Public feedback provided for Municipal Strategic Plan
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Approximately 30 members of the public provided feedback to Capital Park Consulting, who is developing a new Strategic Plan for the Municipality of Sioux Lookout, during a Town Hall-style public meeting on Nov. 18.
Tim Hore, President of Capital Park Consulting, ran the public meeting at the Sunset Inn and Suites conference room. The meeting was part of a public consultation initiative to assist in developing a new Strategic Plan for the Municipality.
“My company does management consulting. We’re based in Ottawa. Increasingly, over the last four or five years, we’ve been doing a lot of strategic planning for various sectors. Municipal government has been a growing thing for us. We’ve been doing more and more of these. There are always a lot of similarities although, as I was saying to one of the focus groups this afternoon, Sioux Lookout is pretty unique. It calls itself, and in fact is, the Hub of the North, and that comes with a unique set of opportunities and challenges,” Hore said during the meeting.
Hore asked community members in attendance a series of questions in order to hear what people think Sioux Lookout’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are.
Hore asked community members, “What are Sioux Lookout’s greatest and most important strengths from your perspective?”
Answers from the public included the people who make up the community, the tourism industry, land, the bodies of water, and the airport.
When asked about the Municipality’s key weaknesses, the publics’ answers included lack of affordable housing, municipal debt, high residential taxes, infrastructure deficit, lack of workforce, and high policing costs.
When asked what Sioux Lookout can do to enhance or improve the standard of living for its residents, the public’s answers included lowering taxes, ensuring infrastructure is in place, investing back in to the community, and beautifying Front Street.
Those in attendance were asked what are the most important issues and challenges the community needs to address, and their answers included housing, lack of workforce, and infrastructure deficit.
Along with hosting a public consultation meeting, Hore received a variety of input from stakeholder groups during focus group sessions.
“Focus group sessions have been held on Monday and Tuesday, November 18th and 19th. The following sectors/stakeholders have been involved in these focus group sessions, based on Council’s direction regarding consultation:
• Education sector
• Health sector
• Transportation sector
• Social & Mental Health sector
• Government Agencies and Services
• Business partners
• Tourism partners
• First Nations Agencies/Organization
• Youth and Youth-serving organizations,” said Michelle Larose, CAO.
Larose said Strategic Planning isn’t required, but it’s considered a leading practice in the sector. She said the current strategic planning efforts have featured more community engagement then years past.
“The process is entirely at the discretion of each municipality, and it is not a mandatory initiative, but is considered a leading practice in the sector. The process used for the last Strategic Plan had less community engagement, but this Council feels that citizen engagement is key to a successful Plan,” she said.
Larose shared the timeline for the current Strategic Planning process is as follows:
• “May 15, 2019 – Council authorized the issuance of a Request for Proposals to obtain a consultant to assist with the development of a new Strategic Plan for the Municipality
• July 17, 2019 – Council awards contract to Capital Park Consulting for the development of a new Strategic Plan (during the intervening two months, the RFP was issued, responses were analyzed/evaluated by staff and a recommendation was prepared for Council)
• August-September 2019 – Capital Park Consulting undertook review and analysis of key Municipal documents (plans, studies, reports, etc.) to get a clear understanding of the Municipality’s current position and where we have come the last number of years.
• October 2019 – Capital Park Consulting met with Council and staff (separately) to discuss initial thoughts and priorities for the new Strategic Plan, and to determine a consultation plan to get community input.
• November – December 2019 – community consultation is in progress (including the survey)
• January 2020 – Capital Park Consulting will meet with Council to provide an overview of the public input and Council will provide direction on contents (strategic priorities, goals, etc.) for the new Strategic Plan. Following this, a Draft Strategic Plan will be developed and presented to Council, likely in February.”
The Municipality is providing community members with an additional opportunity to provide feedback through a survey, which is available both online and at Municipal Office Customer Service Desk.
The survey will be open through Dec. 10.
The online version is accessible at www.surveymonkey.com/r/FL9VCP8.