Nanaimo council considers new strategic plan

NANAIMO – Councillors want to talk about the strategic plan before they discuss the budget.

It’s goals before numbers for Nanaimo city councillors, who want to talk strategic priorities ahead of the budget this fall.

Nanaimo politicians expressed a need to come up with new goals and objectives before they dig into budget details during the city’s first meeting on the financial plan last week.

The City of Nanaimo has released budget highlights for 2016, showing a proposed 1.7-per cent tax hike and public engagement plan and no new services.

City manager Ted Swabey called the budget supportable and hopes council gets through the process quickly to turn its attention to one of the largest, most detailed reviews the city has ever had. He also said focusing efforts on strategic planning and talking about bigger issues tied to capital planning is a way more important discussion for council to get its head wrapped around.

The 2012 strategic plan expires this year.

Coun. Yoachim agreed on the need to look at a strategic plan, pointing out there’s been no real conversations about what their goals are while Coun. Diane Brennan said they should be prepared for the next budget meeting on Nov.18 on priorities and what they want to do.

“If we don’t know what we want to achieve, we won’t know if the budget … actually addresses what we want,” she said.

The most important thing this council needs to do is communicate, according to Coun. Bill Bestwick, who said it is important to discuss strategic priorities.

“If we don’t have a clear direction or mandate to our staff about what this council would like to see happen, we may not be able to make changes from previous council’s initiatives.”

Swabey stressed that a strategic plan is a long process and needs community input and engagement.

Councillors unanimously agreed to meet before a budget workshop to talk about the strategic plan and endorsed a public process for the budget.

Online engagement will kick off Nov. 6, as the draft financial plan is released.

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