Workshop helps hammer out priorities for new strategic plan

 

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Members of town council and administration gathered at the Libro Centre last Wednesday afternoon and tossed around ideas for the town’s new strategic plan.

The new strategic plan, once completed this summer, will guide the town for the next five years with the community also being encouraged to participate through a survey and future public workshop sessions.

Consultants were on hand from MDB Insight to guide town officials through Wednesday’s workshop with Lauren Millier noting the strategic plan should set a firm and balanced set of priorities for the municipality going forward. The survey, which is available to the public through the town’s website as well as paper copies at town hall and the Libro Centre, had garnered 242 replies as of last Wednesday’s workshop.

Consultant Erik Lockhart goes over a list of priorities council members and administration identified during a workshop held at the Libro Centre March 9.

Consultant Erik Lockhart goes over a list of priorities council members and administration identified during a workshop held at the Libro Centre March 9.

Millier called the response to this point “exceptional” but said they would like to have at least 500 surveys filled out by the end of March.

A hotel, a long-term financial plan, waterfront development, positive messaging, economic development, bicycle and walking trails, jobs and leadership were among the items identified by residents to this point with Millier adding she was surprised by the amount of people who live in Amherstburg but work in Windsor.

Concerns raised by the public thus far dealt with the town’s economic development department or lack thereof and a “lack of coordination” with the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce. Concerns also included people stating there is micromanaging being done by council, a lack of infrastructure for businesses and industry and negativity among council.

Council members and town officials were broken off into teams and had to come up with their own priorities as well. Those priorities included delivering cost effective and efficient services, ensuring a good quality of life while being fiscally responsible, to market the town as a place to live and grow, to build adequate reserves, develop a recreation master plan and deciding on the future of policing.

Members of council and administration listen to consultants from MDB Insight talk about the new community based strategic plan March 9.

Members of council and administration listen to consultants from MDB Insight talk about the new community based strategic plan March 9.

Millier said there is no timeframe to bring a draft plan back to council though some were hoping for something as soon as April. The two public workshops are planned for the evenings of March 29-30, though final details and locations are still being worked out. The consultants also plan on meeting with local high school students to gather a youth perspective.

“I thought it was a good start to our strategic plan,” said Councillor Rick Fryer. “I think there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Council needs to engage more with the public, he added, and he said more public input into the strategic plan would be ideal. He admitted to being “disappointed” that the two public workshop sessions are back-to-back nights, believing it could limit attendance if people want to come but work shift work.

A lot of talk was about the downtown, Fryer added, but he wanted to recognize other areas of the community as well.

“I think the central location of Amherstburg should be at the corner of Alma and Howard,” he said. “We’re an amalgamated town. Once you build there, infrastructure will grow.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the workshop was “a great exercise” where a lot of common themes were heard.

“It’s a necessary step moving forward,” said DiCarlo. “It’s nice to see a lot of commonality in goals.”
DiCarlo noted that once everyone’s perspectives were read, “the core beliefs all seem to be common.

“I did not see any surprises at all,” the mayor added. “Amherstburg’s issues have been around long enough already where people have an idea on where we need to focus.”

DiCarlo found many of the priorities he heard to be financially based as well as the need for economic development.

“On the plus side, there are a number of issues that we can continue to do,” DiCarlo added, such as festivals and events.

A direct link to the survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/amherstburgstrategicplan.

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