Bid approved for three major studies

ERIN – The town will spend $113,575 for the creation of a Strategic Plan, a Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan and an Economic Development Strategy.

At a special meeting on Dec. 5, council approved a joint bid by Global Attraction Investment Group and Sierra Planning and Management.

Three bids were reviewed by a panel of four staff, and a consensus was reached on the proposal that “could deliver on all three strategies for us,” said CAO Nathan Hyde. The town will “realize some synergies” by staging the studies together, he said.

“We’re gaining something pretty valuable by having one vendor – with continuity and integration of the plans into an overall strategy,” said councillor John Brennan.

“I know there’s a trend towards not publishing the competing bids, but I think in the interests of making sure that the public is comfortable with how we’re spending money, having a short report that details at least, if nothing else, the dollar amounts for the other competing bids would be a good thing going forward.”

Hyde’s report has no details on competing bids received on the request for proposal (RFP) issued Oct. 15, but after Brennan’s comment, he said the other bids were $148,639 and $52,750.

“Identifying those companies puts us into some difficult waters,” said Hyde.

In response to concerns raised by members of the town’s environmental committee, Brennan also asked about climate change issues.

“Climate change has to be an integral part of that plan, otherwise we’ll strategize to not exist,” he said.

Hyde said the process should not be “anchored in a special interest,” but that climate change issues can be part of it. “Robust public consultation is built into all of this,” said Hyde.

The town already has a Corporate Strategic Plan, approved in 2014, but it focuses on internal staff organization and activities.

That plan has a section on environmental stewardship, promoting protection of the town’s natural features and encouraging eco-tourism.

Council has discussed the need to build new infrastructure to  a higher standard, to withstand intense storms caused by climate change.

The new strategic plan aims to outline how to accomplish specific goals for the community. It will set out a vision, mission and priorities for the next 10 years, according to the RFP.

The recreation master plan will align with the strategic plan, studying parks, facilities and programming.

The economic development strategy will also be integrated with the strategic plan, looking at “how to best attract and retain business in the town and what industries and sectors to target.”