BEPPLE – Strategic plans make a difference, even when things don’t go as planned
THIS WEEK, Kamloops City council sits down to make the strategic plan for the next four years. Myself and other council members will set down goals for what we want to achieve. We’ll be looking ahead for where we want to go.
Strategic planning matters. Without it, we’re floating down the river without a paddle, going wherever the current takes us. Having a plan doesn’t mean we can know everything that is coming, but without it we will miss out on opportunities and have fewer reserves when the unexpected happens.
Just as important as making plans for the future, it is important to reflect on the past. It’s important to look at what the strategic goals were for the last four years. Which were achieved? Which fell short?
The last council had four strategic goals. COVID, wildfires and floods all created challenges. Despite this, there were successes.
The first goal was governance and accountability. One of the biggest achievements of the last council in terms of this goal was the work on reconciliation, especially in partnership with Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc.
Earlier this month, this work was recognized with the awarding of the B.C. Reconciliation Award by the provincial government.
Second the previous council had a goal of a vibrant economy including business health, economic strength,and partnerships with others. The local economy is indeed doing well, as is evident by the shortage of labour, number of new construction projects, and the continual growth of the city (fifth fastest growing city in Canada).
How much credit this council (or any council for that matter) can take for a healthy economy is arguable, but the current council is well aware of how devastating an economic downturn can be. Services from parks to policing to fire protection need a tax base to pay for them.
The City of Prince George is facing a closure of the Canfor mill. The loss the property taxes from the mill, plus loss of 1,000 or more direct and indirect jobs will ripple through their community for years. Perhaps going forward the goal should not just be a vibrant economy but a resilient economy as well.
Third, the last council had a goal of environment. As part of this goal, the previous council passed the Climate Action Plan and put into the budget ongoing funding. The City received the Sustainability Excellence Award from the Union of B.C. Municipalities UBCM for the plan.
But there is still a long ways to go for the people of Kamloops to have transportation options like biking, walking and transit that are as viable for most as private vehicles.
Finally, the last council had a goal of liveability including items like arts and culture, healthy community, housing, and safety.
This might be the goal which was least successful. The referendum for the performing arts centre was cancelled because of COVID. This is an unfinished project that people want action on.
City parks and recreation help to make our community healthier. But Kamloops continues to struggle with an opioid crisis, and 40 percent have no family doctor. The current council needs to consider how we can best address these issues, especially given healthcare is a provincial responsibility.
Housing whether for students, seniors, young families or unhoused continues to be an issue. Vacancies are at 0.9 percent. Rents and house prices continue to escalate. Finding solutions to housing needs to be a priority of the new council.
Addressing the disorder on the streets was a top issue in the election and still is top of mind across the community. Thankfully the last council persisted in getting a second Car 40. This is another tool in the toolkit of getting people from the street to a more stable life.
The new council will need to consider more. Shelter space, and supportive housing are just two options to consider. Policing cannot solve problems related to addiction, homelessness and mental illness.
Strategic planning gives the big picture plans. In four years time, the question will be whether the current council will have delivered any concrete results.
Nancy Bepple is a Kamloops City councillor with a strong interest in community building projects.
When I read the interpretation of the strategic planning successes from the previous council I can’t help but chuckle. I just don’t have it in me at the moment to refute appropriately one by one the points made. The time and effort wouldn’t be justifiable because…because there really is no point in trying to explain we couldn’t be floating safely down the river with the fanciest possible paddle…while “blindfolded” in a sort of self-afflicted way.
It was poor strategy for the previous Mayor and Council to vote in an underhanded way to approve some of the sites such as Moira House and the former Greyhound terminal. There was no consultation with the citizens who would be most affected by the decision.
I would go as far as to say, this blunder served as the basis for our new Mayor being elected by a convincing margin.
I hope this new council looks to the blunder of the past and has a good, honest look at our new Mayor and understand why he occupies the Mayor’s chair.
Thoughtful and well written Councillor Nancy Bepple, it is encouraging to know there will be some wise words such as these behind decisions brought forward in a strategic planning session. Inclusive planning sessions are important so that the train gets on as closely as possible to the right track!
NANCY – Interesting article, but one issue you minimized was the need for our council to promote community security and improve the lives of the type of person that institutions like Tranquille offered. I was horrified when the govt. of the time shut down such places and released those unable to organize their lives into the mainstream of society. What chaos was seeded there!