Sidney approves new Strategic Plan
The Town of Sidney has approved their updated Strategic Plan for the next three years.
The town's current 2019-2022 Strategic Plan was updated during an all-day strategic planning session in October, and builds upon past work while also taking into consideration input from the community.
Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith says his municipality is taking a holistic approach when it comes to planning for the future, as the more than 12,000 person town grapples with ways to address a variety of areas. Several strategic priorities were either added or recognized as a key area of focus, including affordable housing with an intention to implement key recommendations from the recently completed Housing Needs Assessment.
McNeil-Smith says affordable housing is one of the municipalities biggest concerns, though he adds that the town faces a unique set of challenges as forty per cent of Sidney's population is 65 or older.
"Our average age is fifty-eight," said the Mayor of Sidney. "Contrast that with the Capital Regional District which is at twenty-one per cent, or in the province where it's seventeen per cent."
While Sidney's population continues to grow by less than ten people a year, McNeil-Smith insists the region is getting busier.
"Because we have the airport and the Swartz Bay ferries very close to us, we're becoming much busier faster than our population growth alone."
Each year, Council meets with senior Town staff to review the current Strategic Plan, in order to make any necessary amendments or additions. Related initiatives set out in the current plan include providing a permissive tax exemption to Shoreline Medical, considering of a smoking ban in Sidney's downtown core and emergency preparedness management.
McNeil-Smith adds that the town's updated plan is much about finding a balance.
"People are concerned about our parks, people are concerned about our urban forest," said McNeil-Smith. "There's concern for environmentally sensitive areas and about sea level rise."
One of the main action items of the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan is a comprehensive review and update of the town's Official Community Plan.