s and Sunday’s in their case, they also had a slow start in a lot of cases,” he said.

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The new service hours began in May of 2016 and were the primary issue in the 59-day strike by city workers in 2015.

The new hours has staff stay late on Tuesday nights and work Saturday’s to allow Londoners to interact with the city outside of regular business hours between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Londoners can interact with staff during the extended hours through phone calls, walk-ins and in-person appointments.

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The city spent $90,000 on a marketing campaign to make sure residents were aware of the increased hours. The plan for the future includes targeted communication plans, market research specific to service areas and continued monitoring of how the services are being used.

Hayward said they’ve already adjusted part of their plan due to demand.

“We’ve also taken a flexible approach here so we don’t provide service on Saturday’s on long weekends as an example because the volume just wasn’t there,” he said.

City staff say demand will determine the best use of new services hours to meet the individual needs of each service area.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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