Chestermere city council directed staff to work with the Mayor on a strategy to bring the community together at the Dec. 4 council meeting.
“As a new council, we want to bring this community together,” said Chestermere’s Mayor Marshall Chalmers.
The plan is to rebuild the trust, connection and community between city hall and the residents of Chestermere that has been reduced in recent years as the city has struggled with a rising cost of living and controversy surrounding Chestermere Utilities Inc.
The decision to ask staff to work with the Mayor to take a second look at the strategy came after council balked at the price tag associated with the plan that administration presented at the meeting.
“We directed administration a couple of weeks ago…to come back with a report regarding how they thought we could come up with some strategies to bring this community together as one and have… a positive…move forward,” said Chalmers.
In the proposed strategy, city staff asked for a budget of $60,000 with $25,000 to be spent on a community satisfaction survey and the remainder to be used for other strategies such as advertising, marketing materials, and events.
Chalmers said that while council loves the strategy, “we’re just going to try to find a way to achieve the same thing without utilizing those kinds of dollars.”
He said that the question now is, “what strategies can we bring together to achieve that.”
The proposed strategy is based on what has been a successful organizational culture initiative used internally at city hall called Create Amazing.
“Staff here have actually won…an award on this initiative,” said Chalmers.
“What we were thinking is maybe we’ll move that from here out into the community now,” he said.
The initiative has been in place at city hall since 2016 and is based around the vision statement of, “the city is an amazing place to work that creates incredible results.”
While some of the strategy will change as the program is adjusted to fit life in Chestermere, Chalmers likes the idea of bringing out the amazing in Chestermere.
“This is about working with the community and coming up with a positive strategy to bring the community together and move forward,” he said.
While he asked that his name be specifically included in the motion asking staff to review the strategy, Chalmers said that the strategy needs to be about engaging the community.
“It’s about engaging the community and seeing what their thoughts are and narrowing it down,” he said.
He believes that one key element in finding the right strategy will come from the recently approved council community engagement policy.
“I think that’s something that we can look at,” he said, “how can we use that new policy to achieve what we’re trying to achieve here.”
One thing that he said he and the rest of council do know the community want is relief on their tax bills and that spending $60,000 on the Amazing Chestermere strategy doesn’t help bring relief there.
“We are committed to bringing the 2018 budget back up and trying to find some savings,” said Chalmers, “and I think we can.”
Mayor Chalmers said that he doesn’t have a number in mind as to what would be an acceptable cost for the Amazing Chestermere or similar initiative.
“It’s about okay we still want to achieve this how can we do it without the kind of money being put in front of us,” he said.
“If there’s a request later on for some funding, well we’ll take a look at it but right now we want to try and find ways to move forward without committing to $65 000,” said Chalmers.