The COVID-19 pandemic has caused alterations and delays in some of the strategic actions originally set out in the City of Quesnel’s strategic plan, but the plan maintains a focus on public safety, housing, forestry involvement and leadership, and economic transitioning.
As part of the Annual Report, the City is required to develop a strategic plan, which lists which strategic actions council and staff will work on from 2020 to 2022.
“Council and staff met numerous times to consider the key strategic initiatives, which have been included into the attached strategic plan document,” City Manager Byron Johnson stated in his report to council. “Council recently met to discuss the strategic plan of the City, taking the current COVID-19 pandemic into consideration.”
“That pandemic has changed a number of items in this plan, and quite significantly, or delayed those items,” Johnson said during the May 5 electronic council meeting. “However, the fundamental themes of this strategic plan remain the same, which are economic transitioning, housing, forestry involvement, and improving public safety. Those are the four key themes in this plan, which resonate in a number of different items in this plan.”
When it comes to improving public safety, one of the objective areas identified in the strategic plan is “increased RCMP/Bylaw enforcement.” The City added resources in 2019, and in 2020, the City is working to achieve the maximum community benefit from the resources that were added this year. Bylaw officers and RCMP members have been assisting with Public Health enforcement during the pandemic.
One of the strategic plan objective areas was to focus on economic development through hosting events and tournaments. All hosting has been stood down to COVID-19, and the City’s economic development department has been redirected to business support activities.
In terms of business retention, expansion and attraction, regular activity has halted due to COVID-19, and the City has shifted its focus to a shop local campaign and a business roundtable and business support hotline.
The City was supposed to host the Minerals North conference this year, but it has been cancelled due to COVID-19. The strategic plan lists 2021 as a planning year and says the City will now host the conference in 2022.
On the subject of housing, one of the City’s objective areas is to identify housing opportunities, work with developers, the non-profit sector and funding agencies, and partner with local First Nations bands and the Southern Dakelh Nation Alliance. For 2020, the identified action is to continue the work of the housing committee, consider how to address housing gaps that have been identified, and consider a municipal housing corporation. This action is listed for 2021 and 2022 as well.
Operationalizing the legalization of existing secondary suites is listed as an action for 2020 under the objective area of finalizing the City’s secondary suite policy.
Forestry initiatives include developing partnerships with key parties, fostering public support, securing financing and developing a governance model for a community forest in 2020 and advancing the community forest agreement application in 2021; as well as labour force re-development, which includes working with the College of New Caledonia, industry and professional associations on curriculum, modules and “made to order” programming to maximize opportunity for Quesnel’s future workforce; and collaborate with the school district and other youth organizations on attracting students to forestry as 2020 strategic actions.
Council approved the City of Quesnel’s strategic plan for 2020-2022 during its May 5 electronic council meeting.
Coun. Ron Paull noted that council had talked about the need to “pivot and adjust” during budget discussions that evening, and that applies to the strategic plan as well.
“The city manager has alluded to that too that because of the COVID crisis, a lot of what we are going to do and what we are going to be faced with is going to require some pivoting and adjustment, and I appreciate that,” he said.