At a meeting held on March 22 for that specific purpose, the General Committee heard the plans for a new Strategic Plan for the City, as laid out by CAO Frank Fabiano.
This exercise has taken place twice in the almost 30 years that I’ve been following Thorold Council and, truth be told, they both left a lot to be desired, amounting to little more than a wish list. Rather than say where they were taking the City over the involved number of years, they more of a statement of where they hoped the City would go. Hope is not a legitimate ingredient for planning a future.
This time if all goes according to plan (the process one, not the Official one), according to Frank’s presentation, they will be preparing a plan that will state where they realistically intend to take the City for the next five years, how much it will cost, where the money will reasonably be expected to come from, and what needs to be done and when to achieve the goals. This is a huge order, especially since there will be a process for input from stakeholders, meaning committees, community organizations, staff and unions, and the public through public meetings.
Anyone who took part in the process last time (not that long ago), you may have found all the meetings made it all seem rather chaotic. To answer that in part, this time, things will be done a bit differently. This time, Council and staff will hammer out a draft plan which will then go out to committees and organizations and such. The draft will be made available to the public for comment, written or at public meetings.
Certain planning parameters will be made clear:
- Thorold’s strengths and weaknesses (arrived at through SWOT analysis);
- Core service requirements and costs;
- Regulatory and statutory requirements;
- Sources of reasonably predictable income;
- Condition of facilities, etc.
The new may will have Council looking hard at which present services they wish to keep and, in the end, may mean lowering some areas of service to levels normally accepted elsewhere other than Thorold (that’s right, in some things, we get much better service than most places, such as snow clearance, although some don’t agree).
In the end, we will hopefully end up with a plan to run the City on for a five-year period, after which Council will have to review and revise and plug in the new numbers.
And, hopefully, they will actually stick to the plan and not cave in to the first loud group to appear at Council demanding, “We deserve to have…”