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Coming Up: Jan 30 Committees

I don't typically write about committee meetings- most of their business ends up before Council later, so I unpack it then. However, this week a few reports and one decision are being made at the committee level. I wanted to let you know about them.

As always, all opinions and mistakes belong to me alone.

It is also worth noting: I am a member of the Community Living Committee, which means I have voting rights when it meets. I am not a member of the Corporate Services committee, which means I can attend and participate in discussion but not make motions or vote at its meetings.


Community Living Committee

Housing Development Corporation Business Case

A large topic of discussion in this committee has been how to properly support the building of affordable and social housing units.

One idea that has been suggested is having the City form a Housing Development Corporation. There are a number of ways that this could help. The two that show the most possibility:

  1. Having the Development Corporation undertake projects which do not receive bids from other entities
  2. Having the Development Corporation offer expertise and/or low interest financing to companies or non-profits undertaking projects

The second possibility is especially attractive to me. More needs to be done to stimulate affordable and social housing. At the same time, I don’t want to see the City competing with private enterprise. I also think that the non-profit sector often does better work than government. I’m interested in seeing how the City can best position itself to come alongside other organisations. And a Development Corporation might be a valuable approach.

Council has no firm thoughts about what a Development Corporation might look like. It is only at the “we should explore this idea” phase. To that end, in December the Community Living Committee asked administration to find out what resources would be needed to build a business case.

After talking to multiple consultants, administration estimates that a robust case developed through public consultation would cost between $120,000 and $150,000. A simpler case built with minimal consultation would cost between $50,000 and $80,000. This money could be drawn out of the Housing Reserve, meaning that it would have no immediate tax rate implications.

I’m not comfortable with these resources being spent yet.

Depending on its proposed design, I could see myself voting to establish a Development Corporation. However, I don’t know how the rest of Council feels. If the majority is strongly opposed to this idea, I don’t want to waste resources exploring it.

Additionally, part of the business case’s proposed scope of work is to “research and recommend main priorities, including key activities, of the corporation.” I think that Council should be setting these, or at least placing parameters on them. If we do so before ordering a case developed, we’ll get more relevant information and recommendations back. Furthermore, if we limit the scope of work, costs may go down.

The decision before committee on Tuesday is whether or not to order the development of a business case. As of right now, I intend to make or support a motion which tables this decision until Council has had more discussion. Throughout that discussion, I currently intend to push for us to explore the possibilities of a Development Corporation. If it is an option Council as a whole has interest in, I'll become very supportive of us putting money towards proper research before moving forward.

I go into every meeting with an open mind. I also value hearing other perspectives. I'd love to hear any thoughts you might have!


Eastlink Centre

In October, the Eastlink Centre received a new manager. He quickly went about leading many dramatic changes. You can read about some of them by clicking here.

Committee will be receiving a report on progress. From what I have been hearing in the community, changes are being well received. One change I am especially pleased about: in May we had 64 aquatics staff and spontaneous use in the pool was available 30% of the time. Now we have 88 staff and 95% spontaneous use.

This is a facility I am keeping an eye on. In fact, this afternoon I’m taking my family to checkout some of the changes (we typically go on weekday mornings, but I want to see what it is like on a weekend with tournaments happening). I’d also love to hear from you. How are we doing with the Eastlink Centre? It’s a world class facility which has had rough times. But does it seem to be getting back on course?


Mayor’s Task Force on Opiods

Late last year, Mayor Given initiated a task force on Opiods. This initiative was meant to bring community organisations together to collaborate on and share their efforts. This is a major issue in our community. It is also one that I believe the City needs to take more leadership on. I was excited to see the Mayor getting everyone in a room. Committee will be receiving a report on progress.


Leisure Centre

I've been informally throwing out ideas to the rest of Council about what we can do with the Leisure Centre. This is a facility we need to start forming a plan for. Councillor Thiessen (the Committee Chair) has told me that he plans to introduce this as a topic of discussion on Tuesday- he also wants to get discussion going. I look forward to seeing what some of my Council colleagues are thinking.

You can see what I wrote about the Leisure Centre during the campaign by clicking here. In the next few weeks I intend to publish a blog post with my current thinking.


Corporate Services Committee

Unaudited Financial Statements

The committee will be receiving an unaudited financial statement for the eleven-month period ending on November 30, 2017. You can see it by clicking here. You will be able to see a variance report highlighting where costs were above or below budgeted amounts. Right now, administration is anticipating a 2017 surplus of $2,648,000.


Procurement Processes

Our purchasing department is a critical one- it is responsible for ensuring that we get good value and quality work on projects. The City recently hired a new Purchasing Manager who is highly regarded. She was tasked with reviewing our current processes and will be giving an update to committee.


That is the committee work before Council this week. As always, I welcome your feedback and questions.

Thanks for reading!