June 18 GPC Early Thoughts

I must say that I found myself depressed after reading the “reports” attached to the June 18 GPC agenda. I say reports in quotations “” because the  major share of the 36 pages on the agenda seem to be a regurgitation of previous stuffs. That said, I do find it interesting how the GPC meeting tomorrow actually starts at 8am  with a one hour incamera discussion on Personnel as facilitated by Ms. Jenkyns, Conference Centre Manager and Deputy City Manager.

So what else do we have?

I see that GPC will finally be approving their minutes from more than two months ago for their April 9th meeting, you can find my summary of that meeting here (warning for ardent supporters of Mayor Helps, said post starts with some critical observations). Of note is that this April 9th meeting was the first in a series of meetings held by Council to work through their final adjustments to the budget and strategic plan. Related to this, minutes still haven’t been produced for the rest of the meetings in that series (e.g., April 13, 14, and 15).

Potential James Bay Library Branch

This report seems to be a consolidation of items previously seen by Council but never formalized in report form for actual Council decision. Staff recommendation is that Council:

 1. Request that the Greater Victoria Public Library Board notify the City, after completion of its strategic planning process in September 2015, with the preferred option for a James Bay Neighbourhood Library Branch.

2. Direct staff to incorporate the Greater Victoria Public Library Board’s preferred option for a James Bay Neighbourhood Library branch into the 2016 financial planning process and associated public consultation.

On the question of why a James Bay location, the report for tomorrow speaks to how this need/idea was identified 2010 Facilities plan conducted by the GVPL board. Of note is that other theoretical options available to Council tomorrow (outside of the recommended option presented above) include:

Option 2: Council decides on the size for a James Bay Neighbourhood Branch before the GVPL Board’s strategic plan is complete. 

Option 3: The City proceeds with the Greater Victoria’s Public Library 2010 Facilities Plan recommendation to add a small-scale James Bay Neighbourhood Branch of 3,000 square feet. 

Option 4: The City declines the offer from the developer to lease space for a James Bay Neighbourhood Branch at this time. 

As an aside, I wouldn’t be surprised if Council goes for Option 3 tomorrow since it would be the cheapest option due to the city’s responsibility for all capital tenant improvement costs associated with a new branch as well as ongoing lease payments and approximately 30% of the operating costs (shared by member municipalities). Conveniently enough, it is worth noting that 3,000 square feet is also the base amount of space available for use in Capital Park. 

Lesson Learned – Financial Plan Process

This is the report that depressed me the most and yes, I recognize that it is silly for me to say so because the report is all good and positive and inspirational in its cheerleading of how, after 150+ years the City is finally starting to fully track and evaluate the value of monies spent.  The staff recommendation for tomorrow is that Council endorse the proposed approach for the 2016 financial planning process as outlined in this report (handy table graphic shown below).

2016 Financial Plan Process

The basic idea is to get Council and the public involved in the City budget process earlier. And this makes sense,  so long as the opportunities for engagement & consultation are actually substantive. Which they don’t always seem to be, and so it here that I have some concerns. These concerns will be explored as part of my Summary and Observations after the meeting tomorrow.

So stay tuned.

I will make one comment however, and that is to state with great emphasis that the claim of 2,000 people participating in the 2015 budget consultation process is hogwash, and has been for a while now. This issue of numbers was actually something that I looked at in my Early Thoughts for the April 9th GPC meeting back when Public Input on the budget and strategic was originally presented to Council.

Construction & Sales Trailers on City Streets

This is an item that came up in response to unhappy residents on Rockland Avenue street back in April who disliked having a large sales centre positioned across from a new multi-unit residential facility that actually only got its permits at Council last week.

1015 Rockland

General policy as outlined in the 2 page report seems to be that you can have a sales centres so long as its on the same side of the street as your development – in the case of 1015 Richmond the sales centre (shown above) was originally on the opposite side of the street.

New Business

This is a motion from Mayor Helps to provide the “in kind support” that was requested just last week from two ladies representing a new pedestrian Advocacy group in Victoria. I must say that her responsiveness in bringing this recommendation for support forward is quite speedy. But then I guess it complies with the Strategic Plan so we’re all good.**

**You may think this is sarcasm, but please read it more as awareness of Council reality.  For context I would encourage you to check out this link on my website which summarizes how bogus the Council strategic planning process has been and continues to be. You can also check out my summary of a recent GPC meeting where it became quite evident that no one had realized how the strategic plan was to become in effect the City’s operations bible for the next three years.

This ultimate nature of the strategic plan along with the commitments outlined in the Lessons learned budget report for more “fully committing” to clearly aligning the City’s strategic plan and budget are two themes that I will also be exploring in more detail as part of my Meeting Summary & Observations tomorrow. Here’s to hoping (please note I’m being genuine here) that my writing will be informed by the educated and informed questions and discussions that will be occurring at the GPC table tomorrow!

But I doubt that will happen.

Quite frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the four items up for GPC consideration tomorrow all just get placed on the consent agenda and passed without discussion so that everyone can head over to the Songhees Wellness Centre for the Westside Sewage reveal at 10am: Westside-Solutions-Identifies-Potential-Site-Location

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