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This article was published 16/5/2019 (382 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In his first State of the City address in the new term of council, Mayor Rick Chrest previewed the priorities for the next four years, including economic development, revitalizing downtown and fiscal sustainability.
Chrest laid out the main focuses from council’s strategic planning sessions at the end of the April to an audience at a Brandon Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
The first priority is economic development, and Chrest said council would like to "amp up" support to Economic Development Brandon. Councillors want to let the organization focus "more purely" on its stated objective.
"We would like to ensure economic development efforts are co-ordinated, community, collaborative initiatives involving many stakeholders in a true team Brandon approach.
"We will also co-ordinate with both senior levels of government and dovetail into the province’s new strategy and especially target strategic industrial growth, diverse jobs and innovation."
Brandon also has a new recreation master plan, which Chrest said is a "blueprint" for improving quality of life in the city for decades to come.
"The plan is bold and ambitious, but we will find a responsible and affordable means of phasing in new facilities over time with the stated objective of starting immediately and beginning to knock some of these off the list one by one."
Infrastructure maintenance and renewal will also be a priority over this term of council, Chrest said. This will include all areas of infrastructure, including streets, sidewalks, back lanes, sewers and the $100-million project to renew the city’s water treatment plant.
Council also paid attention to social issues like addictions and mental health during strategic planning. The goal is to help increase community safety and reduce crime rates through collaboration with both the provincial and federal governments.
The fifth priority Chrest laid out is downtown resurgence — an ongoing project for the city.
"We remain optimistic about the prospects for Brandon University’s downtown development project, which would be a significant game-changer as well as other developments both large and small, which we anticipated over the next several years."
He also touted the fact that tax increases in Brandon are significantly lower than in other Manitoba municipalities, including Winnipeg. The total property tax increase over the last five years has been 3.25 per cent in total, below the overall inflation rate of 8.5 per cent.
"Whether we like it or not, tax control and fiscal prudence is probably a forever job for a responsible city council. … We are constantly searching for new revenue sources to decrease our reliance on purely properly taxes, with a view to financial sustainability at all times."
On top of the six stated priorities for council, there are two overarching themes that will help guide decision-making at city hall over the next four years: being bold and innovative and attention to the environment and climate change. Chrest said these two priorities will play into the "vast balance" of the work city’s future work.
"We wish to instil components of bold and innovative thinking into as much of our work as possible and to promote a culture that considers the environment and climate change in everything we do."
The full list of strategic priorities and the city’s next strategic plan is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
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