This Week at Council: Strategic Plan Workshop and Committee Business

This past week, 2023 really started, at least in terms of council business. In the first two meetings of the year this past Tuesday, the new council discussed the intricacies of the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan as a way to set up council’s future debates about the new version of the plan. After that, the horseshoe dispatched a relatively brief Committee of the Whole agenda, the first one they’ve dealt with in a while.

Workshop Meeting of City Council – January 10

The first council meeting of the year was a workshop about the Strategic Plan developed for the years 2019 to 2023. Mayor Cam Guthrie said this was a bit of orientation for council, especially the new members, to talk about how they came up with the Strategic Plan and how it intersects with City business. He also noted that COVID threw a wrench into things as they were implementing the plan.

So council went through each of the five pillars of the Strategic Plan; how they were developed, what they’re about, and what they’re meant to accomplish. This year, as CAO Scott Stewart noted, is a transition year for council as they wind down one strategic plan and start another one that will take Guelph to 2027.

The meeting also offered some pre-budget work since the budget is organized by the Strategic Plan pillars. Staff reminded council that the budget documents will be available on Thursday January 12, and that each member of council has been assigned a “budget buddy”, a member of the finance team that they can intersect with one-on-one to ask budget questions.

After the presentation, there were some questions from council about asset management, how the key performance indicators (KPI) evolved over time, the accessibility standards in the plan, and the plan’s place in the hierarchy of governing documents at the City.

Guthrie wrapped up the meeting saying that over his tenure on council, the current set up through the Strategic Plan has created a greater degree of trust between council and staff because they’re all on the same page. Council doesn’t have to micromanage staff because they’ve all agreed on a shared direction. As for the 2024-17 Strategic plan, stay tuned…

Click here to see the complete recap of the meeting.

Committee of the Whole Meeting – January 10

The first Committee of the Whole meeting since July had a pretty straightforward agenda with three items. Most of the time was reserved for a laundry list of staff recognitions, about sixth months worth. For added prestige, Doug Keenie, president of the Canadian Public Works Association, came to council in-person to recognize staff for winning the organization’s 2022 National Public Works Week Award.

In terms of actual committee business, the audit committee heard from Matthew Betik, partner for KPMG LLP, about the plan for the pending external audit. Betik explained some of the procedures for this year’s audit, and some of the things that he and his team would look out for as they reviewed the City’s audited financial statements. Also, members of KMPG will be back to business as usual by conducting the audit at City Hall as opposed to last year’s hybrid approach.

The committee approved the audit plan unanimously.

The last item of the day was some additional appointments that council had to take care, one of which required a bit of musical chairs. First was the election of a vice-chair for Governance Committee. Mayor Cam Guthrie noted that presently he doesn’t have a vice-chair, and he wanted to strengthen opportunities for council by having one that can take over if he’s not there.

His choice was Ward 4 Councillor Linda Busuttil, but she was already sitting as the vice-chair of the Audit and that was an issue if they were doing this to expand council opportunities. This is where Ward 3 Councillor Michele Richardson stepped up to succeed Busuttil on Audit, so that the Quatro rep could take the new spot on Governance. Why Busuttil? Guthrie said it was because of her wealth of experience at the school board, and her ability to both support and challenge the
mayor on governance matters.

So with that sorted out, committee approved – in order – Busuttil’s resignation from Audit, Richardson’s appointment to Audit, a change to the Terms of Reference to allow for a vice-chair of Governance, and then Busuttil’s appointment to that role. Councillors Cathy Downer and Carly Klassen were also approved as the new chair and vice-chair of the Committee of Management for the Elliott.

Click here to see the complete recap of the meeting.

The next meeting of city council is the regular meeting on January 24, another workshop meeting that same day, and then the budget confirmation meeting on January 25. Click here to see the council previews.

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