Every year, the City must adopt, by bylaw, a five-year financial plan by May 15th as per the Community Charter. As we move through this process to prepare the financial plan, which includes the capital and operating programs and how they are funded, we will be engaging with the community in a variety of ways. In order to improve on the way we inform and solicit feedback, we are offering a combination of in-person engagement, including council meetings, open houses, and a workshop, as well as an online survey.
Learn more about the Budget 2020 process by reviewing the open house discussion boards.
What We Heard - Summary of Engagement Input to Date
What We Heard: Budget Themes
1. Desire for more information
Many participants identified a need for more information to understand the budget, how projects are prioritized, the decision-making process/criteria, and more. In terms of capital projects identified as supporting the Seven Bold Steps to address the climate emergency, participants want to understand how projects will impact greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and what is included in the cost-benefit analysis (for example, does it include environmental impacts of disposal of old facilities/equipment that is being replaced?). Participants also want to understand how the capital budget affects taxes.
2. Feedback regarding the reserves and debt levels were varied and mixed
Staff heard a mix of feedback about spending levels overall, and the planned increase in debt and reduction in reserves that are outlined in the draft 2020-2024 capital budget. Some participants expressed discomfort with increased spending, increased debt and decreased reserves. There were requests to reduce spending, not increase taxes and not burden future generations with high debt. However, others expressed general support for the capital plan projects and spending levels, and were satisfied with the projected debt and reserves levels.
3. Engagement shows support for climate action steps
Overall, participants were broadly in support of the Seven Bold Steps for Climate Action. In the online survey, 70% or more of respondents said that each the bold steps support the City’s climate emergency response – with the exception of Bold Step #6, Carbon Free Homes and Buildings, for which 60% agree that it supports the City’s response. The majority of participants (63%-76%) also rated each of the bold steps as important or very important. When asked to identify any additional climate action measures, a key theme was waste reduction and recycling efforts – with a particular focus on the City’s recycling depot.
4. Areas to not prioritize
While there was a high level of overall support for most of the capital projects outlined in the draft budget, some items were identified as lower priority, such as less spending on infrastructure and other projects aimed at single occupant vehicle driving, changing the City’s practice with fleet vehicles, and City photocopier replacement.
5. Lack of consensus
It is important to note that while trends and themes were identified in the engagement feedback, it is evident that there is a lack of consensus on many priorities. For example, while there is broad support for the climate action steps, some participants expressed that the plan is not bold enough and more needs to be done. In contrast, a few participants questioned taking a climate lens to the budget at all or expressed a lack of belief in the City’s ability to affect climate change. Similarly, while the vast majority of participants expressed support for investing in sustainable and active transportation, while actively discouraging vehicle infrastructure, a few participants wanted more investment in road infrastructure to allow vehicles to move through the city.
What We Heard: Budget Priorities
1. Sustainable / Active Transportation
Engagement input showed enthusiastic support for investments in sustainable and active transportation, with a wide range of ideas and suggestions – including everything from cycling connectivity and pedestrian safety to more and improved transit and wayfinding. Participants expressed support for implementing the City’s Master Transportation Plan, and prioritizing safe travel to schools. Another theme here was to spread the funding to more transportation projects that can impact more people, rather than spending large amounts on small strips of greenways.
2. Robust Urban Forest & Quality People-Centered Public Realm
Investing in more tree canopy, green spaces and people-centered public spaces were also identified as top priorities. Participants want the City to maximize carbon sequestration efforts, protect biodiversity and invest in more parks. Meaningful reallocation of road space away from vehicles, and car-free streets, was another theme under this priority. A general theme here was support for projects that contribute to a healthy community and public safety.
3. Affordability & Livability: Housing, Childcare, Incentives, Economic Development
Affordability was one of the top priorities identified by participants as additional climate response measures. Projects related to reducing the cost of housing were generally supported, with a particular focus on multi-family projects. Participants also expressed support for any City measures to improving affordability of living in New Westminster. There was also general support for the Retail Strategy, which connects to economic development.
4. Renewable and Efficient Energy Systems & Opportunity Capitalization
Many participants expressed support for investments in electrical infrastructure, as well as diversifying energy systems by continuing to invest in solar and pursuing a district energy system in Sapperton.
5. Community Building: Engagement, Participation, Reconciliation, and Inclusion
Another priority area identified by participants was reconciliation, inclusion and engagement, which is one of the City’s established strategic priorities. Some participants wanted to see increased funding for reconciliation and engagement, and more robust efforts to reach community members who do not often participate. Participants also identified a need for education and engagement around what actions individuals can take to respond to the climate crisis as well as understand their accountabilities in City reconciliation initiatives.
6. Accountability: e-Gov, Metrics, and Evaluation
Connected to the overall theme of wanting more information, participants also want the City to continually report on how the climate emergency response is working – how much is being invested and what impact it is having. Many participants asked about established metrics for evaluating projects, and a common tool for this used across City departments. Participants also generally supported e-Gov initiatives outlined in the draft capital budget. Also related to this priority area was a suggestion the City should be actively leading the way in terms of climate response, and demonstrating how it is making changes – for example, with reducing employee car trips.
Click here to read the full February 3, 2020 engagement summary report.
Engagement Input to Date
December 11 Open House
January 9 Workshop Participant Sticky Notes
January 9 Workshop Table Discussion Notes
Online Survey Report
Council Delegations - December 9 and January 13
Staff began the budgeting process mid-year with the first iteration of the capital program and it became apparent that the City’s resources could not support it as reported in to Council in September. Looking for further direction, staff came back to Council in November with the proposed seven bold steps to address climate action as well as a budget framework based on those steps (Visit our climate emergency webpage). Under this guidance, staff prepared the proposed capital program which was informed by several factors:
Embedded in these capital programs are an array of spending decisions – some fixed, such as in-progress and almost completed construction projects, and some variable, such as planned, but not yet started initiatives. While initial capital project submissions contemplated for the proposed 2020 – 2024 Capital Program are important and have merit, the City does not have infinite resources – financial or staff – to complete all of them within this time period. Therefore, choices have been made to defer some projects beyond the five year planning cycle. As we move forward, we'll be deliberating with Council and the community on this capital program and will move into the operating programs in the new year.
How the 2020-2024 capital budget Looks
Proposed Capital Program by Strategic Priority
What’s happened so far
- Each department submitted capital projects based on approved plans.
- All projects were evaluated against City Council’s approved 2019 – 2022 Strategic Plan.
- All projects were then evaluated against the approved seven bold steps to address the climate emergency as per direction by the Climate Action Budgeting Framework.
Get Involved now
More engagement opportunities may be added as needs are identified.
- December 9, 2019
Council Meeting Open Delegation
7:00 pm at City Hall Council Chamber
- December 11, 2019
Open House (drop-in)
4:00 - 8:00 pm at Century House Fir Room
- January 9, 2020
Capital Program Workshop
6:00 - 9:00 pm at Anvil Centre Theatre
- December 18, 2019 - January 17, 2020
2020-2024 Budget Survey: Climate Emergency Bold Steps (now closed)
- January 13, 2020
Council Meeting Open Delegation
7:00 pm at City Hall Council Chamber
- February 24, 2020
Council Meeting Draft Presentation
6:00 pm at City Hall Council Chamber
- April 2020
Consolidation of Financial Plan and presentation to Council for approval
Related council reports
December 11, 2019 Open House Presentation Boards
Five-Year Financial Plan (2019 - 2023) Bylaw No. 8104, 2019
December 9, 2019 Item 23 Budget Process - Capital Program aligned by Council's Strategic Priorities
December 9, 2019 Item 10 Capital Budget Climate Action Memos - CAO Office
November 25, 2019 Item 7c Community Engagement in the 2020-2024 Budget Process and the City's Seven Bold Steps to Address the Climate Emergency
November 25, 2019 Item 7b Budget Process - Proposed 2020-2024 Capital Program
November 4, 2019 Item 22 User Fees and Rates Review
November 4, 2019 Item 10b 2020 Utility Rates
November 4, 2019 Item 10a 2020 Utility Rates Presentation
November 4, 2019 Item 9b 2020 Climate Action Budgeting Framework and Ten Year Carbon Targets - New Westminster's Seven Bold Steps
November 4, 2019 Item 9a Climate Action Budgeting Framework and Seven Bold Steps Presentation
November 4, 2019 Item 8a 2019-2022 Strategic Plan Presentation
September 30, 2019 Item 1 Direction for the 2020-2024 Capital Program
September 9, 2019 Item 32b 2019-2022 Strategic Plan
March 11, 2019 Item 26 Motion - Climate Action in the City of New Westminster