2014-2018 Financial Plan process gets started, amid questions of public involvement

Arlen MacLaine
By Arlen MacLaine
October 18th, 2013

The 2014-2018 Financial Plan process has begun.  At this stage, City Staff recommended that Mayor Greg Granstrom appoint council members to committees, including Service Level Options, Community Development and Social Planning, and Recreation and Facilities.  It was also recommended that the Community Development and Social Planning Committee be assigned the responsibility of highlighting the terms to be drafted in the RFP for hiring a Community Development and Social Planning specialist.

When the topic came up during this week’s council meeting, Granstrom suggested that instead of appointing council members to individual committees and then have them report back to council, each of these topics be discussed by all of council in a series of Committee Of The Whole meetings.  This would serve to streamline the process.

Councillor Kathy Moore voiced concerns about what this would mean for public input regarding the planning process.  “We’re always trying to get citizen engagement in the budget process, and I’d like to set up some sort of way that citizens could participate as well,” she said.  “I don’t mind it as a Committee Of The Whole, provided we can have some citizen representatives give us their input as well, not just at public input.  That’s why I like the committee idea.”

Councillor Jody Blomme said, “We’ve been talking about doing public input for this, the whole time we’ve been talking about it.  Meeting as a Committee Of The Whole doesn’t mean we can’t meet as a council too.  I’m not saying I want a Committee Of The Whole and not public input. I want public input, I just don’t see it as being an either/or scenario.  There is definitely going to be public input.”

Granstrom expressed the need for progress.  “What I’m suggesting, and what I think I’m hearing, is that we have these three functions as a Committee Of The Whole, and from there, we will decide how we want to go to the public.  But, we have to start this process.”

Though Moore was on board with the starting point of the process being a series of Committee of The Whole meetings, she still felt the need for a different approach.  “When we have public input, the public is not engaged because they don’t feel they have any input or real impact, that’s why I like the idea of getting people who actually come and sit on the committee,” she said.  “They actually have a role to give their ideas.”

Councillor Tim Thatcher responded that this different kind of approach, regarding more community involvement, could be precisely what comes from these first meetings.

Council resolved that the financial planning process be started by setting a series of Committee Of The Whole meetings, to discuss service level options, community development and social planning, and recreation and facilities.  Stay tuned to find out how you can provide your input during this process.

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