The next two years
Council’s game plan
As we approach the mid-point of our mandate, Council’s focus continues to be on adopting policies and programmes designed to ensure that Westmount is a city where people thrive, feel socially connected and feel safe and secure.
Residents want a city that is well run, with programmes and infrastructure that meets their needs and one that is ready to meet the challenges of climate change.
This overriding objective serves as our guide as we move forward with budget planning for 2024 and firm up our plans for the next two years.
As demonstrated by the orange cones that are visible in every corner of Westmount, fixing our infrastructure is at the top of our list of priorities and will remain there for many years to come. While we appreciate that this work is disruptive, the unfortunate reality is that we can no longer delay investing in our roads, water networks, hydro network, parks and municipal buildings such as our train station, Public Works facility and City Hall. Please note that our planning for 2024 projects is well underway and you will see that there is a shift to more sidewalk repair and repaving as well as road reconstruction.
I should also point out that we are in the process of developing a comprehensive asset management plan which will serve as a critical building block for our operating and capital works budgets.
Over the next two years we need to identify financial, staffing, environmental and technological strategies, and direction for Hydro Westmount. We will ensure there is sound management of Hydro Westmount to meet the challenges of updating the infrastructure and changing hydroelectric needs.
The revitalization of the South-East area
As part of the Special Planning Programme (SPP) process, we are launching a comprehensive review of options for the South-East area (Ste. Catherine to Dorchester and Atwater to Greene), which is a key entry point to our City. Our plan is to host in-depth public consultations with residents and stakeholders. Economic development of the retail areas, as well as working with the important institutions of the area, will be key to the redevelopment of this area.
Security and safety due to the challenges of the housing crisis, particularly in this part of Westmount, are a societal challenge. Westmount will continue to work closely with the SPVM, all levels of government and community groups to address this crisis.
Expanding our community sports and events
We are constantly reviewing and evaluating our programming to ensure we are effectively responding to the needs of our residents. With this in mind, we have established a partnership with Marianopolis College for playing fields, and are exploring other potential partnerships with schools and community organizations. Many residents continue to ask the City to build an indoor swimming pool and gym, and this will be part of the discussions during the SPP process.
Communication and citizen engagement
Our residents deserve to have the most detailed and robust communication possible from City Hall. To achieve this goal, we will be updating our online presence and introducing digital tools to ensure you are informed of critical information in a timely fashion. We will create opportunities for more resident consultation on budgets and capital works projects.
We are developing a “One Stop” solution for residents to streamline all services into a single portal. This will facilitate all interaction with the City for permits, licenses, facility cards, the payment of fees and taxes, and ways for citizens to report issues within the City.
Sustainability is at the heart of our decision making, from road design, to the vehicles we purchase, and our approach to water retention and the building of catch basins. Climate change is having a significant impact on our City and our planning needs to continue to address that. The management of our waste is a core service, and in confronting the climate crisis it is clear that we must do better. We need to transport less to landfills and increase our composting programmes; this will be done by changes to the frequency of garbage collection and improving composting and recycling rates in the City.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our operations and building safer pedestrian and bike friendly streets will help us reach our goal. Protecting the biodiversity in our parks and green spaces will continue to be a priority.
Safety and mobility
Like sustainability, safety and mobility are front and centre in our decision-making process. When we rebuild roads, for example, safety is always at the core of the design process, as we are often looking to introduce traffic calming measures. We are polling residents and schools to make our school zones better and safer. We are committed to a Vision Zero action plan to ensure that pedestrian safety is our guiding principle.
INVESTING IN OUR PEOPLE
As we confront a competitive labour market, our goal is to be an employer of choice. The appointment of Julie Mandeville as our new Director General is an important step in the right direction, as we are confident she has the experience and background required to lead our team at City Hall. With her help, we are focusing on recruitment, retention, and ensuring we have the right people in the right roles while providing our staff with the tools, technology and support they need to be successful.
As I stated at the outset, our goal is for Westmount to remain a vibrant and safe city from all vantage points. We are determined to move forward with a multi-faceted plan that addresses our fiscal, physical, architectural, environmental and social challenges.
As we move forward, your considerate input will be greatly appreciated.
We encourage all Westmounters to provide us with feedback by taking part in our public consultations, responding to our surveys, attending Council meetings or reaching out to their local Councillor. We need to hear from you to ensure we are meeting your needs.