June 4 GPC Early Thoughts

There is a large variety of items on the GPC agenda for Thursday. All told the meeting may go on for a while. I imagine the major news media (CTV etc) will also be there for the always “sexy” sheltering in parks issue for which a lengthy report appears in the middle of the agenda, which means the poor camera guys will have to awkwardly hang around while the more mundane aspects of civic governance occur.

Good thing I’m there to live tweet eh! Yay Twitter!

So what’s on the agenda?

Delegation – BC Transit

Even though this looks as though it may be a totally generic presentation and based on experience, odd and likely irrelevant questions will be asked by GPC members, I’m excited about this item because I’ve been riding city buses for many years and I’d like to know more about the governance structure and planning behind our system. Presenting tomorrow will be a senior transportation planner James Wadsworth and Tania Wegwitz, their manager of transportation planning.

New Operational Plan & 1st Quarter Highlights

It is in relation to this item that I was being a pain on twitter yesterday because initially a short non-report was put on the agenda saying that all attachments would be added on Tuesday. Looks like they were added today (Wednesday), which I suppose is better than being added first thing Thursday morning.

Late report tweet

So what are they all about?

As documented in the staff report the City is now focused on reporting out accomplishments within the context of Council’s new strategic plan. This change has produced the following documents:

  • A weird looking visual representation of Council’s strategic priorities that looks as though it was drawn by an aspirational teenager.  My favourite part of this amateurish item is that it has been uploaded in “portrait” mode even though it is designed to be a “landscape” document.
  • 1st Quarter highlights doc organized by strategic priority.
  • A 2015 Operational Plan that is organized by strategic priority.
  • A random looking list of what have been deemed Historical Items – meaning a list of prior Council & City initiatives that are not part of the new Strategic Plan. Staff are looking for guidance tomorrow on whether or not they’re supposed to continue working on these items given their new focus on the strategic plan and strategic plan only.
  • A interesting 1st Quarter report from VicPD which includes a PPT deck. One thing to note related to this, is that judging from how GPC received the 4th quarter staff updates I assume no actual presentation will be provided by VicPD tomorrow. And I think that is a shame, especially how Councillors like to complain that they pay too much for Police services. You’d think that they’d welcome each and every opportunity to grill VicPD reps on their performance would you not? Or is the lack of public questioning a money saving measure I wonder?

My only real comment about quarterly reporting is that it seems to take the City a long time (1+ months) to pull their reports together. I’m also really curious as to what exactly the “graphic recorder” they speak about may be? I’m kinda afraid that it might just be whoever/whatever presented the odd “portrait” graphic of the strategic priorities mentioned above. Perhaps it is actually something fancy.

2015 Budget Status Update

This is the same report that was on the May 21st GPC meeting but got pulled at the last minute. It was kinda fun watching the Finance staff turn around and leave the meeting that morning. So what is it?

It is just a basic report from the City’s Director of Finance regarding the status of various monies budgeted and spent during the 1st quarter of 2015.  My only question about it is where and how are the City Manager’s Assistant and the dedicated Council staff accounted in the City’s larger FTE scheme?

2015 Victoria 1st Quarter

And I ask this because you’d think the City Manager’s assistant (who follows him everywhere) would be accounted for in his office budget would you not?

Changes to City Grant Process

This a vague report from the Director of Citizen Engagement and the Assistant Director Parks and Recreation representing the latest in a series of confusing City efforts to supposedly consolidate and enhance their various granting streams based on feedback from  local community groups. As noted in the slew of appendices however, not many groups (n = 7) actually managed to weigh in and provide comment. Which concerns me but we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

  • Appendix A = letters from various community groups.
  • Appendix B = summary table of fee for service grants that includes a partial lists of what look to be 2013 applications for fee for service grants? This appendix then continues in a second attachment full of assorted documents,  some of which seem to be freeform applications while others look like a series of Fee for Service contract agreements with organizations.
  • Appendix C = Straightforward Terms of Reference for the Community Garden Coordinator Grant worth an annual $6,000 to the six community associations with gardens.
  • Appendix D = This is the April 15th report that appeared on the April 23rd GPC agenda regarding Proposed Alignment of the City Grants program with the 2015-18 Strategic Plan.

The staff recommendations are that Council:

  1. Approve the Grant Policy, including amendments as a result of the feedback:
    1.  A simple application form with a shorter version for the micro-grants
    2.  A streamlined reporting form
    3. An interim report requirement for the 2016 intake
    4. Pay community garden volunteer coordination grants and micro-grants in March
    5. Require presentations to Council only for grant requests over an amount determined
  2. Direct staff to accept applications for the 2015 Strategic Plan grants until June 26, 2015
  3. Direct staff to report on eligible applications at the July 9, 2015 Council meetings (decisions on awards to be made on July 23 after presentations)
  4. Direct staff to schedule two Town Hall meetings for presentations by eligible applicants the week of July 13, 2015
  5. Approve the 2015 Fee-For-Service Grants as outlined in Appendix B
  6. Approve the terms of reference for the Community Garden Volunteer Coordinator grant as outlined in Appendix C

What does it all mean? I’m not sure. A brief summary document from a Grants page on the City’s website actually makes more sense than the vague report mentioned above. Again, we’ll have to see where it goes tomorrow – then I’ll try and do a concise summary.

Sheltering in City Parks

At long last there is a good size report from the City’s Director of Regulatory Services that contains an Action Plan for Housing Supports and City Services for those currently sheltering in parks. For simplicity sake, I have created a separate attachment of the actual three page Housing Action Plan that staff are looking for Council endorsement of tomorrow. Staff are also looking Council approval of up to $350,000 in additional operating funding from 2015 contingencies to support specific Action Plan initiatives, subject to final approval by the City Manager.

The report seems pretty thorough from an operational perspective in the sense that many angles and implications are considered. However, as per what seems to be City practice the report is short on actual real time data and statistics.

For instance, I don’t believe any data is provided on the number of folks currently sheltering in parks and or on potential impacts to current users of the four parks identified as possible locations for Temporary Regulated long term shelters. These include: Banfield Park in Vic West, Stadacona Park in Fernwood, Royal Athletic Park in North Park, and Topaz Park in Hillside Quadra.

Quadra Heights Parks Improvements

This is a basic report summarizing public feedback on proposed improvements to Quadra Heights park for which Council has already put aside $100,000 in their 2015 budget. Where this seems like a simple item, Council seems to like micromanaging parks related issues so I fully anticipate that conversation around it may go sideways tomorrow. Or it may be passed on the consent agenda given that it is just “for information”. But I doubt that!

Vic West Park Improvements Engagement Plan

This is a report that outlines a schedule and means for engagement with the Vic West community regarding proposed needs and possible improvements to the Vic West park, which hosts the lone skatepark in the City. Of note is that there was a $50,000 allocation made in the 2015 budget for 3 months of consultation (June – September) and subsequent design of park improvements. The staff recommendation is for “endorsement” of the proposed engagement strategy.

Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Fund

This is another report from the now Assistant Director of Parks & Recreation regarding a possible new opportunity for funding of relevant projects – namely the David Foster Harbour Pathway (the staff recommendation) or possibly projects identified in the Vic West park improvement design plan once completed.

Agreement with Township of Esquimalt

This is a very short report regarding a proposed practical Confined Space Rescue  Agreement with the Township of Esquimalt. The staff recommendation is that:

That Council authorize staff to execute an agreement with the Corporation of Esquimalt, for their Fire Department to continue to provide Confined Space Rescue Service to the City of Victoria’s employees when working on the water distribution system within the boundaries of the Township of Esquimalt.

Apparently no rescues were needed between 2011 – 2014.

Liquor License Applications

These are two requests from the Bard and Banker and Irish Times Pub for extension of their liquor license hours to allow them to open earlier in the day (9am instead of 11am). Given that these are two upscale bars, the request is pretty run of the mill.

Airspace Parcel 2300 Dowler Place

I can’t say I understand this item which seeks Council approval for transferring provincial management of a airspace parcel that exists above a piece of property currently owned and leased out by the City. I do find it kinda odd though that the City doesn’t expect to recoup additional costs related to their enhanced management requirements of current land use of 2300 Dowler Place.

This is the Island Farms processing plant that fronts on Blanshard.

CRD Climate Action Steering Committee

This is a “verbal” item about City appointees to this committee.

New Business

Continuing in the tradition of Council driven items we have:

How to Amend the Strategic Plan

This is a pretty practical item from Mayor Helps and Councillor Coleman which Council is to consider adopting as a way of standardizing and future changes to their strategic plan.

55+ BC Games – Motion to host 2017 Games

This is also a motion from Mayor Helps and Councillor Coleman. The recommendation is:

That Council support a bid to host the BC Senior’s Games in the capital region in 2017 and commit to a contribution of up to $60,000 in cash and up to $55,000 in kind in 2017 should the region be successful in its bid. 

As context to this motion Helps writes that she was approached by a guy and this was her response. To her credit she also provides “notes” from the Games Bid package and a Business Plan Outline  that was presumably created by the same guy who asked her to consider hosting the games. Kinda like how the City responded to the request from another guy to consider hosting the 2022 Commonwealth games!

Closed Business

Closed business tomorrow include:

  • JSB legal/mediation update
  • Verbal Quarterly Updates from City Manager & Council
  • A verbal update on Employee Relations

No paper trail with verbal updates!


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