Engaging conversation

City engagement officer JoAnne Kleb discusses the Parks and Recreation Master Plan at an open house in 2017.

Penticton’s first-ever public engagement officer is returning to her old job – and her timing is impeccable.

The city has announced JoAnne Kleb will resume her duties June 1.

Kleb left in March to take a new job as communications manager for the City of West Kelowna, but didn’t stay long.

“The position with the City of West Kelowna was a great career opportunity but the drive was more difficult than I anticipated,” she said in an email.

“I really enjoyed working in Penticton and am very happy there is an opportunity for me to return.”

City spokesman Philip Cooper said Kleb’s position in Penticton was deliberately left vacant because COVID-19 led to the suspension of engagement work. However, with restart plans underway, there was once again a need for someone in the position.

“When the opportunity to bring JoAnne back emerged, we embraced it immediately.  JoAnne is one of the best and most committed practitioners of municipal community engagement in B.C., with a strong record of positive results in Penticton,” Cooper said in an email.

“Her work directly and regularly supports council’s vision of connecting with residents on topics of strong community interest, prior to making decisions.”

Once back at work next week, Kleb is expected to reactivate the city’s engagement program. While the program will rely more heavily on online surveys a result of COVID-19, some in-person activities are planned.

Projects going out for public consultation include the lake-to-lake cycling route and a pilot program that would allow consumption of alcohol in some public areas.