Mayor talks about his first 150 days in office

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by Lucie Roy

Mayor Barry Turner made a presentation at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon held Wednesday at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre.

More than 50 were in attendance to hear Turner speak on his 150 or so days in office, his approach to things, and some of the upcoming challenges and opportunities that the community faces.

Overall Mission: Activate Community

Turner said his overall mission is to activate the community. By that he means by working together the community would get a lot farther than if we were are doing things in silos or individually, to do a lot more collaborative initiative, work together and leverage all the resources of the community together where we want to go.

In defining the role of Mayor, Turner said, “My style is more of a facilitator, bounce ideas off each other and to find outcomes together. I think that is really important to do to get to the right places. I am not a guy that gets hung up on outcomes, outcomes can change with new ideas, the important thing is to focus on doing things right to get the best outcome every time.”

“Next step once you have the outcome is defined, it is to find a clear path and the number one job of the mayor is to remove those barriers to progress, those things that come up and get in the way and to make sure the best information gets on the table. Address concerns proactively, prevent negative impacts and that the conversation is open and transparent and proactive is the watch-word.”

His job is to work closely with Administration and make sure all requests for information are there and up to speed and position Council for the best group decision.

“As mayor, I work for everybody else. I work for Administration. I work for Council, and I work for the Community.” For Administration we have a huge pool of talented people and they have a lot of great advice and a lot of ways and they bring things forward and the number one goal for the Mayor is to listen, listen and listen some more. You have to consider the viewpoints of staff as much as possible, they are the ones ultimately to take and implement the policies and decision of Council, and so you have to listen very closely to the advice that is presented. As far as working for Council I get my marching orders from Council, there is a strategic plan in place. I can do nothing alone, so the key there is to just work together to get council in the best position possible to make the best decision. Ultimately that is our number one goal, in fact that is all we do, is to make decisions.

As far as working for the community I think it is important not to silo out in terms of getting tunnel vision and corporate vision. I think what is really important is that we need to reach out, need to talk with the various partners in the community and make it a truly community cooperative endeavour, and we need to do that. That is part of my role to reach out to other community groups and organizations and integrate as much as possible some of those ideas into the plans.

Mission: Maintain Momentum

Turner said the first out of the gate was to maintain momentum. The previous Council had recommended an interim budget and this allowed time for orientation and preparation for the budget.
The rapid orientation to bring the four new Councillors up to speed and active as quickly as possible and establish a team culture was his mission and to keep that momentum going.

Turner spoke of the early strategic plan and the new council and the new direction implemented as soon as possible as it was important before going into budget and to guide administration in preparing business plans and establish a process for implementation.

The open environment with a wide variety of ideas brought to the table included a Strategy Place in place and approved 23 January. Turner said the plan is short and quick with clear goals and they plan to review it every three months and priorities confirmed as things can change quickly.

Turner spoke of the budget being completed and it being a tough budget with some tough choices and reduced from a proposed 6% to .07%.

Mission: Engage

Turner spoke of the Mission to engage and to provide a steady and consistent new process for moving forward and to set a sustainable pace for the organization and to create a vehicle for moving forward with individual initiatives. He said the toughest part of the learning role of Councillors is in knowing how to move ideas forward.

Results to Date-Budget 2018- Discussions & Economic Development
Turner discussed the budget and the significant discussions with the Library Board and the need to establish to align goals over a long term.

There is the need to make some innovative changes to reduce the cost of plan long-term or discussions on the split mill rates. A long-term plan has been to maintain rates the same to encourage commercial development.

Economic development briefly covered the Coal Creek Area Structure Plan adopted for approximately 37 acres of commercial/light industrial property. The land still needs to be serviced by the developer and initial phases zoned accordingly. The development on the east side of 100 St. is still likely a few years away.

The commercial land becoming available on the West side of 100 St between the railroad tracks and the residence was briefly covered, which was sped up by the development of the school site.

The Regional Recreation Facility is under construction and looking at opening up approx. May 2019.

Challenges/Opportunities

Turner spoke of the 2019 budget and the new Regional Recreation facility with operational costs to be determined, operational costs and that future phases will depend on good debenture management and additional funding sources.

Partnerships with Sturgeon County, taking major steps forward with the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board and the Regional Services Plan and how the EMRB will impact the form of municipal government in the area.

Turner said amendments are underway for the Land Use Bylaw for Cannabis and this should be on the agenda for 13 and 20 March.

Turner emphasised relationship and the ultimate goal to activate the by better aligning goals of Council and goals of key community stakeholders, such as the Chamber of Commerce and Community groups and organizations. “The more we partner the more we learn the more collaboration the more the opportunity to discover common goals and ultimately will leverage resources of the entire community. For the Chamber this means open door to identify areas of common goals and partner to support, attract and retention of businesses in Morinville. This could include joint training, development seminars, shop local campaigns and more.”

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