Student Maintenance & Resource Team dissolved after six years of operation

AMS service saw a decline in clientele, issues with equipment maintenance prior to dissolution

SMART's informational website.
SMART's informational website.
Credit: 
Supplied via smartkingston.ca

After beginning operations in 2012, the AMS’ landscaping service Student Maintenance and Resource Team was dissolved earlier this month.

At a Jan. 18 AMS Assembly, Commissioner of Municipal Affairs Stefanos Hollands moved to terminate the service. The motion passed, effectively and immediately ending Student Maintenance and Resource Team’s (SMART) six-year lifespan. 

According to the AMS website, SMART provided property maintenance and community cleanup services to students, landlords, as well as other members of the Kingston community living in and around the University District. Specifically, SMART offered lawn care and garbage removal services throughout the summer. They also played a major role in community-wide cleanups after Orientation Week, Homecoming, Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day.

In an interview with The Journal, Hollands explained the decision was made as a result of multiple problems SMART faced, including but not limited to equipment maintenance and service quality.

“We currently have two lawn mowers which break down quite regularly when you’re using them for actual professional service,” Hollands said. “We don’t have a dedicated onsite mechanic, and we don’t have a vehicle to transport broken equipment.” 

He also said the repair shop SMART would contract for repairs was an inefficient and inconvenient option, often resulting in the service operating with a single lawn mower. 

“We weren’t actually able to service all of our properties in a timely fashion, which seriously threatened the quality of our services and our commitment to actually fulfill our obligations,” he added. 

According to Hollands, the service received multiple complaints from landlords because SMART employees were also insufficiently trained by the AMS due to a lack of resources. These complaints affected the service’s ability to both retain and obtain new clientele over the past couple of years, Hollands said.

Come September, almost all SMART employees were rehired, though both Hollands and former SMART Head Manager Miguel Martinez said this turnover was customary of the service. Their contracts ended on Nov. 30, so no current employees have lost their jobs due to the dissolution. 

The dissolution of SMART marks the second AMS service that has been terminated after Bikes and Boards was dissolved in the summer of 2017. 

Martinez told The Journal he was in support of SMART’s termination and had communicated this to Hollands. 

“I can’t say that it came as a surprise to me at all. The service itself financially, it does face its own struggles,” Martinez commented. “There’s a lot more problems with the service itself than solutions and a lot of the problems that we faced were equipment problems, insurance problems, and [the AMS] can’t really take on those problems.” 

“It was basically continue to run into deficit year after year, or terminate the service,” Martinez added. 

Hollands said the landscaping side of SMART won’t be pursued going forward, but the community cleanups that the service conducted will eventually resume under the mandate of the Housing Resource Centre (HRC) Manager. This position is currently a volunteer role, but will become a salaried position under the Municipal Affairs Commission (MAC). 

HRC Officers will also be paid hourly for the cleanups — the wages will come out of next year’s MAC budget. 

“[The service] was provided for landlords specifically ... we had to evaluate whether or not we thought that the AMS was positioned in a way to be a professional landscaping company,” Hollands stated. “The best route [is] to repurpose a lot of SMART’s role and re-allocate them to other services in the AMS.” 

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