Greetings! I am pleased to once again share with you an update on what’s happening at City Hall and some of the initiatives I am bringing forward as your Mayor. Although it has been just over a month since my last newsletter, so much has happened for our great city as we have now begun the countdown to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Now that our Olympiad has officially started, it is time for all of us to focus on the question: “What kind of city do we want the world to find when they arrive in 2010?” I challenge everyone to think about how you can participate - personally or through your business or community organization - in helping to prepare Vancouver for hosting the Games and to create lasting legacies throughout our city.
One of the immediate challenges facing City Council is the difficult decision-making around our operational budget. The City is legally required to balance the budget; we cannot run a deficit. This year is particularly difficult in that we face a significant shortfall. If we were to freeze taxes, it would mean cutting back services to our citizens by at least $29 million. And that does not even take into account a number of new spending items that are up for review.
Despite recent media reports that suggested Council has already made decisions related to the budget, no reductions were made to any programs or services. Budget adjustments will be done in April, with Council voting on a preliminary budget April 6, and the final budget on April 20.
In addition to achieving fiscal balance, I am encouraging Council to take a balanced approach with this budget. It is vitally important that we protect the services and programs that citizens have come to expect, and that will help us to maintain our quality of life. At the same time, we need to keep tax increases to a reasonable level.
As part of Council’s decision-making process, we have heard from hundreds of Vancouver residents and businesses through public meetings, surveys and polling. I want to thank everyone who took the time to give us your thoughts and opinions. This feedback has been tremendously valuable as Council prepares for the tough decisions ahead.
I will be sharing more thoughts on the 2006 Budget in a follow-up newsletter after the preliminary vote on April 6. In the meantime, I invite you to provide your feedback about this or any other civic issue, by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling my office at 604-873-7621.
Mayor Sam Sullivan
The Triple R Review, an initiative to improve the ways in which citizens provide input to City Council, is well underway with a full report expected to go to Council in June. Recently, former City Councillor May Brown was appointed as Chair of the Triple R Committee. As the review proceeds, all of the city’s advisory committees have been functioning normally.
The Mayor and Council have heard from hundreds of residents and businesses as part of the public consultation process in preparation for the budget. Here are a few interesting facts:
The last Wednesday of every month, the Mayor is setting aside hours in his day where citizens can come in for a brief one-on-one meeting to discuss their ideas and concerns. This was a tradition established by former Mayor Philip Owen, and Mayor Sullivan is pleased to re-introduce the program. The first Citizens Day will take place May 31, then on June 28 and July 26. If you would like to request a meeting with the Mayor, please send an email to email@example.com or send a letter marked “Citizens’ Day Request” to:
Third Floor, City Hall
453 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4
In your request, please include your name, address and telephone number, along with the topic you would like to discuss with the Mayor. While he will make every effort to meet with everyone who requests a meeting, the number of appointments is limited due to the Mayor’s busy schedule.
The Mayor, along with Councillors BC Lee and Heather Deal, travelled to Calgary on March 3rd to tour the city's 3-1-1 Communication Centre and to meet with Mayor Dave Bronconnier. That followed on the Mayor’s earlier visit to New York where he met with the officials responsible for that city’s 3-1-1 program. A 3-1-1 system allows citizens to call one central number to obtain information from city hall and access non-emergency civic services. Vancouver city staff are currently working on a report for Council that will outline the feasibility of introducing a 3-1-1 program here. Mayor Sullivan has been keen to bring 3-1-1 to Vancouver as it has the potential to greatly improve the city's ability to deliver timely and efficient services to citizens.
SNAPSHOTS FROM THE 2006 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC GAMES
Mayor Sullivan accepts the Olympic Flag on behalf of Vancouver, and all Canadians, at the 2006 Torino Winter Olympic Games.
The Mayor is welcomed at the airport upon returning home from the Olympic Games in February.
The Olympic Flag is raised at Vancouver City Hall on February 28th.
Mayor Sullivan congratulates Team Canada Captain, Todd Nicholson, after his team defeated Norway 3-0 to win the Paralympic Gold Medal in ice sledge hockey, on March 18.
Mayor Sullivan presents the Olympic and Paralympic Flags to Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed at a March 24 ceremony in Whistler Village.