Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle delivers 2023 State of the City address

After three years of delivering the State of the City address in a virtual format, Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle delivered the city’s 2023 State of the City in person Monday evening at the Firstenburg Community Center.

The address was delivered in person for the first time in three years and also included a Council Community Forum

Ken Vance, editor
Clark County Today

After three years of delivering the State of the City address in a virtual format, Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle delivered the city’s 2023 State of the City in person Monday evening at the Firstenburg Community Center.

The event, themed “Big Picture Questions,’’ also included a Council Community Forum designed to provide a discussion on the future of Vancouver through the lens of the city’s upcoming Comprehensive Plan. The event was also accompanied by the release of the city’s online annual report, which includes additional details on city budgets and accomplishments over the past year. 

The State of the City address will be available for on-demand viewing on Clark/Vancouver Television (CVTV) channel 23 and HD 323, on the city’s Facebook and YouTube pages starting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29.

“The last two years seemed insurmountable at times but the resilience and ingenuity of city staff to break through any challenge never ceases to impress me,’’ Mayor McEnerny-Ogle said in her opening remarks. “Before we talk about the future, let’s take a quick look at some of our accomplishments and work from 2022. It was quite the year, and it is impossible to fit everything in, so we focused on transformative accomplishments and projects. 

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle (at podium) addresses those in attendance Monday at the city of Vancouver's 2023 State of the City address. Photo courtesy city of Vancouver
Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle (at podium) addresses those in attendance Monday at the city of Vancouver’s 2023 State of the City address. Photo courtesy city of Vancouver

“Last year, when I said the state of our city was strong, I meant it,’’ McEnerny-Ogle said. “I do want to say though, being strong doesn’t mean we didn’t have our share of challenges. We did, but we faced them with determination, resilience, and creativity. That creativity is getting us noticed. And so is our resolve to positively shape our future.’’

The mayor claimed that “Vancouver is being held up as an example for how we’ve come together as a community (to) address homelessness and the affordable housing crisis. Over the last year, cities, counties and even our governor has visited us to learn from us. Of course, one of the most important ways we’re able to do this (is) with the support of our community.’’

McEnerny-Ogle recognized voters who recently approved the city’s affordable housing levy, which she stated will raise $10 million annually for 10 years.

“This will allow us to assist some of the most vulnerable in our community by helping 2,500 households with rent assistance and housing services, helping 150 households with home ownership, preserving, or constructing 2,400 affordable units, and supporting 550 shelter beds over the life of the levy,’’ McEnerny-Ogle said.

Development around the city

The mayor also spoke of ways the city is continuing to assist in development of the Vancouver Waterfront, downtown Vancouver and other areas around the city.

“We are investing in downtown through the Waterfront Gateway Project and the Main Street Promise Project, supporting small businesses working to recover from the pandemic, investing in placemaking and safety improvements on key connectors, and adding affordable housing,’’ she stated. “We’re investing our ARPA dollars in improvements to our Main Street and along the Fourth Plain Corridor. We are investing in Central Vancouver through the Heights District redevelopment. In 2022, the Council approved the master plan and development agreement for the Vancouver Innovation Center in east Vancouver. The VIC will re-imagine 179 acres of a former industrial property into a 20-minute neighborhood with dense housing, a forested city park, high tech employers, a middle school, restaurants, and services, with multi-modal trails throughout. It could be a model for how a wide variety of uses can work well together on the same site.’’

McEnerny-Ogle also spoke of a focus “on building a safer, more resilient and climate-smart transportation system. We are retrofitting our roads to make them safe for everyone, regardless of age, ability, or how they choose to travel.’’

Other plans for the calendar year 2023 include “reforms to the Business License Fee (that) will go into effect in April, in addition to reducing the fee burden on the smallest businesses in Vancouver it will fund increased investment in increased police services, new roads, economic development and job creation programs. It will also allow us to invest in Parks, this spring we’re starting work on our playground replacement program. Through increased funding in the recent biennial budget, Van Fleet and Columbia Lancaster neighborhood parks will receive new playgrounds this year and planning will begin for playground replacements at Homestead Neighborhood Park and Marine Community Park in 2024. These four playground replacements mark the beginning of a significant long-term strategy that seeks to replace more than 20 aging playgrounds over the next decade through the Business License Surcharge.’’

Police body-worn camera program

McEnerny-Ogle also stated the expected benefits of the city’s police body-worn camera program launched last month with equipment being issued to all sworn personnel. 

“The transparency and accountability this program will bring is invaluable for our community,’’ the mayor stated. “In April with our partners Clark County District Court, Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program, Council for the Homeless, Columbia River Mental Health, Sea-Mar, Ideal Options, Washington Department of Social and Health Services, Clark County Veterans Assistance Center, and Recovery Café we are launching a Community Court to tackle 10 offenses that will help address quality of life concerns raised in Vancouver. The Community Court will hold participants accountable while helping them overcome challenges that contribute to continued involvement in the criminal justice system.’’

The Comprehensive Plan

McEnerny-Ogle also address the city’s Comprehensive Plan, called “Our Vancouver.’’

“It will reflect our shared direction for the future of Vancouver,’’ she stated. “When completed, ‘Our Vancouver’ will provide us with a long-term vision for managing growth and development. But more importantly ‘Our Vancouver’ will determine how the community will look, feel, and function, from land-use, development, and infrastructure to housing, equity and opportunity, and climate and the environment. 

“As we start this work, we need to consider that what got us to this point will not necessarily work to address the change and challenges facing our community,’’ she added. “That doesn’t mean that the state of our city isn’t strong or what we have done in the past was ineffective; on the contrary, it has made us the vibrant city we are right now; but we must also continue to evolve to successfully meet the amount of change we’re facing. We have new challenges, there are no small issues. As I said at the start, they are the ‘big picture questions’ we need to answer to strengthen Vancouver for the future and we need your help. Together, we make the state of our city strong, not just for us but for the next generation.’’

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1 Comment

  1. blank

    Is Mayor Anne whistling as she walks by the cemetery?

    Or is it “if you tell a lie often enough, and long enough, then people will believe it”?

    Sorry, Anne, but I for one do not share your all-is-great-in-Vancouver philosophy.

    Skyrocketing taxes
    Streets in disrepair everywhere you go except waterfront and much of east-end
    Trash on/alongside streets
    Curb signs proliferate – “roof cleaning” etc.
    City officials taking boondoggle trip to Japan
    Overpaid city officials, esp. city mgr.
    Ever-increasing school taxes without accountability such as test-score improvement
    Property crimes out of control
    Homelessness – the city can’t seem to throw enough money at it, yet sees little results

    Time for new city leadership, starting with the Mayor!


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