Jim Webster: What is city’s vision?
July 10, 2015
My wife and I raised our family in the city of Mississauga in Canada during a period of about 25 years. Mississauga had a city council led by the same woman mayor continuously for 36 years. Yes, she was re-elected every four years and remained very popular. She retired last year from office at the age of 93.
Upon reflection, I can say with a high degree of certainty that the Mississauga mayor through all those years consistently stood for:
■ growth with no city debt;
■ development of an attractive downtown core;
■ responsible recycling and waste management;
■ appropriate green park space and recreation;
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■ a community-oriented police force;
■ reasonable property taxes; and,
■ affordable public transit.
Since my wife and I moved to Steamboat six years ago to live here full time, I have had a hard time discerning what principles the city of Steamboat and its City Council use as the guide to focus their resources and to make decisions. Part of that problem relates to the fact that we do not have a mayor or a city leader who consistently tells us what the priorities are and what policies are important or not important. We are ruled by a committee of elected officials with no individual accountability.
City Council's latest decision to (finally) fund basic improvements on Yampa and Oak Streets is, hopefully, the council's recognition that the downtown core is vital to the health and welfare of all city residents and visitors. This seems obvious to me, but sometimes, I get the impression the city takes action somewhat randomly based on what is cheapest, easiest or which special interest group makes the most noise. We all know years of discussion were wasted on the new police station issue until council members had the common sense to convene a group of knowledgeable residents to impartially look at all of the alternatives and select the obvious one: sharing space with the county police force.
I am not here to bash City Council but to applaud them for recognizing that improving the city core is a key priority that will impact the residents more directly than a new police station. As the saying goes: We can have anything we want, but we cannot have everything we want.
I remain hopeful that City Council will take up some of the other principles above that were important to the Mississauga mayor. And, perhaps they will find someone to stand up and give us their vision for the city. If not, the now-94-year-old former Mississauga mayor might be available to communicate her vision for the future of Steamboat Springs.