The review and revision of the Strategic Plan looks as if it is going to be a scrappy event

By Pepper Parr

February 12th, 2023



Included as part of every Council agenda is a section called Consent items.

These pieces of information that Council is prepared to vote on with no debate. Any Council member can ask that an item be pulled from the Consent list and moved to the bottom of the day’s agenda where it gets debated.

The Strategic Plan done in 2012 took eleven half days.  It was the first time that the Plan became more than a collection of photographs. The result in 2012 revealed a huge difference in the way Staff saw the Plan and the way members of council saw the document.

Once the budget is voted on, that will take place on February 14th, (what a Valentine the tax payers are going to get) Council will begin debating the Strategic Plan, a document that sets out what the city wants to do over a 25 year period. Each term of Council (4 years) creates what is called a Vision to Focus

The Consent item was the Vision to Focus (VTF) Integrated Reporting update as of December 31 2020.

Members of Council can comment on a Consent item without actually debating it.

Lisa Kearns, Chair of the meeting

Chair asks: No need to pull it. If you would like an opportunity to have questions. Does anyone want to pull one of the consent agenda items ?
Chair continues:

Before I call the vote would anyone like to comment on an item I see that Councillor Sherman’s hand is up followed by Mayor Mead Ward.

Sharman: Thank you very much chair. Just wanted to comment on vision to focus. This is clearly a work in progress from last year that has to be updated for the new term. And so in my role was deputy mayor I had a conversation with Sheila Jones, Executive Director and staff to talk about that in the context of our whole planning process. Not fun not planning, but economic planning for the community.

And you know, we have this new fabulous financial planning regime that has moved us just lightyears ahead of everyone, although some people might not see it that way. And we have this 25 year strategic plan, that will be updated, which will happen later in the term.

We also have to make sure that we have an operating plan that aligns with the strategic plan and the priorities of counsel, which is the V2 F and in addition to that, we also have to make sure we do a financial analysis of the of the five year V2F. Now notice I’m saying five not four, which I will continue to say because of we need to cross over and make sure we’ve got the legacy. But what I’m getting at is that I had that conversation.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

And now we have other deputy members with each with their own role responsibility. And of course they have to participate in that process too. So this is the beginning of a little journey as we update V2F. I’ll let Sheila Jones comment on the timeline for that, but you know, it’s coming.

Mayor Meed Ward asks: I don’t know if staff can comment if they have not been asked a question.

Chair says: No Paul.

Sharman responds: Sometimes our procedure by law doesn’t help us have good discussion and continues:

Mayor Meed Ward comments: Maybe I can channel a bit of Sheila in my comments. I did have about 20 questions on this report. None of which you will be relieved to hear I will be asking today.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

I have asked those in writing of staff but as I got through the list what it occurred to me is exactly what Paul has said, we need to refresh. We’re doing vision to focus on a document that focused on 2018 to 2022 – it’s out of date. It’s last term, we need to look at this again with fresh eyes and fresh priorities and a number of the questions just because I’m sure you’re all curious. Were around things that were listed as not yet started not identified as a priority of council things that I know that are priority.

Zoning Bylaw review, digital submissions, prosperity corridor review, congestion, management, planning, and greenhouse gas emissions. The list goes on. There are many of them and when I saw, you know not identified as a priority, I thought well hang on. I think we actually have identified many of those things already through some of the reports that we’ve done, as being of great interest. And so bringing all the bringing all the threads together is really important.

So then my questions to Sheila Jones the other day was, you know, when are we going to have that opportunity as a council, because that’s the best forum is to bring all of council together to do a refresh of this reset our priorities and then set the stage for this term of Council. And if I can find my notes, I think it’s coming in March for everyone. So in March, we will have that opportunity.

I really look forward to that and also as I was reading through the list of initiatives it became quite clear what Councillor Sherman also said, which was there are many initiatives there that can now be attached to a deputy mayor portfolio, the recreation portfolio, the housing portfolio and the red tape, red carpet, portfolio. So as we continue to evolve the deputy mayor portfolios to link those initiatives to really a work plan for the deputy mayors with support is really critically important. So all in good hands and I’ve just saved you 20 minutes 2020 questions on the floor this morning and we can move right along.

Chair: Thank you very much, mayor. I too am excited about the updates. We will see division and focus. We always knew this was a living breathing document and that priorities change, and if we were to take our re-elected hats off and put on different hats – we are definitely a brand new council that wants to quickly undertaking this exercise once again to bring the reflective priorities from our constituents into this business plan, which will of course inform those future job evaluations and our metrics, and that will be an exciting time for everyone.

With these comments I will now look to committee for a vote please All in favour. Anyone opposed?

The item was approved as a Consent item.

Interesting conversation. We get an early look at what Council members want to do as Deputy Mayors – tasks that in the past were done by the city administration.

This just might prove to be a defining point in how this Council wants to run the city.

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1 comment to The review and revision of the Strategic Plan looks as if it is going to be a scrappy event

  • Blair Smith

    There was a long running ad in the “New Yorker” that touted “A title on the door, deserves a Bigelow on the floor”. Now while it may be somewhat difficult for the Councillors to hide new carpets in their office budgets or put new titles on their doors, what bet you that they have all had new business cards printed with the grand title of Deputy Mayor prominently displayed (perhaps embossed). I expect that they will all be tripping over each other, and staff such as Ms. Jones, in attempts to make their bestowed “portfolio” the most prominent and sound bite worthy (good luck Deputy Mayor Nisan). As an advocate of open government and effective public governance, I believe that the Deputy Mayor construct is just about as silly, ill-conceived and organizationally “messy” as a twenty five year strategic plan with 5 year review and update “focus” windows all constrained by a four year electoral cycle. I will give Deputy Mayor Sharman credit – not for revealing the overall lack of synergy in the City’s planning process – but for his comment “sometimes our procedure by law doesn’t help us have good discussion”. Amen to that sir. Amen to that. And now about your business cards …..