OUR PRIORITIES AND OBJECTIVES
The following list of key priorities and objectives was drafted by OV in 2011 when, by all accounts, Victoria seemed headed for a financial disaster on several fronts. The Blue Bridge replacement project was (and still is) eating up far more resources than originally budgeted; the city’s No. 1 Fire Hall, the Bay Street Bridge and the Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre had all been flagged for extensive upgrades or replacement in the near future. Meanwhile however, property and business taxes were running well ahead of inflation; city management staff compensation rates had exceeded not only those of other municipalities of similar size but even the salaries paid senior level managers in the provincial government and the city lacked a clear plan to deal with any of it.
Since 2011, progress has been made on some of these issues but not all. Improvements initiated since the new mayor and council were elected in November 2014 have included greater accountability and public access to the city’s business operations, and a new city manager has led efforts to streamline the bureaucracy and reduce compensation rates. The city’s overall economic health has been boosted by a downtown construction boom, a red-hot real estate market and a tourist bonanza triggered by a low Canadian dollar and energized tourist industry promotion efforts. So far so good. But there are still gaps that haven’t been resolved and looming large over everything else is the financial impact of the CRD’s sewage treatment plan, due later this year (2016).
Therefore, OV believes the following list of our original priorities and the list of objectives that follows it, are still very much in play:
- Stabilizing municipal taxation, and protecting services and grants from further cuts
- Developing long-term plans and finances to upgrade or replace existing assets, such as the Crystal Pool and the Central Library downtown, instead of pursuing unlikely new megaprojects
- Setting clear targets for improvements in public services, and challenging City staff to do their very best for taxpayers
- Using technology to open up City Hall decision-making to greater scrutiny and public input, especially for finances and planning
- Making Victoria a leader in environmental practices, by expanding gardens and green space, reducing car traffic and pollution, and encouraging conservation and alternative energy
- Encouraging businesses and families to stay in our city, and ensuring that downtown Victoria remains the economic and cultural heart of the capital region
- Repairing damaged relations with other levels of government, and convincing them to take on greater shares of regional responsibilities, such as housing and policing.
- Transparent, accountable and collaborative municipal governance
- Renewed strategies to maintain and improve the City of Victoria’s municipal infrastructure
- Local development that benefits all Victoria residents
- Increasing the City of Victoria’s financial accountability, transparency and expertise
- Drawing on municipal best practices in economic development to strengthen the City of Victoria’s downtown core
- Advancing human resources leadership and more efficient forms of municipal staff management
- The creation of a believable vision to unite the City of Victoria’s residents
- Delivering business focused strategies to generate greater local prosperity