Nanaimo city council’s 2019-2022 strategic plan.

Nanaimo city councillors stress safety in updating their strategic plan

Council updates list of priorities with amendments, new action items

Nanaimo city councillors are putting extra emphasis on safety as they update their strategic plan.

Councillors, at a governance and priorities committee meeting Monday, recommended a list of amendments to the strategic plan that they adopted last spring. The changes reflect discussion from a facilitated strategic planning session Jan. 27.

Council’s four priorities – environmental responsibility, governance excellence, liveability and economic health – remain the same, but key focus areas and action items tied to those priorities are being expanded and amended.

Council’s new description of liveability will specify that a liveable city is a safe one, and a key focus area will be to “proactively address social disorder issues and advocate for support to ensure our community is a safe place for people to work, play, create and learn.”

New action items being written into the strategic plan include working with RCMP, bylaw services and Block Watch programs to reduce social disorder, and supporting the work of the health and housing task force to address the community’s health and housing crisis.

Under the economic health priority, a new action item is calling for improvements to the downtown core to increase pride of place, stimulate the economy and address public safety concerns.

As well, a governance excellence focus area will specify that advocating to other levels of government will include advocating for health and safety of community members.

At Monday’s meeting at the city’s service and resource centre, Coun. Erin Hemmens said the strategic plan should be clear and concise and she suggested some of the new language about safety was redundant, but Mayor Leonard Krog had an opposing view.

“It points out, and I think quite appropriately on the political level, if nothing else, the awareness that we have of what we’ve referred to as social disorder and all the things that flow from it and to recognize that health and safety applies not just to those who are suffering from all kinds of issues, it’s those whose lives are impacted by it in a multitude of ways,” Krog said. “It is the topic of conversation wherever we go in our city.”

Hemmens’s motion to eliminate the perceived redundancy failed on a 4-4 tie, with Krog and councillors Jim Turley, Zeni Maartman and Ian Thorpe opposed.

Another strategic plan amendment that was recommended Monday was ensuring that transportation planning is multi-modal by incorporating public transit.

“That’s not a separate lane, that’s part of the system and so I think what it means is we need to make sure that [in] our planning … there’s an emphasis on bringing that into the conversation here as well as at the RDN table,” said Jake Rudolph, the city’s chief administrative officer.

A new action item in the strategic plan’s governance category is a civic facilities review.

The recommended amendments expand the plan to four priorities, 10 key focus areas and 32 action items.

Rudolph told councillors that even once the amendments are adopted, the plan can always come back to the table for consideration of new additions.

“There’s a lot of important ones, and we’re trying to lift all boats at the same time, but some are more important than others,” Rudolph said. “I think the fact that you didn’t have a huge consensus on three or four items suggests that there’s a lot of moving parts in our city and we’re trying to do a lot at the same time.”

Council members generally spoke positively about the amended plan, with Thorpe saying, “we’re on the right track,” and Krog calling the strategic plan “a pretty ambitious agenda” and one that’s “appropriate” for the city.

The governance and priority committee’s recommendations will go to council before adoption.

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