Chianello: Mayor's 'strategic initiatives' short on vision — and consultation

Once upon a time, when city mayors weren’t afraid to let elected representatives talk freely in public, councillors would convene to set the priorities for the coming term of council. Imagine that.

They would meet at Pine View Golf Course (when the city still owned the golf course), or Lansdowne Park, for a couple of days of wide-ranging discussions. Councillors would throw around ideas for their own wards or the city at large. They’d discuss where they’d like to take the city and how to get there. City staff would deliver a dose of reality by explaining how much these ideas might cost.

Projects on the resulting to-do list became council’s strategic initiatives. Many ideas weren’t feasible because only so much cash is available for new projects (in 2007, for example, it was about $60 million). Still, ideas flowed freely, the likes of which we rarely hear from the current crop of councillors operating under Mayor Jim Watson’s watchful eye.

In two weeks, the public will get its first glimpse of the latest proposed strategic initiatives. These will not be the result of any sort of major council conversation. In a process instituted by Watson after he was elected in 2010, the list of possible projects was drawn up by the mayor’s and the city manager’s office.

Published by Joanne Chianello (Ottawa Citizen)

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