TOWN OF WATSON LAKE STRATEGIC PLAN UPDATE OCTOBER 2013

INTRODUCTION

 

In October 2011 Watson Lake Town Council prepared and adopted a Corporate Strategic Plan. The intent of the Plan was to guide actions of the municipality towards achieving those matters deemed to be of highest priority by the Council of the day. In 2013 the current Council determined it was time to review and renew the previous document.

 

The following report arises from the efforts of Council members, working with senior staff, to follow progress on actions supported by the previous plan; to examine current community issues and needs; and then to develop a new updated set of corporate priorities.

 

TWO YEAR REVIEW

 

The following headings capture the strategic priorities contained within the previous plan, reviews what actions actually took place and assesses some future needs.

 

COMMUNITY RELATIONS

 

  • Desire to broadcast meetings on TV
  • Introduce use of regular management meetings
  • Not using Town Hall meetings as much as planned
  • Still trying to outreach to Liard First Nation

 

LIVING GREEN

 

  • Currently preparing landfill for recycling
  • Planned actions on highway pollution
  • Introduced a pilot project on blue bins

 

SERVING THE COMMUNITY

 

  • Have been using Strategic Plan to guide actions
  • Council meetings running well
  • Trust evident between Council and Staff

 

 

INFRASTRUCTURE

 

  • Working on water and sewer projects
  • New Water Treatment Plant in the works
  • Ongoing maintenance has increased
  • Landfill improvements under way
  • Downtown drainage requires attention and actions

 

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

 

  • Good controls in place
  • Grants being accessed
  • Reserve strategy to be examined
  • Tax increases under control

 

LIVEABLE COMMUNITY

 

  • Appointed Economic Development Committee has been active
  • Strategy developed, top priorities being actioned
  • Daycare issues resolved, dollars provided

 

PLANNING FUTURE

 

  • lCSP review underway
  • Zoning bylaw update in process
  • Land development protocol signed with YG

 

PROTECTING COMMUNITY

 

  • Input to policing services has been sought
  • Bylaw services improved
  • Volunteerism is changing

 

INTERNAL COMMUNICATION

 

  • Always seem to need more
  • Promoted open discussion/dialogue
  • Budget Preparation- include advance Open House
  • Like to host topic specific workshops 4/year
  • Establish and support annual priorities
  • Always need to be aware of on-going issues

 

Viewing both the goals and achievements for the last couple of years Council concluded there was much value to be had from establishing a set of corporate priorities and then focusing all efforts towards their attainment. Accordingly Council then started to move forward with a new plan.

CURRENT SITUATION

 

The next step in the process was for members of Council and staff to look around the community and the Territory with a view towards identifying what kinds of issues and factors may have a role to play in affecting Watson Lake’s future.

 

KEY ISSUES

 

  • Municipal, territorial and federal taxes
  • Downtown pollution from highway run off and historical activities
  • Informing the public on municipal actions
  • Value in having a financial reserve strategy
  • Completing the zoning bylaw review
  • Implementing the Official Community Plan review
  • Adapting to changing volunteerism
  • Alcohol and drug abuse impacts
  • Fracking/LNG conversion
  • OCP designation of residential areas
  • Rezoning of some Downtown Commercial areas

 

These are examples of issues that members of both Council and senior staff identified as potentially having impacts on the community or where they are present today, are having current impacts. They cannot be ignored as they exist and are part of the fabric of the Town.

 

Council then proceeded to list those matters that they felt were of concern to the municipality, and for which the Town may have to address. Several specific action items are noted, but Council will welcome additional comments and suggestions in regards to addressing the concerns and problems noted.

STRATEGIC PRIORITIES

 

A/ HIGHWAY MATTERS

  • Storm water and lake pollution
  • Maintenance responsibilities

ACTIONS

  • Investigate significance and source of pollution
  • Manage impact on relations with YG
  • As a last resort legal action may be required

 

B/ ACTIVITIES OF MUNICIPAL CORPORATION

 

  • Potential use of natural gas
  • Opportunities for micro hydro projects

ACTIONS

  • Develop a plan that specifies degree and form of municipal involvement
  • Lobby for YG/Legislation

 

C/ RECREATION

 

  • Joint use agreement with YG
  • Liability arising from use of municipal facilities

ACTIONS

  • Actively promote use of facilities
  • Develop a strategy to increase participation
  • Work with community to understand needs for recreation
  • YG role, AYC is lobbying

 

D/ SWIMMING POOL

 

  • Long term replacement of facility
  • Difficulty in finding trained staff
  • Without certified staff can’t use it
  • ACTIONS
  • Investigate potential for joint training with other communities
  • Seek alternatives to meet lack of resources
  • Understand budgetary impacts of changing level of services

 

E/ INSURANCE

 

  • Environmental liability
  • Recreation programs and facilities
  • Municipal plans for buildings, equipment, staff, etc
  • ACTIONS
  • Examine opportunity to use reserve accounts
  • Limit budget impacts resulting from increasing rates
  • Need to look at options, AYC studying options

 

F/ BEAUTIFICATION

 

  • Improvement needed to community appearance
  • On both public and private lands
  • YG also owns buildings and land
  • ACTIONS
  • Review and improve rules and regulations that are available
  • Budget for cost to make improvements
  • Enforcement by municipal bylaw staff

 

G/ DRINKING WATER QUALITY

 

  • Need to improve quality of municipal water supply

ACTIONS

  • Develop overall water supply, transmission, distribution and storage plans
  • YG is likely source of dollars, reserves if available over time

 

H/ VOLUNTEERS

 

  • Recognize declining numbers
  • Dependence on continued demand/need
  • Community groups also struggling

ACTIONS

  • Value in creation of a volunteer roster
  • Improve management of centre
  • Support appreciation efforts
  • Need to understand impacts of options
  • Continue to support
  • Different than for workers
  • Develop criteria for granting funds

 

I/ HEALTHY COMMUNITY

 

  • Offer services and facilities to promote wellness
  • Support healthy lifestyles
  • Finding ways to engage volunteers
  • Attraction and re-entry of youth

ACTIONS

  • Need to work with HS
  • Examine opportunities to trade volunteer services for support
  • Be aware of best practices
  • Develop a new value for dollars strategy
  • Medical profession role
  • Teaching residents of benefits
  • Support attraction and retention of professionals

 

J/ OCP/ZONING

 

  • Need minor review of regulations

ACTIONS

  • Need to finalize/adopt revised zoning bylaw

 

K/ GOVERNMENT RELATIONS

 

  • YG and LFN
  • Working relations, friction hurts us all
  • Conflict avoidance is critical
  • We are all promoting local interests

ACTIONS

  • May try organizing joint meetings/forums with LFN
  • Need to increase and improve communications
  • Partnerships may help to improve political relations
  • Need a strategy/plans

 

L/ FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

 

  • Link taxes to services to identify value for money
  • Use some reserves
  • Long term focus needed
  • Fire Department – Operations and Capital funding

ACTIONS

  • Introduce fleet replacement scheduling
  • Examine use of user fees
  • Communications with citizens to inform
  • COLA as minimum
  • Extra needs to be justified

 

M/ COMMUNICATION

 

  • Always need more
  • Make use of newsletter, paper, radio
  • Town Halls offer chance to engage with citizens

ACTIONS

  • Increasing use of social media
  • Host 3 Town Halls per year

 

N/ HOUSING

 

  • Strong local need for various types
  • Rental options are scarce
  • Habitat for Humanity may offer local program
  • Property maintenance always an issue

ACTIONS

  • Need to do more lobbying with YG
  • Efforts required to increase land availability
  • Review rules/regulations to reduce barriers
  • On-going inspections required

 

O/ ANIMAL WELFARE

 

  • Community sees lots of bad behaviour
  • Concerns for public safety
  • Need more public information

ACTIONS

  • Town needs to be proactive
  • Consistent application of rules important
  • May need an animal rescue program
  • Look for society support

 

 

IMPLEMENTATION

 

Even the best plans will have no value or benefits if not brought into action. Council has seen and understood the benefits that come with a good corporate planning program and have directed that efforts be made to implement this plan.  The following steps will be considered:

 

  • Introduce a 3+ year financial plan
  • Publicize implications of expenditures on taxes, user rates
  • Examine a strategy for reserves
  • Promote informed decision-making
  • Phase in implementation to manage impacts
  • Make use of public information tools to inform citizens
  • Where required, raise rates incrementally to manage impacts on others
  • Need to develop solid 3 year capital and operating budgets based on strategic plan priorities
  • Use replacement schedule based on plans
  • Examine a user fee strategy