Mayor Goldsmith-Jones's Annual Address
Monday, January 11, 2010
Welcome to the New Year, and to the introduction of Council’s strategic plan. As the Strategic Plan Working Group wrote and rewrote the Vision and Mission statements over the summer and into the fall, they asked themselves “Will these aspirations hold true in ten or twenty years from now?” They took to heart the community’s desire to take the long view, and perhaps a more challenging path.
Before I go a little deeper into the strategic plan, I would like to comment on the first year of accomplishments of this Council. When we were first elected just over a year ago, we achieved consensus that we would do the following:
- that we would demonstrate the power of our ability to work together by setting a long term vision and long term goals
- that we would optimize the potential of the community’s asset base, in recognition of the burden of property taxation and the economic situation we are in
- that we would fulfill the Ambleside Plan including a strong role for the arts
- that we would demonstrate the value of municipal services
- that we would improve housing choice and focus on maintaining the character of the community
- that we would reflect the impact of climate change on local government
- that we would focus on childcare
- that we would support the Spirit Trail cycling path and a transportation plan
That was our first day. Some of the highlights of 2009 are that we completed the North Shore Police Services Review and put together a plan for celebrating the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. We have been very successful in attracting federal Build Canada and Recreation infrastructure dollars as well as receiving significant provincial government investment in the Capilano River Bridge replacement and the Spirit Trail cycling path. We succeeded in becoming part of Metro Vancouver’s pilot to collect organics at the curb. We replaced the Almondel Bridge and won national and provincial professional awards for the Eagle Lake Membrane Filtration Plant.
We opened the Community Centre and it is filled to capacity, we finally approved funding to fix the seniors’ centre building envelope, we passed a childcare zoning bylaw and are about to open to new childcare facilities, largely funded by provincial dollars. We are building a third artificial turf field at Ambleside – funded 2/3rds by senior levels of government. We are about to open the renovated Gleneagles Golf Clubhouse.
We legalized secondary suites, and brought the home based business zoning bylaw up to date. Two housing pilot projects are approved, with an approach to support more in the future. We have selected a developer for the Wetmore site, for seniors housing. We purchased another waterfront lot on Argyle – and only have six lots to go to fulfill an over 30 year process of acquisition.
The library installed its RFID technology for checking books in and out, moved the reading room upstairs and built a little theatre space downstairs. The Kay Meek Centre had its most successful year ever. The Police Board watched as our previous Chief became Solicitor General, and we swore in our new Police Chief. Our partnership approach resulted in the stellar Sarah McLachlan concert in September, which shows how we can bring first class events to West Vancouver, with no burden to the taxpayer, just the drive to collaborate and succeed.
And while staff and Council were executing this business on behalf of so many interests in the community, our working groups continued to develop policy on Housing, Childcare, the Spirit Trail, Transportation, Value for Services, Climate Change, Field Sports, and Access and Inclusion and of course, this Strategic Plan.
Apart from the importance of recognizing what we’ve done, I cannot stress enough how far the cohesion and focus of this Council goes towards enabling our staff to deliver on such an ambitious agenda and towards encouraging citizens to contribute their precious time – staff and the community see that Council is sincere in its direction.
The key goals of the strategic plan reflect the strong foundations laid by all of our working groups over the past three years, and confirmed by the community as the Strategic Plan Working Group tested these goals.
I try to begin things the way in which I plan to finish them. Last year was our beginning as a Council, and its hallmarks have been cooperation, clarity, comprehensiveness and focus. The Strategic Plan enshrines this way of working. It is much more than a list of priorities – it expects that municipal departments will be integrated, it expects that Council will offer clear rationales for new initiatives, including budget implications, it commits to biannual reporting by staff on our progress, and it places community engagement at the heart of its success. The Community Engagement Committee is being appointed tonight. I hope Council will support its renewed mandate to ignite the relationship between the community and this plan.
It is a breakthrough for this Council – and unique amongst municipal governments – to be in a position to introduce a draft budget that is driven by the strategic plan and laid out over multiple years by the Balanced Scorecard. The big picture work of the Strategic Plan working group proceeded as the Value for Services working group worked on its recommendations for how we could achieve our aspirations within a sound financial framework.
Staff has spent this fall creating the Balanced Scorecard precisely in order to bring financial and management discipline to our community goals. The Executive Team have worked incredibility hard this fall to prepare the Balanced Scorecard at the same time as manage their departments and produce a draft budget. On behalf of Council, thank you for providing this strong foundation for our future decision making.
There are significant goals laid out in the Strategic Plan which require Council to take on real challenges. The five key goals are: Civic Responsibility; the Environment; Land Use, Housing and Transportation; Community Life and Economic Stability. West Vancouver’s future relies on staff, Council and the community working together. We heard over and over that community life here could and should be more vibrant, and that people wish to be more inclusive and better connected. A big part of that is to ensure a better balance in housing choice, a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly approach, defense of the natural environment and better use of the land-based assets the taxpayer owns so that we are in the strongest possible financial position.
The Balanced Scorecard has translated these goals into some immediate challenges for us. They are:
- The need for a long overdue Parks Plan, which has been neglected since the 1970’s.
- A Land Development Trust to oversee the redevelopment of the 1300 block of Marine Drive, moving the Police Station to right here beside City Hall, and additional development of taxpayer-owned assets.
- Attention to intergovernmental relations, especially working with our MLAs and MP, the Squamish Nation, and North Vancouver City and District. We have been served well by our proactive approach and if we are to manage properly, we need to be ready for legislative change and prepared to coordinate and perhaps amalgamate services.
- Enhanced civic engagement. Our working groups work, and Council’s success will rely increasingly on this and other meaningful ways of having our citizens work with us on these challenges.
- Long term infrastructure management. All municipalities face massive costs for infrastructure replacement. West Vancouver is perhaps the first to figure out the cost, tell the public, and create the financial plan to manage.
- A new budget process which we see the beginning of, tonight.
I continue to be completely committed to each member of Council for your independence, your representative role and your outstanding ability to work together. You have succeeded in setting a positive tone which is not always the case amongst Councils. This enables us to tackle difficult decisions, and to keep our discussions focused on policy.
2010 is an extraordinary year for us. West Vancouver residents will be so proud of our community when the Olympic torch comes through town and is lit here on February 10th, and when the Atrium at the community centre is transformed into our living room for the Games. Everyone is welcome, free of charge, anytime, to watch the 11’ x 20’ screen where we will have the CTV live feed of all the events. Most evenings there is a concert or dance, there will be beer and wine and good food available. Our partners, Nunavut and the Yukon, and the Canadian Space Agency are here in West Van to make this Canada’s Games.
We are beginning 2010 by laying out the community’s long term thinking about itself. We are also beginning the year in full recognition that the relationship between Council leadership and staff’s financial and management expertise, in complete collaboration with the community is how we will succeed. That is how we will inspire excellence and lead by example. Thank you Council, for your vision in service to the people of West Vancouver.