Thursday, November 25, 2021

City Council's Strategic planning elements won't bring tax increase for 2022

Working out how they will approach their Strategic planning for
2022 made for some of the work of Council on Monday evening

City Manager Rob Buchan charted some of the course ahead when it comes to City Council's Strategic planning for short, mid and long term projects on Monday evening.

The city's top bureaucrat providing the Council members with two lists to review as to how they wish to proceed on a range of projects and programs in various stages of planning or development, the list compiled following council workshops in the months previous.

While the original two lists came with a varying level of some tax increases, Council on Monday chose instead to use the City's surplus funds to move their planning forward, eliminating the original call for a tax increase for that element of civic planning for the year ahead.

After extensive review by the Council members as to where they wished to place some of the elements as priorities, Council chose to make use of Option Two, which would not require a tax increase and instead would make use of the surplus to move the strategic plan forward.

"Just for the clarity of the public and the media,  that what's in the Agenda in terms of Option One and Two are not actually reflected there, they are reflected  in an amended version with Option One being a 1.3 percent increase and Option 2 being a zero percent increase funded by Surplus so just want to ensure that those are reflected correctly"   -- Mayor Lee Brain on the funding options for the City's review of Strategic planning for 2022

As for the discussion on the themes of interest, Councillor Adey led off the overview and called attention to some areas of the housing needs themes of the wider document and access of grant funding towards those initiatives.

The Councillor also enquired as to the flexibility of the plan to make adjustments should events require some reassessment of goals, which provided a synopsis as to how staff would approach the guidance of council on that theme.

"I think that there is always flexibility and ought to be flexibility in a Strategic Plan. The key is to make sure that we simply don't add to it without resources; whether that's adequate staff, or whether it's financial resources to do the job. But we should be flexible in my view, to be alive to and nimble enough to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves"  -- City Manager Rob Buchan

Councillor Mirau also spoke to items related to Transportation and how the list of different elements could be condensed into one element as part of the city's work on Active Transportation.

For Councillor Niesh offered his support towards the use of surplus funds rather than to provide for a tax increase to deliver on them.

Mayor Brain spoke to his desire towards including a Strategic priority as part of a Local Food System Strategy to their work, an element that as was pointed out, was  one already in place in the document but was not marked for immediate action but that of a mid-term item.

Towards moving forward he asked for some thoughts from the City Manager as to how the city could work towards realizing the goal.

"In Fact, during the earlier part of last year, while acting as your planning consultant with iPlan I did secure a price to do a Food Strategy for Prince Rupert and I think that we're in the order of around 55,000 dollars to do a fulsome public process and Food Strategy ...  it's a precise estimate which may have to be updated if we were to ask that firm to proceed with it, at that time we didn't have the funding approval to proceed, so we didn't act on it" -- City Manager Rob Buchan

Mr. Brain did offer up that it was not a priority at this time, but did make note as to how Council may wish to move forward on the idea.

"I'm not going to say that's a top priority in this moment, but I do know that there were community members wanting to move forward on that, and if Council wants to look at that at budget time, perhaps that's something we dp move forward with. And if we do have enough surplus to move forward on something like that, because we're going to have costs all over the place I don't want to stretch us to far,  But I think it might be something we want to move forward on"    -- Mayor Lee Brain

Councillor Nick Adey also threw his support to the themes of Food Strategies and offered up a reminder of a local initiative that may be of use towards the goal.

"I absolutely agree with you that a food strategy is a very progressive thing for us to be looking at. But I also want to make a point,  I think that it might have been  the point that resulted in it being put in the mid-term.  And that was that we have the Urban Farm Project which had its first year this year and my experience of it was, that it was successful ... So it may seem to me that in a way there's a piece of groundwork already being done around that and I would be very interested, maybe as something we do in 2022 would be to get the people that are working the Urban Farm  to come in and talk to us about where they're at, in terms of what they're learning what are some of the issues. Cause I think that would really feed pretty seamlessly into any thought we have on doing it on a larger scale or an institutionalized scale" -- Councillor Nick Adey

Councillor Barry Cunningham for his part, paid tribute to the work of staff on the planning themes.

"When you look at the amount of work that's being done and has to be done and that, anyone that says that staff isn't engaged.  They just have to read this document and know that our staff is over-engaged, it's quite a list of projects that staff has to handle" -- Councillor Barry Cunningham

Mayor Brain also made note of the council's plans for a wider information campaign and engagement process in the new year.

"In the new year we're going to seek to create more education around a lot of these items and try to do some more communication about all the details around all of this stuff. Because when you look at a document like that, it's tough to know exactly what is going  on with each one of these. So we're going to, in the New Year , move forward on some education and some information  for the community on these items" -- Mayor Lee Brain

As for the placement of the elements as the top items on the priority list looked as follows:

Option 2

1. Watson Island Business Development
2. Recycling program
3. Landfill Cell
4. VIA/CN Station renovation
5. Woodworth Dam
6. City Branding project
7.  Canfisco Warehouse leasing
8.  Ferry funding project
9.  Seal Cove Park
10. Encourage/Facilitate Gateway Development

We provided a preview of the report as part of our Monday council notes, which outlines all of the elements beyond the top ten priorities that council have listed as on the civic to do lists. 

The scope of the Strategic planning documents can also be reviewed from the City's Agenda package from Monday, though the taxation recommendations is now a moot part of the overview.

You can review Mr. Buchan's presentation to council from the City's Video Archive starting at the 25 minute mark.

More items of note from the Monday council session can be reviewed from our Council Timeline Feature.

A wider overview of some of the city's planning and vision projects can be reviewed from our archive page here.

More notes on past Council Discussion themes is available here.


  1. Time for a vaccine mandate for all city employees.

  2. The Mayor is using the wrong platform to advance his local food system strategy.

    He would make more of a regional impact if he used his position on the north coast regional board and liaise with other regional districts to promote his vision.

    The Kitimat Stikine district already has a green living section on their site -

    Metro Vancouver has their food strategy -

    Looks like food strategy isn't all that progressive after all!

  3. It would of been nice if the mayor had shared his how his garden produced this year. It is a nice idea but gardening is a lot of work and requires time to do it. Weather is another consideration against Prince Rupert and gardening.