Did you miss something? It’s understandable if you did, 2019 was a very busy year as a new council, a new city manager and various new staff all settled into their roles at City Hall.
From January through December, our city issued over 120 official announcements, produced over 40 informational videos, hosted 28 public engagement events, provided daily updates to six social media accounts, published council highlights every two weeks, prepared a monthly newsletter for every household receiving a utility bill, organized regular interviews with local media and held 34 public council meetings for special agenda, regular agenda, committee of the whole and public hearing decisions.
At the same time, council and staff also kicked off planning for the Skaha Park East Plan; prepared a master plan for the Robinson property, signed a five-year deal welcoming Ironman Canada back to Penticton; introduced bylaws promoting safety downtown; adopted the strategic priorities of asset and amenity management, community safety and community design; completed a new Official Community Plan; introduced a policy and framework to guide community engagement; prepared a plan to restore Ellis Creek; supported public safety through improved reporting lines for staff; and last but not least, approved a financial plan for the years 2020 through 2024, including next year’s budget.
While all of this activity played an important role in the governing of our community, it was perhaps the annual budget that involved the most work.
Beginning in the spring and running through to December, the budget process began when the public was invited to participate in the citizen survey. It then continued when council used those survey results to inform its strategic priorities and it kept going when staff used those priorities to inform their annual business plans. And finally, the budget process returned again as the focus of attention during a recent public engagement event that attracted the participation of over 400 residents.
When the dust finally settled and a direction for the budget was set, seven members of council, dozens of staff and hundreds of residents had collectively taken charge of next year’s spending. It was truly a community process, a process that included input from the public at both the beginning and the end, a process that was guided by strategic priorities set by council, and a process that was administered and coordinated by professional and qualified city staff.
As the year draws to a close and we gather together, it’s important to recall what can be achieved through cooperation and an understanding of each other. 2019 was not without its challenging times, but it was a year, I hope, that Penticton city council successfully demonstrated its desire to earn the trust of Penticton residents through open discussion, reasoned decisions and a responsive approach to our community’s future.
On behalf of my colleagues on council and the employees of the City of Penticton, we look forward to serving you again in 2020. May you have a wonderful and memorable holiday season with your family, friends and neighbours.
John Vassilaki is mayor of Penticton
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