Town of Orangeville continuing with strategic priorities

December 10, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Orangeville Council will be continuing with the strategic priorities they set out in 2019, following a meeting on Monday where they provided that direction to Town staff.

The top strategic priorities that are being carried forward include financial asset management and sustainability, budget planning, taxation, enhancing communications, customer service, online services, and safe/healthy communities.

Strategic priorities of medium importance include increased tourism, environmental sustainability initiatives, implementing the cultural plan, recreation program review, boosting accessibility/inclusivity, and attracting or retaining businesses and investments.

COVID-19 was the number one, new priority for Orangeville Council in 2020.

“When COVID came in, we could not have people in our offices, surely a much reduced number, so there was a lot of work that had to go into remote working, increasing online services and facilitation of electronic meetings for Council and committees,” said Ed Brennan, Town of Orangeville CAO.

“Much work has been accomplished in 2020, not withstanding the challenges imposed upon us by the pandemic.”

Some of the big changes in 2020 include the Orangeville Police Service transitioning to OPP in October.

For transit, a task force was formed early in the year and the Town is now working on implementing the recommendations set out in its Transit Optimization Study.

A full slate of roadwork was completed in 2020, including reconstructions of Little York Street and the southern most section of Faulkner Street. As well, a considerable amount of repaving took place at the north end of First Street

Looking ahead, a number of projects design work is underway and ready to go for the 2021 construction season. This includes Centennial Road reconstruction, Broadway Boulevard brick replacement, and works to the Hansen Boulevard Bridge.

In 2020 a total of 35 projects for Town facilities and parks was completed, including the transformation and expansion of Harvey Curry Park. Another key project was the Broadway median landscape and lighting upgrades, as well as renovating the OPS station to be suitable for the OPP.

In terms of economic development, a $56 million investment was made by Wightman Communications Ltd. to bring high speed internet to Orangeville in June of this year.

The 2020 Tourism Strategy and Action Plan has also been developed and the Town’s Four Seasons Visitor Guide with Theatre Orangeville is now complete. Eight public art pieces for the Town were also created in 2020, bringing the total to over 85. There are four new murals being featured at the Alder Recreation Centre.

The Digital Main Street program was launched to support downtown businesses in creating an online presence after the COVID-19 pandemic struck Orangeville, offering up to $2,500 in grants to individual businesses. This was supported by an economic development grant of $40,000.

Initial works to assess the 82-90 Broadway project are ongoing, with an extensive report by consultants now complete.

Construction is moving ahead for a new fire station and the Town’s Fire Master Plan is nearing completion.

The Orangeville Library was closed for a short period of time because of COVID-19, but has been well sustained through the pandemic, with lots of positive feedback.

“We’re seeing a huge increase in our virtual, online registration and we’re also seeing a lot of activity from our staff that’s running virtual story time, programming, and that kind of thing, which is quite exciting for the community,” said Ray Osmond, General Manager of Community Services.

Programs have been launched for aquatics, fitness, swim team, hockey, and figure skating.

Meanwhile, the Town’s concert series at Rotary Park through the summer was a big success, along with its Drive-in Movie Nights and summer youth series, according to Osmond.

Mitigation of assessment-based loss from residents who challenge their property assessment was in focus during 2020 as well. So far the Town’s treasury has been able to mitigate more than $1 billion worth of at risk assessment value, resulting in $300,000 in tax revenue.

“In parallel, the treasurer has taken a number of steps with her team to move the budget towards a more performance based budget, which is in line with the CAOs longer term vision and has put together new templates and approaches in order to change the way that we bring that forward,” said Adrea McKinny, General Manager of Corporate Services.

Improving communications with residents was a top priority for 2020 and enhancements were made in the fall, with the Town of Orangeville’s mobile app and the “Report a Problem” feature now available on its website.

The number of news releases circulated by the Town increased by more than 50 per cent this year, however, part of the increase can be attributed to announcements concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Town engaged in increased advertising, grew its social media accounts, and enhanced video production to boost tourism and engage residents.

A total of 28 workshops/educational events were delivered to almost 750 entrepreneurs virtually through the Town this year.

Going forward the Town is preparing its Community Improvement Plan and achieving the deadlines set out by the Province for asset management.

Stopping the spread of COVID-19 and protecting residents will also continue to be in focus for the Town of Orangeville.

“We’re not over it yet, probably have a long way to go but it’s great to see this Council working together, we may not always agree but I think we’re working together for the benefit of the taxpayer,” said Deputy Mayor, Andy Macintosh.

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