Happy 1st Election Birthday to us as a council! It has been an interesting year of learning, and one that we all hope has seen some positive progress in our collective priorities. Although significant senior staff changes have occurred over the past year, our high-priority goal of improving business processes and the “customer service experience” has made progress in many areas. Both staff and council are convinced that these improvements will benefit both economic development and the day-to-day service that is provided to our citizens.
One of the reasons I ran for council was the worry I had over the ever-growing debt of the SODC. After council gave clear direction to the SODC Board in January, significant progress has been made in preparing the SODC package for market. In fact, council is looking forward to hearing the results of the request for proposals that come from the worldwide market. I certainly hope that we are able to move forward with a proposal that both repays the debt and creates significant economic development.
The recent roll-out of the draft Parks and Recreation Master Plan at the Seniors’ Centre showed the passion our community feels about certain aspects of the district. The venue was absolutely full of citizens who were eager to share their views and expectations. To me, this event clearly demonstrated that we need to harness this high level of engagement and get the most we can from it. We need to ensure that the folks that didn’t feel they were heard or fairly considered, the folks that feel they were left out, and the folks that feel they have more to add have an open forum for discussion before the plan comes to council.
The packed room at the Seniors’ Centre was in stark comparison to the same room during our budget open house, which was nearly empty. As we start the budget process for 2013 and beyond, a process that will impact every taxpayer, fee payer and customer service recipient, I suggest that as many of you as possible get involved. We have serious decisions to make on infrastructure, recreational spending, grants, customer service levels and reserves. Your input is needed.
As we enter our second year, council will be revisiting our Strategic Plan to ensure that our priorities and the dedication and focus of staff resources are properly aligned. We have a great staff team in place. They, along with council, are dedicated to moving our community forward.