This Article is By: Nancy Foster On Sep. - 26, 2006
Who’s on First: Setting Municipal Priorities
by Nancy Foster
September 26, 2006
Most people have embraced the concept of long-term planning – the thought that if you don’t know where you are going you won’t get there. So how does Kingston move along that road – how does we define the city we want? And how do we reach long-term municipal goals in the context of elections every (now) four years and changing participants?
Following amalgamation Focus Kingston was an attempt to do just that – probe the psyche of Kingstonians to see what they really wanted and set out a process for achieving the goals.
Let’s see what was decided:
Hmmm. Pretty vague wouldn’t you say?
Following the acceptance of Focus, a Steering Committee and an Implementation Committee were set up. The latter reported to the former. A genuine effort was made to see that Council actions conformed to the Priorities.
I think it is fair to say that the exercise failed. Why? Here are some possible reasons:
So later we had the ‘Group of Seven Priorities’ (2003) built upon the 4 strategic goals as follows:
The 7 initiatives accepted by Council were to support the goals above:
The next set of priorities is set out in Harvey Rosen’s June 26th nomination speech in which he announces he will seek a second term as mayor.
see Rosen's speech: http://www.kingstonelectors.ca/forums/showthread.php?p=5371#post5371Here we find that the 3rd Crossing, Improved Transit, Promotion of Kingston, new affordable housing and rehabilitation of Lake Ontario Park, Richardson Beach, and the Memorial Centre are our new priorities.
I say ‘our’ on the assumption that if Rosen is re-elected his priorities will become Council priorities. There is little from Councillors past or aspiring to indicate that they have items for the priority list. Lots of negativity but little in the way of ideas that would exploit the fact that while an individual Councillor is one of 13 – so is the mayor
Lurking in the background is a wave that could derail the mayor’s priorities. Several of the candidates – some of them might even win - stress environmental objectives. While environmental objectives have not been absent, many feel that they are not at the top of the list. This is more than just an anti-LVEC stance. If Schmolka, Osanic, Hutchison,, Matheson, and Barnes win and if they can act together we may be witnessing a profound change in our city.
In the past, city-changing actions were usually the result of administrative initiative. Long serving administrators who commanded the respect of succeeding Councillors carried a lot of weight. It was through them that consistency was achieved. Continuing shifts in administrative responsibilities make it less likely that this city will ever see another Doug Fluhrer who, for better or worse, as administrator of Parks and Recreation, is responsible for the way city parks and trees are today. The adoption of the CAO position makes it more likely that it is this person who will give consistency to forward planning. However the track record here is not promising as both Focus Kingston and the Service Review went nowhere.
Our current CAO, Glen Laubenstein, seems set to go at the long-term thing again. Apparently he has had Dr. Don de Guerre on contract since prior to the city reorganization last fall. Dr. de Guerre’s major area of interest is ‘ the development of participative governance and organization and the further development of open systems theory’. Hmmm. Good luck I say. It will take a genius to meld this with the mayor’s objectives.