The Municipality of Merrickville-Wolford held a public meeting last Thursday evening at the Merrickville Community Centre to outline the draft of its strategic plan from now until 2025.
The Strategic Planning Committee, made up of a number of volunteers, as well Deputy Mayor Ann Barr and Councillor Chuck McGuiness, have been working since June to develop a strategic plan for the community which reflects the thoughts and opinions of its residents.
“I’d like to thank all the volunteers on the strategic planning committee,” Mayor David Nash said at the start of the meeting. “They’ve done a fantastic job in putting together a good plan.”
Through a survey, two public meetings and a workshop, the committee was able to gather information and pinpoint four broad priorities on which to base the strategic plan: promoting healthy living, building a progressive and growing economy, ensuring efficient effective services and civic engagement, and protecting rural, natural and built environments.
Each of these priorities was fleshed out a bit more during the meeting, but they remain broad and overarching to allow for any changes or shifts that occur in the coming years. “It is a long term plan, and it’s important that it remain fluid to ensure it is always based on the community’s interests,” said Merrickville-Wolford CAO John Regan.
Once the strategic plan is officially adopted by Council in January, it will be up to them to decide what to focus on first. Then municipal staff will come up with a work plan based on the strategies and priorities Council has pinpointed. “The only thing I like more than strategic planning is strategic doing,” John says. “There is no reason why that shouldn’t be public information, so you know exactly what it is that we’re doing. We’re going to be very public, very open and very transparent.”
There will be one more public meeting held this week at the Centennial Hall in Eastons Corners. That will be the end of the public consultation process and it will be up to municipal staff to then populate the work plan with direction from Council. That being said, any thoughts or concerns can still be brought to councillors for consideration, Councillor Steve Ireland noted at the meeting.
The strategic plan will also be reflected in the 2017 budget, which is being created by municipal staff right now. “It is good timing for us in terms of the budget,” the CAO says. “We will start pocketing some money towards the strategic plan.”
In order to create a long term plan for the community, Mayor Nash says they will also be working on revising their asset plan and sprucing up their economic development plan. “With these three tools we should be in a pretty good position to do our long range planning and chart a course forward over the next several years.”