With strategic plan in place township can get down to business, develop work plan

ELORA – Centre Wellington council approved a long-awaited strategic plan on May 29 that will guide the budget, priorities of staff, and establish new advisory committees to help council reach its goals before the next election in 2026.

Its vision is “for the community to experience life along the Grand River.”

Its mission: “we are an active, caring, innovative, safe and connected community.”

Its values: “we value integrity, collaboration, innovation, and equity, diversity and inclusion.”

Council has set five goals for the township as well:

  • creating conditions for economic prosperity;
  • improving activity, health and wellness of the community;
  • managing growth while enhancing the community’s unique character;
  • championing environmental stewardship; and
  • providing innovative and sustainable governance.

While these are very nice motherhood statements, CAO Dan Wilson said the strategic plan is more than just words on a page.

Staff will link the strategic plan to the 2024 budget and report back to council annually on how it’s doing.

The business plan will set staff initiatives and allocate resources, and the advisory committees will reflect council’s goals.

For example, under the growth goal, Wilson said examples of staff initiatives include:

  • planning for a mix of housing across the community;
  • transforming planning rules so that more types of housing are allowed and encouraged;
  • ensuring new development complements heritage properties;
  • ensuring our residents can enjoy their downtowns;
  • including arts and culture in all township facilities; and
  • updating the Parks and Recreation Master Plan to meet changing community needs.

Advisory committees will change, too.

The previous council established four advisory committees that reflected its vision and goals for the community: Heritage Centre Wellington, Healthy Growth, Economic Development Task Force and the Community Services Advisory Committee.

This council will keep Heritage Centre Wellington and will add three new committees: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Economic Prosperity and Growth; and Healthy Communities advisory committees.

Wilson recommended that Healthy Communities have two working groups: Activity, Health, and Wellness Working Group and Active Transportation and Environment Working Group.

Staff recommended a list of candidates for Heritage Centre Wellington and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion advisory committees, which council approved.

Staff will work on terms of reference for the other two committees and begin trying to recruit community members to sit on them.

Councillor Bronwynne Wilton introduced a friendly amendment to the staff recommendations.

She said she wants to have council and staff take a second look at the mission, vision and values statements before 2025 budget deliberations.

Councillors wondered how that was different from the report card Wilson had promised.

Wilson said revisiting the strategic plan is a lot of work, “be we could do a quick look at the strategic plan before budget,” he said, adding the exercise should not need to involve consultants or great costs.

Wilton said the business plan review is great, but it “will focus on the priorities and not the vision, mission and pillars.

“I just want to circle back to the pillars. It’s just a pause to ask if we have the pillars correct,” she said.

Council passed the motion with only councillor Kim Jefferson opposed.

Jefferson and all of council supported the strategic plan.