Sidney council has approved its new strategic plan aimed at setting the town’s priorities for the coming year and the next three.
The annual strategic plan review process was delayed from its usual fall schedule so that it would be set by the newly elected council, which approved it on Monday (Feb. 27). Despite that, Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith said the overarching theme of the new plan is continuity from the work started and completed under the previous plan.
“Several initiatives started under the previous council will complete this term, and some of the larger ones are the Active Transportation Plan, which is out on public engagement right now, but that process started last term, and we will look to approve that plan some time in the spring,” said McNeil-Smith. “Another is the parking study. We have to plan in advance for things like that to occur, and that will actually come to committee of the whole on Monday (March 6). Another is a review and update of the town’s website.”
Some priorities completed last term have also spawned new priorities outlined in the new plan. One of the most significant in the entire plan is the zoning bylaw review, which was spawned after the town’s new Official Community Plan, which was approved in June 2022.
McNeil-Smith said a zoning bylaw review must follow a new OCP as it provides the more specific guidance and regulations on what can be done in each of the broader land use zone outlined in the OCP, and provincial legislation requires it be consistent with the OCP.
“It will be a significant planning process to update the zoning bylaw, and that will take more than a year to complete.”
Other priorities in the new plan are modified versions of items featured in previous plans, such as implementing housing policies and initiatives from the OCP.
“It’s a priority to create conditions to increase the number and types of housing, including affordable options,” said McNeil-Smith. “We wanted it to be broader and speak to creating conditions to increase the number and types of housing, but we accidentally left out the word affordability from the plan, and that’s an oversight brought to our attention during public feedback (at Monday’s meeting) so I’ll be bringing an amendment to council so it is clear continuing to bring affordability to housing in our community is a priority as well.”
Some new priorities are featured in the plan, the most significant of which for McNeil-Smith is to begin work on the Facilities Asset Management Plan, specifically conducting the civic site analysis. That work will focus on assessing the infrastructure of town hall, the RCMP detachment building, public works yard, and the courthouse/driver services building to see what improvements are needed, and start looking at what those could look like.
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