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City spending $105K for core service review, strategic plan

Mayor says he's not 'interested in spending time or dollars creating a light, airy document'
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The city will be spending over $100,000 in the coming months to review the way it delivers core services and to develop a strategic plan aimed at charting council’s course over its term.

On Monday night, council committee agreed to tackle the two issues simultaneously after staff recommended such an approach would save money and achieve more. The decision must be ratified at Monday night’s council meeting.

During budget deliberations earlier this year, council earmarked $85,000 for a review of services performed by the city.

That review “will assess the city’s current services and service delivery models, assess alternative service delivery methods, possible changes to the level of service, organizational structure, and determine opportunities to be more efficient and effective in the sustainable delivery of municipal services.”

This week, council agreed to spend an additional $20,000 on a parallel strategic plan.

Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke supported the initiative.

“In the last council, I believe we saw how a well-structured decision making template worked,” said Clarke, noting that council identified two major objectives, “enshrined them in a working plan along with other projects and then made a series of decisions throughout those four years to move these goals ahead.”

While he said that worked, he conceded it was, perhaps, too focused.

“To my mind what we may have missed was truly identifying the vision of how we see our city looking in 10 years or 20 years and then coming up with a corporate or structured working plan where all of our decisions within that plan are to bring the vision to reality,” he said.

He said developing these two documents “in a certain sequence, so decisions on how to evolve the city’s services come from the vision and from the overarching strategic plan” would be helpful.

However, he stressed the plan has to be doable.

“I’m not interested in spending time or dollars creating a light, airy document that will sit on a shelf,” said Clarke. “It’s been years since either one of these particular plans have been contemplated.

“I do look forward to getting public input, to the process and the resulting documents, but even more important the weekly decisions we make as a result of those documents that will carry the vision of the city forward.”

City CAO Gayle Jackson said doing the projects in concert, using the same consultant, would create “synergies and, as a result, cost savings.”

While the new council has already identified its top two priorities - downtown waterfront development and refining operations and infrastructure - the strategic/corporate planning process is meant to “assist council with developing, refining and clearly defining their goals and objectives while providing a clear direction to the administration with a prioritized work plan for this council’s term.”

Staff believe it will take the remainder of the year to complete both projects.

This is how they see it playing out this year.

Phase 1 – Facilitated Sessions

This phase will include session(s)/interviews with council and the senior management team in order to:

  • Understand the city's strategic environment, potential priorities and directions;
  • Identify service objectives, challenges, and expectations;
  • Review organizational structure and service delivery models;
  • Define/review the vision for the community and the mission of the City of Orillia;
  • Develop the primary strategic directions the city will pursue to achieve these goals; and
  • Discuss how action plans will be developed for each strategic direction and how progress will be measured and reported on.

Phase 2 – Community/Stakeholder Engagement

This phase will include interviews with stakeholders and release of a defined survey that will invite the public to share their vision with council and rank priorities of service delivery and expectations.

Phase 3 – Development of Action Plans

This phase will include a staff working group working with the consultant to review and integrate the action plans based on public input, stakeholder feedback and sessions/interviews with council and senior management. This will also include a follow up session to develop the draft strategic plan.

Phase 4 – Community Input

Circulate the draft Strategic Plan for final public input and feedback.

Phase 5 – Presentation of Service Delivery Report and Strategic Plan

As noted earlier, the process will produce distinct documents which would both be anticipated to be presented to council in December 2019.

Once adopted, semi-annual meetings of council will be held with senior staff to go through the strategic plan and discuss the status and progress of each action item.




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Dave Dawson

About the Author: Dave Dawson

Dave Dawson is community editor of OrilliaMatters.com
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