Strategic plan to get overhaul in Rideau Lakes Township

The Township of Rideau Lakes will revisit its strategic plan and are encouraging public input. Photo credit: Laurie Weir.
Posted on: April 22, 2024

Public input sought during implementation of new plan


The Township of Rideau Lakes will undergo an overhaul on its strategic plan, as staff will encourage public input. 

Shellee Fournier, the township’s chief administrative officer, will lead the project. 

“I’ve reviewed the document that was prepared in June (2023),” she said during a regular meeting of the municipal services committee on Monday, April 22. “With my experience in preparing strategic plans, it appeared to be just a bit too narrow in focus and I’d like to see it broadened to cover a lot of areas (in) the municipality from arts and culture, environmental, and infrastructure.”

Fournier said she’d like to hold a three-hour public strategic planning session in June that would include council, staff and interested members of the public. Topics of conversation include economic prosperity, environment and infrastructure, planning and development, quality of life and recreation, community protection and governance and administration. 

They would facilitate a meeting with tabletop discussions with at least one councillor per table and associated staff members by department. 

Members of the public would join the table of their interest. 

Key goals, objectives and strategies for each sector would be identified, followed by a presentation to the rest of the group. 

Initiatives would then be prioritized.

Fournier said she would then draft a corporate strategic plan document for council and public comment, review and subsequent approval. 

There was $10,000 earmarked for this but it was removed from the 2024 budget with the intention of completing the work in-house. 

Coun. Paula Banks suggested the Elgin Hall or Lions Club to host the event, instead of the South Elmsley Hall. She would also like to see pre-registration take place to gauge how many people they would be looking to seat, and to move the event to a larger venue if they needed to. 

“I like the idea that we’re now adding the public,” she said. “In the original one, the public did not have a lot of say. And I like the expansion of the different topics, because I also agree it was too narrowly focused on what council wanted and what employees wanted.”

Coun. Jeff Banks said he thought strategic plans “are not a good idea,” as he’s been through several of them as a veteran councillor. “You change the council and the strategic plan goes out the window like we saw with the hub – it just flies out the window. It’s gone.”

He was referring to the Portland municipal hub plans for the office, library and hall that was kiboshed by the new council following the election in 2022. 

Prior to the last plan, Banks said the strategic plan focused on the hamlets of the township. “We couldn’t develop our hamlets because we didn’t have any vacant lots to increase the population. So that wasn’t even a good idea to even have that in the strategic plan.”

Another problem J. Banks had with this plan was “allowing the public to be at the meeting.”

He said he didn’t have a problem with recommendations, (sent in via email), because “we’re going to get about four or five special interest groups in here and that’s exactly how the meeting is going to go. We were elected to represent the public and we’re here for another two and a half years. I think we take their input but I don’t think we allow them at the meeting. I don’t want the meeting to be overtaken by the public.”

Coun. Deborah Anne Hutchings suggested adding agriculture to the mix. 

Coun. Joan Delaney liked having the open dialogue with the public as it gives them transparency. She’d also like to see it at the Lions Hall where there is more room to spread out. 

Fournier noted, to alleviate J. Banks’ fears of it being overwhelmed by public input, that she would facilitate the event, and keep the dialogue moving along. 

“Focus will be on certain questions,” Fournier said. “I’ll be going around table to table, making sure the group conversations are on track.”

Coun. Ron Pollard agreed with the new approach, saying they probably won’t have lot of people out for it. 

“We’ve never had a big crowd at anything,” he said. 

Coun. Sue Dunfield requested protection for the meeting. 

“Due to past history, I’m wondering if we can have some security there,” she said. 

Fournier said if council wishes, they could do that. 

Councillors approved the option to revisit the strategic plan with a meeting scheduled for June in Elgin. It will be brought back to a future council meeting for final approval.

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News