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Nanaimo council allocates budget for strategic priorities

NANAIMO – Money will be spent by staff to research and collect data on items flagged by city council earlier this year.

City of Nanaimo staff plan to use up to $200,000 on concept plans for council’s top strategic priorities, which includes a sports and entertainment centre and waterfront walkway.

Nanaimo city council unanimously agreed at a council meeting Monday to put $200,000, previously set aside for development of a strategic plan, toward preparatory work for new priorities approved in August.

Nanaimo council updated the city’s strategic plan to include its priorities, key projects and initiatives, like the sports and entertainment centre, as well as the south downtown waterfront and affordable housing earlier this year.

The city reported in August the next step would be for staff to develop budget alignment strategies and accountability mechanisms as part of next year’s budget cycle, to make sure there’s adequate resources and follow-through on the priorities, projects and initiatives laid out in the plan.

On Monday, Victor Mema, chief financial officer for the City of Nanaimo, recommended politicians re-allocate  $200,000 toward preparatory work for priorities this fall, which would include concept plans, pre-design analysis and reviews.

When asked by Coun. Diane Brennan about how the money is proposed to be used, or broken up into the priority areas, Mema said there’s no way to determine how much would be allocated to any of the projects because it hasn’t been determined how much work has to be done on each one of them.

“As we proceed and work on these projects that will determine how much of that funding will be allocated,” he said.

Coun. Bill Bestwick said the strategic plan budget was established to do research, collect data, analysis, feasibility work, “the groundwork, the behind-the-scenes stuff, the heavy lifting to get us to a place where we can make some decisions as it relates to any one of the one to seven or five projects that we’ve identified.

“Staff would not be in any position probably to provide us with recommendations moving forward from the items that we identified in the strategic plan process without going to external agencies to have some feasibility work done, to have some consulting work done, to have some identification work done that is so critical to bring the amount of information necessary to make such significant and important decisions on the priorities that we established,” he said, adding council has already approved the strategic money for these initiatives and he’s happy once again to approve $200,000.

Coun. Jim Kipp reminded council of the projects and priorities of the updated document, and said he’s been pushing strategic values and plans for five to six years.

“This is what I think its headed for, to help develop this. I support the motion 100 per cent, or 200 million per cent,” he said.