The Town of Tillsonburg held a special virtual meeting Feb. 16 focusing exclusively on its new Strategic Plan initiative, which was launched Jan. 11, and will be developed in stages over the next several months.
Community engagement is expected to be one of the key elements in creating the Community Strategic Plan, and with that in mind, the four-hour Council Workshop was live-streamed on YouTube, led by consultant Erin O’Hoski from Boulevard Strategy Group.
“In our individual conversations by telephone over the past month or so, what I told you is that I would take everything that I heard and wrap it up and present it to you at your first workshop,” said O’Hoski. “You can tell me where I’m on the money and where things need to change before we take what we’re discussing today out for robust feedback from the community (in March-April 2021), and for input from your (town) employees.”
It started with vision and mission statements, and making sure that overall goals were on course.
When feedback is accumulated, both from council, its employees and the community, O’Hoski will be summarizing the work before a second council workshop happens (Phase 5).
The aim is to have the Strategic Plan ready for approval on June 28, depending on time taken for community engagement, which will replace the earlier 2014-2018 Plan (Connected, Enriched, Inspired).
“By summer of this year, aiming for final approval by this council,” said O’Hoski.
The Plan will take into account budgets and business plans, the asset management plan, official plan, community improvement plan, trails master plan, upcoming economic plans, and demographic information.
Council feedback leading up to the Feb. 16 meeting included comments about increasing industry and prosperity, and the importance of listening to the community.
“We also had conversations with your senior staff,” said O’Hoski, who noted important points included keeping up with infrastructure, managing growth, attracting industry and financial stability.
Vision themes included diverse industry, small-town charm, engaged community and modern amenities.
During the community engagement stage, O’Hoski will lead a business leaders focus group of about 15 people, including members of the Economic Advisory committee, the executive director of the BIA, head of the Chamber of Commerce.
There will be community partners and community leaders focus which might include representatives from the Rotary, Lions and Lioness, Kinsmen and Kinettes, Royal Canadian Legion, and local retirement communities (Hickory Hills and Baldwin Place), the Senior Centre, Optimists, as well as a potential invite from a representative of Glendale High School student council to get “the youth perspective.”
There will also be an external survey, and Mayor Stephen Molnar asked for clarification.
“What’s on the survey, who’s included in the survey, it’s kind of the who, what, where, when and why,” said Molnar, noting a slide in the presentation that identified three weeks in March 2021 as the ‘when.’ “What’s being asked? Do we have a slate of questions, is there a process?”
“The survey is yet to be developed,” said O’Hoski, noting the timeline might shift to later in March, early April, “because this part in the process needed to come first.”
“Are you looking for input on the survey?” Molnar asked.
“I believe the input we were looking for, we got today,” said O’Hoski, “in terms of the directions and what we need to dig deeper into to ask the community about.”