Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Ad Hoc Planning or Master Planning?

A city's OCP is a 30,000 ft view that lays out, in broad strokes, how the city is intended to grow or develop. It identifies land use and density. Master Plans are ground-level views that lay out in detail how that OCP will be executed. From water and sewer to transit, transportation, and parks, these plans prioritize action plans based on a number of factors, including needs, wants, and costs. 

The Parks, Recreation, and Culture Master Plan is a good example. Through extensive public engagement at two stages in the 4-stage process, staff learned what was important to the residents of Abbotsford, and the final draft reflected that to a great extent. Priorities were set accordingly, but not overlooking ongoing maintenance, population growth demands, and certainly financial feasibility. Priorities were organized into "Short", "Medium", and "Long-Term" action plans.

The master plan includes a 25-year financial plan that charts a path that can deliver an affordable plan that does not become a financial burden for taxpayers. As mentioned in the plans, if at any time grant funds become available, certain projects may be advanced more quickly. It must also be noted that master plans are always open for review and revision.

In the same way, each of the other eight master plans have been designed to facilitate more certainty and stability in how the city manages the financial and physical resources for its residents.

When candidates promise that upon election, they will deliver certain capital projects or programs, you need to ask them if and how it fits in the Master Plan, and how they propose to finance it. With respect to Parks, Recreation, and Culture, they also need to be asked how they will defend their decision before the public, whose input has greatly determined the priorities as set out in the master plan. And if they are willing to do this with one of the master plans, will they also apply that to the other eight? 

Will it be Ad Hoc Planning or Master Planning?

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