A communications manager with the District of Muskoka will help residents become engaged and connected to the community. That’s according to deputy chair Lori-Lynn Giaschi-Pacini who responded to recent criticisms from Huntsville’s mayor Scott Aitchison. Aitchison had said creating this position was “using your money to tell you they are spending your money wisely”. Giaschi-Pacini says it’s not about tell you why you should like the government. She says it’s about making sure you are fully aware of the services the District provides. She says a communications manager is the best way to make sure people are communicated with the most accurate information.

Below is Giaschi-Pacini’s full email statement:

“The District offers many various services to our residents therefore we have an obligation to make our residents aware of these services. 

These are services geared towards seniors, young people, disadvantaged residents and many others.  These services are often underutilized due to lack of awareness. 

Various Councillors and members of District staff have commented on the fact that the public is unaware of what the District does – this became very apparent during the last election. 

There is considerable effort that goes into obtaining grants and building partnerships with others to make Muskoka a better place, therefore our residents deserve to be made aware of all that is available to them. 

There are close to 48,000 households in Muskoka, each of which are impacted by decisions made by District Council – it is important that the people are communicated with the most accurate information possible – this is the best way of doing this. 

Please understand that this is not about “telling people why they should like government”, but it is about transparency and keeping people engaged, informed and connected with their community. 

Many municipalities all over Ontario have a formal communications function. Most upper tiers have entire communications departments consisting of multiple employees.  Additionally many municipalities significantly smaller than the District have at least one dedicated communications professional (including some lower tier municipalities in Muskoka). 

District Council had a long debate [Wednesday] about eliminating this position – once the vote was taken the elimination of this position failed.

Communication is very important in attempting to be an open and transparent government for the people. 

Also, this position is an 18-month contract position at which time it will be evaluated to see if it added value and a decision will need to be made at that time whether to continue with the position.”