Gibsons council’s newly minted strategic plan promises to focus the Town’s energies on its public assets and economic future, listing 26 separate projects — including a series of waterfront upgrades — as specific goals for the next two years.
“This is the most practical strategic plan I’ve seen in all my time on council,” veteran Coun. Lee Ann Johnson said at the Feb. 5 council meeting prior to the plan’s adoption.
“It gives us some direction we’re going in, but it’s a living document,” Mayor Wayne Rowe said at the meeting. “It gives us some concrete measures.”
The product of a day-long strategic planning session last month involving council and administration, the plan’s specific aims include improvements to the harbour area seawalk and Armours Beach; building new links in the pedestrian trail network and adding two key bicycle network links; developing a foreshore protection strategy; and enhancing Charman and Goosebird creeks.
Among council’s economic objectives, the plan calls for attracting a local food market to Gibsons Landing, maximizing the harbour’s recreational water lease potential, implementing improvements to Molly’s Lane, and hosting an economic development forum.
“The strategic planning session emphasized that the Town’s economic future is still council’s number one strategic objective,” chief administrative officer Emanuel Machado said.
The plan also targets communications and public service, with initiatives to include a citizen satisfaction survey, website upgrades, and updates to staff and council procedures.
In the plan’s introductory message, Rowe said the Town is refocusing its efforts to ensure the long-term sustainability of its public assets.
“This will become increasingly challenging as federal funds and infrastructure grants become more scarce, and will require diligence and forward thinking. An updated asset management plan and water strategy will guide council’s long-term decision-making on infrastructure,” Rowe said.
The “targeted investments” planned for the next two years, he added, are “ambitious” but will be made “by leveraging our scarce resources through partnerships.”
Finding efficiencies within the system is another key ingredient to fund council’s “core objectives and projects on the ground,” Machado said.
Councillors praised the readability of the document, which is viewable on the Town’s website.
“The whole document was produced in-house,” Machado said. “We were internally quite happy with it.”
Echoing T.E. Lawrence’s The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, the document also sets out “the seven pillars” that support council’s strategic vision: culture and well-being; green infrastructure; housing and land use; climate and energy; transportation; economic development; and governance and engagement.