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Powell River Council asked to reduce strategic priorities

Downsizing urged during presentation, but members choose to adopt document
REVISIT PLANS: Kathryn Hjorleifson appeared before City of Powell River Council, asking that it streamline strategic priorities to only three. Council, however, later in the meeting, adopted a more comprehensive strategic priorities document.

City of Powell River Council was prompted to revisit its strategic priorities and reduce its list from 15 to three.

Kathryn Hjorleifson appeared as a delegation at the February 15 city council meeting regarding input to the city’s strategic priorities. She said like many in the community, she watched and listened to the January 30 committee of the whole meeting where councillors held a workshop on the strategic priorities.

“I listened to all of it, beginning to end,” said Hjorleifson. “I have some strong opinions and ideas about strategic priorities 2024 to 2026.

“I sent you emails with my comments on February 6, and my priority list. In that email I said that the list is too long, too wordy and the list is missing an important item.”

She said she was putting forward her thoughts with the express purpose of asking city council to return to the drawing board and fix the strategic priorities.

Hjorleifson asked what is a priority? She said it is the most important thing council has to do or deal with, or must be done or dealt with before everything else.

The second thing Hjorleifson pondered is how many items should there be on a priority list? She read a quote that stated if there are more than three priorities, the organization doesn’t have any.

Hjorleifson said council should see the strategic priorities through to the end and not swap them out as though they are dispensable. She read a final quote that stated: with two to three priorities, they will likely all be achieved with excellence. With four to 10 priorities, it is likely that only one to two will be completed with excellence, she said. With 10 or more priorities, it is unlikely to achieve any with excellence, she added.

Hjorleifson said council had 15 strategic priorities.

“The strategic priorities should represent the most critical areas of concern at this time for our city,” said Hjorleifson. “We have issues that are emergencies. Only these should make the list of priorities. These priorities are also fewer than three years.

“The only hope to move forward significantly on these items in this short period of time is to be sure the list is short and only two priorities for today are on that list.”

Hjorleifson said she proposed three strategic priorities for 2024 to 2026. The first was budget. She said council, city staff and residents need to clearly understand that Powell River taxes are almost the highest per capita in the province.

“Our city budget must quickly come into line with the reality of significantly reduced revenues with the mill closure,” said Hjorleifson. “Every effort in every department is to be taken to significantly reduce expenses.

“Every effort in every department is to be taken to increase revenue. Economic growth is a significant item and priority. We need to recognize that the economic health of the city is at serious risk.”

The second priority is housing, said Hjorleifson. Lack of housing and housing needs security is an emergency, she added.

“We have children in this community going hungry every day because the cost of putting a roof over their heads is sometimes greater than 50 per cent of that family’s income,” she added.

The third priority is climate, according to Hjorleifson. She said climate and the environment are in crisis. She prompted council to continue working toward climate change mitigation and adaptation by strengthening the commitment to reducing city greenhouse gases and by updating bylaws pursuing opportunities with climate resilience in mind, with zero emissions by 2050.

Hjorleifson said the three priorities she outlined were interrelated.

“We cannot deliver housing without money,” said Hjorleifson. “We cannot reduce our emissions without investing in new technology and getting rid of old.

“If we all work together with a clear, fixed agenda on these three, we can make changes for our future and for the future of new generations.”

She asked council members if they would return to the drawing board and fix the strategic priorities 2024 to 2026 list.

Council, however, adopted the 15 strategic priorities in its draft that was presented at the meeting.

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