Council’s Role and Record – Planning and Development – 2

February 19, 2012

Jobs & the Economy

The report heading to committee week describes at a high level the scope of the administrative review underway:

For the most part, there are four City service areas that are usually involved in responding to private business investment opportunities.  They are Economic Development (through its business attraction, retention and coordination efforts), Planning Services (through the development of municipal planning policies and the processing of development applications), Building Services (through the processing of building permits) and Engineering Services (through the planning, design and construction of infrastructure).

Council has significantly different roles to play with respect to these service areas – responsibilities that are often misunderstood.

So let’s start with Economic Development in this post.

Council provides strategic direction to Economic Development through the Corporate Strategic Plan and Prosperity 2020 (see previous post for some more details). 

Council allocates financial resources to achieve our strategic economic development goals – for instance to support the programs of Economic Development (e.g. Grow Guelph) or to  develop new employment lands (e.g. Hanlon Creek Business Park and Guelph Innovation District). Council also has a role to oversee the performance of Economic Development in attracting jobs and new investment.

The Mayor and Council can also play an important role in business attraction and retention by meeting with businesses and attending business events to better understand their needs in a rapidly changing economy  and ensuring the organization provides excellent service in responding to business interests.  As Mayor I meet with many businesses, new and existing, to discuss their interest in investing in Guelph as well as speak frequently to business audiences about the strategic goals of the City.

Responding to private business investment opportunities is a complex and challenging process.  The Economic, Planning, Building and Engineering Joint Operational Review is focussed on getting this right.  The report Planning, Building, Engineering and Environment Committee receives next week reports on the improvements implemented to date and next steps  to better streamline the process. As this work proceeds, it is always important not to forget our core busines – city building:

“Land use planning means managing our land and resources. It helps our community to set goals about how it will grow and develop and to work out ways of reaching those goals while keeping important social, economic and environmental concerns in mind.  It balances the interests of individual property owners with the wider interests and objectives of the whole community. Good planning leads to orderly growth and the efficient provision of services.  It touches all of us and helps us to have the kind of community we want.”        Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

My next post in this series will attempt to simplify and describe the fairly complicated world managed by Planning Services (development of municipal planning policies and the processing of development applications), the different approval authorities involved and the different roles of Council (sometimes we are involved in decisions and sometimes we aren’t).

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About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

View all posts by Karen Farbridge

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