The Week at Council: The Strategic Plan Gets Further Refined

It was a slow week at city council, but it was still a pretty consequential week as the horseshoe dealt with a sudden matter of community interest in a special meeting, and then got back to the business of refreshing the Strategic Plan. Many notes were offered in the all virtual meeting (thanks #ONstorm!), and now it will be up to the consultants to further refine things into a first draft. Here’s what happened in meeting…

Workshop Meeting of City Council – February 22

Before the workshop on Wednesday night, there was a brief special meeting of council that took place mostly in-camera. When it was over, Mayor Cam Guthrie announced that staff were given direction to talk to CN Rail about concerns raised last week by people in the area of the Junction about an especially long shunting that kept things noisy for hours.

At 6 pm, the workshop got underway, and due to the inclement winter weather, the entire affair was moved to a virtual only format.

The goal of this workshop was to further refine the five pillars that will make up the refreshed Strategic Plan for the next four years. After Wednesday’s meeting, there will be some further one-on-one feedback sessions between councillors and the consultants for anyone that wishes it, and a first draft of the new plan will come back to council for further commentary in April.

Before going through the pillars one by one, council shared some overall commentary that would come to form some overarching themes for the evening. Some noted that the goals in each pillar need to be more simple, and others noted that they need to be more direct and less ambiguous. Another note was that the plan needs to be focused on the things Guelph can accomplish while also recognizing that some directions are imposed on Guelph from upper levels of government.

In the first of the new pillars, “A City that cares about its environment”, Councillor Dominique O’Rourke noted that noted that there’s a difference between a goal like “Complete the Climate Adaptation Plan”, which has an obvious action versis “Advance the Storm Water Management Plan”, which doesn’t. Guthrie pointed out that there may be a difference between strategic initiatives and action items; like “updating the Tree Planting Strategy” (strategy) and “plant 150,000 trees” (action).

Under “A City that builds for now and the future”, there was some discussion about the City being overly ambitious, especially when here particularly we’re vulnerable to changing priorities at upper levels of government. Also, it was said that a lot of the master plans feeding into this pillar have several objectives, and maybe it might be easier to focus on one or two from each plan as opposed to something more nebulous like “Implement the Parks and Rec Master Plan”.

Under “A City that safely moves people and goods” many of the same criticism were made, but Councillor Cathy Downer warned that there was a danger in starting to pick and choose from master plans. Councillor Ken Yee Chew, perhaps speaking on behalf of the newer members of council, suggested that each pillar should include some kind of primer about each master plan it mentions.

The fourth pillar is “A City that supports its residents and economy” and at least once councillor felt that this pillar was a little light when compared to the others. As for the final pillar, “A City that works together” (or the “foundational piece” as Guthrie called it), council said that there needs to be some consideration about the expectations of the future workforce, and that acting on chronically low voter turnout in local elections also needs to be a goal.

At the end of the meeting, Councillor Rodrigo Goller asked constituents to get in touch with their reps if they have anything they would like to see added to the new Strategic Plan, and Councillor Christine Billings asked to start seeing the price tag for some of the items in the plan. Mayor Guthrie, who said at the start of the workshop that he wasn’t sure that he was excited about these new pillars, had started to change his mind. Unity among council in terms of the changes they’re looking for seemed to seal the deal for the mayor.

Click here to see the complete recap of the meeting.

The next meeting of city council is the regular meeting of city council on Tuesday February 28. You can see the Politico preview of this meeting here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s