A year ago, on Dec. 1, 2014, the members of Summerland’s municipal council took the oath of office.
The council represented a new direction for the community as the six councillors had not served at the table before.
The Summerland Review asked each of the council members to reflect on their greatest accomplishments and their disappointments or challenges. Members of council were also asked to give this council a letter grade, based on their performance over the past year.
The following are their responses.
o Opening up council meetings to the public – 15 minutes at the beginning prior to votes, 15 minutes for public comment before adjournment.
o Repealing the land swap, and finalizing the OCP and setting the urban growth boundaries
o Opening the new library which I fought for as a councillor since first sitting on the ORL board in 2005
o Garnett Valley water separation and road renewal project launched
o Council setting in motion the Cultural Task Force- a major comprehensive initiative.
I have no disappointments in the first year, our council is an incredible group, and our new CAO Linda Tynan is turning out to be a great asset to staff and council.
In terms of challenges, the job of Mayor is both exciting and challenging and is a great opportunity to give back to the community.
The focus going forward is to examine the status of our infrastructure and prioritize its status ie., do a comprehensive asset management examination
o build our reserves
o examine economic opportunities with our “Mayor’s Task Force on the Economy.” The Task Force members are mostly confirmed and will be announced shortly.
In rating overall performance of this council I would give us a B.
Why not higher? Well you can always do better and should strive for better. Why not lower? I believe we have definitely performed better than a C or C plus.
I am very pleased we are widening Garnet Valley Road. Previous funding applications for the water separation did not include adding extra width to the road for a walking/biking lane. I feel if we did not widen it now it never would get done. I am also pleased to see the completion of the Official Community Plan (OCP) and the completion of an Environmental Assessment Report for the West Prairie Valley lands. We cannot have any meaningful discussions on uses for this area until we have obtained information on the environmental consequences.
I think that every newly elected politician at any level has to go through a reality check on what the complications for their objectives and goals are and how long it will take to achieve them. The biggest challenge in the future is the state of our finances. Summerland is not unique in this respect, local governments over the last twenty years have made fiscal restraint their main objective, which always pleases the electorate, but sooner or later you have to “pay the piper,” and that time has arrived. Funding for Municipal Infrastructure repair and replacement is a national concern and Summerland is no exception.
As a CPA I am not intimidated by the details of our financial affairs, but just as importantly, and probably not well understood or appreciated by the public, there are many conceptual and governance issues in municipal finance that have to be considered and that is what I see as my particular challenge.
Performance is for the public to judge.
I spoke of three goals during the campaign: improved, transparent communication with the electorate; a reversal of the land swap; and a solid, actionable plan for economic development in Summerland.
I acknowledge communication between city hall and Summerland residents is not yet where I would like it to be, but this is something that has been clearly identified in our planning work.
Engaging the community for input and ideas as we move forward with the new cultural pillar in our strategic plan is well underway and a similar process for economic development is just beginning.
I am not disappointed with my work done during this first year.
I am a director on the RDOS, council liaison to the Chamber of Commerce and the Water Advisory Committee, and sit on the board of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Coalition.
I feel my goal to establish a food charter/food council/food security strategy fits with each of these roles: farmland protection at the council and RDOS tables; healthy and safe food (OSHLC); effective and sustainable use of water for agriculture (WAC) and the near limitless economic opportunities of food: high tech agriculture, sustainable food production, value-added agriculture, and agri-food tourism, etc. Balancing projects and available time is challenging, but not insurmountable!
I would grade us a solid B.
Not lower, because we have worked hard to coalesce as a team, done a lot of studying and learning, and, I feel, are building a strong foundation and good rapport with district staff – imperative as we move forward.
Not higher, because we have so much more to do over the next three years. I’m looking forward to continuing to build on the hope and momentum I am feeling in Summerland. It is a unique and magical place.
Finding solutions to problems and asking the questions that need answers can be extremely rewarding. Improving the way that council communicates and makes decisions is something we have been working on and will continue to modify as tools and ideas allow.
I’ve learned to respect the different roles of council and staff within a municipality and acknowledge that many, many changes have taken place (both in staff and council) over the past year. These changes take time and patience and they have the potential to make our town shine.
We have a very dedicated and thoughtful Council and we work well together. We will continue to grow and learn throughout our term and I’d give council an A for all the time, effort, energy, and learning required in 2015.
I’m pleased we are making Council more open, transparent and accountable. Decisions are now being made at open Council meetings rather than behind closed doors. Members of the public can come to any of our regular meetings and address Council on any topic. We have strengthened our community advisory committees. The Cultural Plan Task Force, on which I sit, is taking an innovative, decentralized approach to public engagement that focuses on hearing from as many people as possible by going out to the community rather than expect the community come to us. The input at our Community Conversations has been extraordinary and proves people want a say in the issues that affect them. I’m not interested in sitting at a Council table that makes top-down decisions with little public discussion and I’ll continue to work on bettering Council’s communication, consultation and collaboration with the community.
We need to get going on asset management planning but we’re still waiting to hear about a grant application to start the process. An asset management plan is a systematic, lifecycle approach to managing public infrastructure in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner. Without a plan, it’s difficult to carry out the infrastructure upgrades we sorely need. We don’t want a situation where we repave a road one year and then have to go dig it up the next year to replace a water main. We need a better understanding of our infrastructure as a whole and a management process that looks at the total cost of an asset over its entire life, from construction to replacement. The District of Summerland has never had an asset management plan and until we do we will never get our municipal finances under control and we will not qualify for future requests for provincial infrastructure funding.
I won’t play the letter grade game. If you or other pundits wish to do so, go ahead.
I’m really pleased to be part of two initiatives.
We’re going to have an economic round table discussion. That’s going to be really good for the community.
The other is the Cultural Task Force. If you want to create a great vibrancy in the community, emphasizing cultural businesses can certainly aid in creating a richer, better community.
It’s a challenge to have a whole group of people who are new to council business. There is a lot of basic learning when you are new to a municipal corporation.
Every community is different.
There’s so much coloration in the decision-making process. It’s never easy.
I’d give our council a B.
I think we have a very broad horizon we’re looking at. We have a great opportunity to move forward.
We’re still learning, and learning requires time and energy.
I am very proud of our council’s effort to build a strong team and engage with the community.
Over the last year, together we hired a new CAO, passed a number of progressive bylaws, established the Cultural Task Force and renewed connections with the Penticton Indian Band.
I will continue to focus my energy on improving the overall health and wellness of our community.
Equally important are developing an asset management plan for Summerland and, as part of the Mayor’s Task Force, exploring new opportunities for economic development.
I would give our council an A.
Over the past year, we have all devoted an incredible amount of time to learning and planning.
We ask questions, consider options and aim to make fair and informed decisions. I am honoured to work with an intelligent, open and kind council, and I believe we have set ourselves up for three successful years ahead.
Things take time in municipal government and budgets are limited — but we are committed to finding new and creative ways to move Summerland forward.