Building the city’s future

On Feb. 10, the city of Waterloo held its second input session for citizens to speak about the city’s four-year strategic plan. The city is holding the sessions to gather opinions on the direction it should take with the budget over the next four years.

After the introduction and explanation of the current strategic plan, there were two main components to the sessions. The first was small group discussions with city-employed facilitators, while the second was a voting session on the importance of certain values and directions.

The discussion components themselves highlighted what people thought was important in regards to environment, health and safety, the economy and various other municipal issues. Facilitators wrote down all the points that came up in the discussions for future reference by city staff.

Rob Trotter, executive officer to the chief administrative officer, assured that the opinions expressed by the session attendees are important in the city’s planning process.

“People can come to a session with a particular axe to grind, people come for a reason. That is why we are having more than one session, to get as much feedback from as many different groups as possible,” he said. “Everything that is down on these sheets, will wend its way into some sort of consideration for the strategic plan.”

Many of the important issues looked at in the sessions were about intensification of core areas, the danger of congestion of King Street in the Uptown area, as well as keeping the identity of Waterloo as an innovative city.

A topic that received little attention was student interests. The recent session did not house a single student representative and, as far as the co-ordinators are aware, a single Laurier student had not attended any of the sessions thus far. In the first session of the strategic planning series, co-ordinators noted that at least ten students from University of Waterloo attended.

Trotter expressed the importance of student involvement. “We’re trying to reach out to the university groups. It’s tough to get people out,” he said.

“I would suggest that [students] have opportunity to have their say,” he continued. “There are opportunities on the website — there is a survey they can take and open ended questions they can put comments in.”

As an additional incentive to go to a session, other than the opportunity to voice an opinion, the city has made prizes available including a $50 prize draw for filling out a comment card that is available at the sessions.

To appeal to the more creative groups in Waterloo, there is also a video contest posted on the city’s website for students and residents to communicate their vision for the city.

The next planning session is on Thursday Feb. 17 at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex in the Hauser Haus. Visit MyFutureWaterloo.ca for more times and dates as well as a link to the video contest.

To submit a video to the ‘My Waterloo is…’ contest check out www.myfuturewaterloo.ca for details.

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