General manager walks the plank – but no one pushes him into the water. This is good news?

Is there room for change in the delegated authority process?  Do you need details on all the tenders awarded?  Councillor Craven took the position that the amount had been approved at the budget level – Councillor Dennison wanted to see every tender awarded and know who it was given to.  They appeared to saw off and do what is done at the Region – a list gets put out a couple of times a year.

Councillor Meed Ward thought the use of workshops was the best way to send information from one side of the horse shoe to the other.  Mayor Goldring liked the Update approach that has been used on the Pier and the Official Plan review.

The Advisory Committees the city has created got a mixed response.  Other than Heritage Burlington, which has statutory obligations,  and the Sustainable Development Committee, no one thought they were giving much in the way of advice to council.  Transit Advisory has been re-constituted and will need a little time before they can say much.  It was a total mess in the past – but then so was Heritage,  so change is possible.

The Waterfront Advisory didn’t send much in the way of advice to Council – the one idea they did have – turning the Pump House into a wine bar/coffee shop is stuck in some kind of a limbo somewhere.  An update on that project would be nice by the way.

The waterfront and what we do with it got lassoed by Meed Ward when she set up her own private Waterfront Committee – but they’ve not sent any advice upstream to council yet either.

What the city appears to be working towards is an alignment of what gets done by staff with the Strategic Plan.  That Plan has been a focal point for many of the committee conversations and everything done is referenced to the Plan.

KPMG consultant Georgina Black, on the right, took Council through the process of creating a Strategic Plan. Councillor Taylor was a favourite of Blacks.

What is interesting on reflection is that the 10 + days spent in 2011 on the creation of the plan was one that both confused and confounded members of council and city staff.  Georgina Black, the KPMG consultant who took staff through the process, found  she was not able to get the group to the point where they could identify that one thing that made Burlington the city it is.  She called it the BHAG – the Big Hairy Audacious Goal – they never did find it, which in itself is not unusual.

Burlington is conflicted to some degree with what it wants to be when it grows up.  The elected officials are expected to set the tone and the direction in the belief that they represent the will of the people and that should be more than enough to build a Strategic Plan on.

Black found that this Council and many staff members were not familiar with the Strategic Plan process and they stumbled quite a bit.  It will be interesting to see what Council decides to do with the Plan they have – will there be a Strategic Plan 2.0?   If there is – it will have to be when a new Council is sworn in and who knows how many members of this Council will be on that one.  There are a few shoe-ins, maybe by acclamation; but there are far more that are iffy within their wards and others feeling the effect of their age.

You do what you have to do to get the job done. Here, Stewart in the yellow top is taking part in the opening of the water park at Mountainside, a federally funded project whre the MP shows up for the photo op.

But all that is for another day.  For a General Manager to put his head on the chopping block and then hand the axe over to council is certainly different for this city.

What does it mean, where will it take us?  Not clear yet. 

What was most interesting is that no one even spoke of the Economic Development Corporation – the biggest thorn in Stewart’s side, the most significant problem for the city in terms of where revenue is going to come from and how the economic side of the city is going to develop during the next five to seven years.

Interesting omission.

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2 comments to General manager walks the plank – but no one pushes him into the water. This is good news?

  • Rob Narejko

    Very good information on how the City runs. We have some very capable, thoughtful people working for us.

    Interesting that some Councillors do not know about the strategic plan or how it was created – they did sign off on it:

    The City has a strategic plan, but the political will to enact it is not there. From what I have seen from a few Councillors, the plan is to do what it is the best interest of a select few (in their ward) vs doing what is best for the City as a whole. I know that is the way to get re-elected, so I can’t say that I can fault them. But progress suffers and it will show in the future viability of the City – what businesses are attracted to locate here and what businesses decide to remain here.

    The question is how do you move forward when so many people want the status quo? Leadership comes to mind. People will follow a leader and most people say they want strong leadership – until it comes to their back yard. The leader(s) needs to convince them of the over-all benefits to the City and ‘what’s in it for me’.

    After 10 days with a consultant and no answer for a BHAG? That is a less than desirable outcome. Sounds like expectations were mismanaged. A City is very complex in meeting the needs of its people. To define ONE thing would be impossible.

    As for the BHAG: Quality of life, which means:
    – liveable, walkable neighbourhoods
    – green space / recreation facilities
    – community ‘fabric’ – events that pull the community together and engage them
    – respect for individuality

    Agreed – Economic Development Commission – very big topic. Needs to be front and centre.

  • J Marshall

    Check your facts. I understand that Mr. Stewart came to
    Burlington from a similar post in London, Ontario.
    Burlington is better off without any “cast offs” from
    the City of Hamilton.
    Editors note: No Sir the FACT is Scott Stewart did come to Burlington from Hamilton. The city manager Jeff Fielding came to us from London, Ontario