Mapleton council embarks on strategic planning exercise

MAPLETON – Township council has embarked on a strategic planning process focusing on short, medium and long-term goals.

To assist with the process, the township has hired consultant Murray Clarke of Erebus Municipal Services Inc., states a report from Mapleton CAO Manny Baron presented at the Feb. 14  council meeting.

Clarke retired in 2017 after a career as a chief administrative officer (CAO) for municipalities in Ontario and British Columbia.

Baron’s report indicates that with a newly-elected council in place, the initiative has been launched “to create a new corporate and community strategic plan to guide council’s decision-making during the current term, and beyond.”

“We had a strategic plan last term of council. I think we’ve done fairly well,” Baron told council.

“I think we probably achieved 100% of the goals. And now it’s time to set some new goals.”

The report states the process will involve “extensive consultation and engagement” with council, the township’s senior leadership team, staff and key community stakeholders.

The latter includes sporting organizations, business associations, development and building sectors, cultural groups, agricultural interests, firefighters and others.

Efforts are underway to convene focus group sessions with representatives of community organizations and to roll out a process to seek input from the general public, the report notes.

“The goal is to work collectively to identify new opportunities and activities that may not currently be included in the township’s business and departmental plans, and to reinforce the importance of initiatives previously identified,” the report states.

The report indicates the aim of the process is to “create a meaningful, action-oriented plan that will express council’s vision for the community, and within that vision, identify a set of values to set the tone or an overall context for council’s deliberations.”

The process includes creating an inventory of current, planned and anticipated actions or initiatives “that reflect each of those values” and a general projection of timing and resources required to achieve each of the plan’s strategic directions.

Clarke, who said he oversaw a number of strategic planning exercises as a CAO, told council a facilitated process can generate more open discussion than a program conducted in-house.

“I did find that folks were often reticent to engage with staff or members of council and intended to be more candid with an objective third party who’s bringing a degree of objectivity,” he explained.

“And that’s one of the features that I bring to the mix.”

“We did a strategic plan back in 2019 … and we’re looking forward to this one as well, to reinvigorate our process and look forward to some new ideas coming forward from staff, from council, from the community,” said Mayor Gregg Davidson.

“What’s the timeline here? …. What’s the next step?” asked councillor Marlene Ottens.

“I would look to your senior leadership team for some guidance here, but my sense is that we would like to see this process roll out and wrap up by the end of April,” replied Clarke.

However, he added, “I think it is somewhat fluid and I hesitate to be arbitrary there to fix a timeline to get to the finish line, because there are logistics and lining up engagements with people and we want to accommodate.

“I’m perfectly willing to work evenings and weekends to work around folks so that we can be as inclusive as possible,” Clarke noted.

Davidson stressed township officials “don’t want to rush this.

“It’s a very important piece that’s going to set the stage for the next … three-and-a-half years,” he said.

“So we certainly want to make sure we get it right.”

Council received the CAO report for information.