Nanaimo city hall. (News Bulletin file)

Nanaimo city council adopts strategic plan

Strategies for economic development, climate resiliency among priorities

Nanaimo city council has a strategic plan in place.

After a process that included workshops and public feedback, city councillors adopted their 2019-2022 strategic plan this month.

The strategic plan outlines a list of priorities for the City of Nanaimo during councillors’ term in office. Staff will incorporate elements of the plan into the 2020 budget and planning cycle to ensure adequate resourcing and follow-through.

The strategic plan has four themes: governance excellence, environmental responsibility, and economic health and liveability are “focus areas” for councillors over the next four years.

By the end of the year, according to the plan, councillors want to have completed an age-friendly city plan, updated the fire service delivery plan and implemented an economic development model for Nanaimo. Council would also like to see an interim walkway built around 1 Port Drive and a feasibility study for “on-beach” options for the planned Departure Bay walkway.

Councillors, by 2020, aim to have completed an economic development strategy, a climate resiliency strategy, a downtown mobility study, and a review of existing city policies and bylaws. Council would also like to implement the affordable housing strategy and update the water supply strategic plan through a “co-ordinated” review of the official community plan, parks master plan and active transportation plan.

Long term, council wants to update a community sustainability action plan by 2021. By the following year, councillors want to see a climate resiliency strategy and natural asset inventory and strategy in place. They would also like to work with the RCMP and set annual policing priorities in order to respond to “emerging community safety” issues and see 1 Port Drive developed.

Advocating for fast ferry service was another priority.

RELATED: Nanaimo city council seeks input on new strategic priorities

The plan calls for council to ask the federal and provincial governments to take more “responsibility” on issues such as mental health and affordable housing, but there was no specific mention about dealing with issues and concerns around crime near the supportive housing sites.

Mayor Leonard Krog said it’s not that those concerns aren’t important, it’s that as a municipal government there is only so much council and the city can do.

“It’s not that it is not an important issue, it’s that we have neither the resources nor the jurisdiction to deal with it effectively,” he said. “We don’t build the housing, we don’t staff the housing, we don’t resource mental health and addiction.”

Krog said he felt the strategic plan is generally good and realistic. He said the city is moving in a positive direction, citing a flurry of building permits and development as well as improved relations with the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

“We’re conscious of the fact that you can only accomplish so much in three years, especially when you’re charting a new course for the city with a very new council and with expectations that are very high,” he said. “There are a lot of positive things in this community and that is what the strategic plan is speaking to. It’s speaking to the future.”

Coun. Ian Thorpe said councillors wanted something that struck a balance between setting the bar too low and setting the bar too high.

“It is by nature fairly general in its four main areas, but now we are able to look at those areas more specifically and develop some strategies and action plans, which is the next step,” Thorpe said. “Not everything in the strategic plan is going to get accomplished in the next year or even three-and-a-half years and we recognize that, but I think it is good to have goals that you need to strive for.” 
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