On behalf of Council, I would like to share an update on what both Council and staff have been working on since Council was elected in October 2018.
Following the 2018 Gold River municipal election, your new Council got to work. One of our core responsibilities was developing our Strategic Plan, a document that guides staff as to what is to be accomplished over our term. The categories identified were:
- Financial Sustainability
- Community Transparency
- Community Liveability
- Economic Prosperity
While Council has moved many other matters forward during this time, some of the highlights are provided below to ensure Council continues to strive for both public engagement and transparency.
“Support strong, positive and open relationship with the public and community partners.”
- Develop efficient, legally compliant, manageable records management systems
- Staff were directed to complete a full review on Village administrative provisions to ensure compliance with legislation
- Develop a Bylaw Review Advisory Committee
- A committee was established. Council and selected staff began reviewing bylaws for deletion, modification, or addition.
- Structural review and organizational changes.
- The organizational structure was reviewed and updated with two positions filled as identified in the review. A Deputy Corporate Officer(DCO) was hired which filled a position that had been vacant since 2018. Additionally, following multiple staffing reports from consultants spanning over a decade, a Deputy Director of Finance was hired, bringing our total staff at the Village office to five. Council also supported the promotion change of our former Deputy of Finance to Deputy Chief Administrative Officer and Director of Finance. With the Village office being understaffed it was very difficult for Council to bring forward any new strategic priorities. This capacity places the Village in a position to complete Council’s strategic initiatives, comply with ever increasing Provincial legislation, and administer/complete projects that have been dormant for some time.
“To ensure the smart and progressive management of the Village finances to ensure sustainability”
- Consider new sources of revenue to aid in maintaining infrastructure
- Village staff were directed to make attempts to negotiate long term, sustainable Agreements with tenants at the Village Wharf (Grieg Seafoods/ Nootka Sound Services). Staff negotiated a 10-year Agreement with Grieg Seafoods, and renegotiated a new 5-year Agreement with Nootka Sound Services. These agreements not only bring in revenue to the Village, but also provides necessary support for the Economic Development Committee in acquiring grants.
- Direct Stumpage Fee revenues
- Council recently had discussions with the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development regarding the Village receiving a portion of the stumpage fees that they collect from the Forest industry in our area.
- Development of asset management strategies
- Council and staff identified the need for further investigation on asset management as it impacts grant approvals, and overall management of current assets. This will be a significant portion of staffs focus for 2021 with the development of maintenance management plans and overall asset management planning.
- Fire Department review
- Council requested a review on purchasing practices and new strategies for high dollar apparatus. Staff, through this direction, have identified purchasing practices that will lead to significant savings on apparatus while providing the same level of protection to the community.
- BDO Financial Sustainability Report implementation
- Council has continued to review and address how to implement recommendations set forth in the 2018 BDO Financial Sustainability Report. Staff has been directed to provide a public education session surrounding this substantial document, however this direction has been postponed due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions.
“Develop more robust methods for the Village to communicate and access information from the Village”
- Implement a communications strategy by using a multi-platform approach
- Village staff developed, populated, and maintained social media platforms, such as a Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The Village website was redeveloped from the ground up, providing much cleaner access to both municipal contact information, current events, and documents. In addition, staff supported the Economic Development Committee to develop social media communications as well as provide traditional mailouts. During this time, a municipal social media policy was developed to ensure conduct was adhered to by both Council and staff.
“To support the overall betterment of the Village residents and our neighbors”
- Support the Economic Development Committee.
- The Economic Development has applied and recently received grant funding for several projects including “shop local”, branding, Village Square kiosk project, and community wayfinding.
- Development of a Village Park Master Plan.
- This has been completed and Council continue to discuss implementation and funding of projects.
- Resurrection and completion of the Bio-solids project
- Staff have brought the project to 65% completion, with scheduled commissioning in late December, early January 2021. This project is scheduled to come in significantly under the previously reported costs of $1.4 million. A substantial amount of funding was received through grants.
- Achieve Cell service.
- As we all know this was realized in December 2019. As the service only reaches within town and approximately 2 km on the highway, it is a start. Both the Provincial and Federal governments acknowledge the need for cellular service on all highways across Canada. Council continues to push for a higher level of coverage with the goal to be connected from Gold River to Campbell River.
- Support the provision of high-speed internet access.
- This is an ongoing initiative of the Strathcona Regional District which, should it be successful, will provide fibre optic high-speed internet access to the entire community. Council continue to review this process and explore its potential.
“To support a diverse and inclusive economic action plan”
- Regular review of grant projects put forward by the Economic Development Committee.
- There will be continued support of the committees grant applications, Requests for Proposals and further project development, supported by staff. This is done in an effort to foster a supportive economic climate.