Town councillors and staff joined community partners at Sunny Cove earlier this month to begin the development of a strategic plan.
Once drafted, the plan will act as a guide for town council over the remainder of their four-year term.
“You’re really setting out a road map of what you want to achieve as an organization,” noted the town’s human resources manager Jordan Forbes, who led the strategic planning session.
The session also looks at what the town can improve on and potential threats to the municipality and community as a whole.
As well, the strategic plan will outline where the town sees itself In five years.
During the preliminary planning session, town representatives and staff came across similar themes when discussing critical issues.
“The most important ones we mentioned were investment attraction-attracting small business and another industry to come into Fort Frances,” Forbes explained.
As well, tourism and sports tourism were areas of focus during the session and asset management for town owned infrastructure because of the effect it will have on municipal budgets for years to come.
The group also discussed emergency management and planning for events due to climate change and First Nations partnerships, to help rehabilitate Point Park into a desirable area for camping.
“Those are some ground objectives that had been touched on and a lot of common themes people had brought forward,” Forbes recalled.
“The final plan can be some what different from that, we’re still going to do some refining.”
The strategic plan starts with really broad ideas that are narrowed down before strategies are devised for their implementation.
“Right now, we’re just in the brainstorming stage,” Forbes noted.
A timeline is also attached to the objectives outlined in the plan, while some may be completed within the year, other objectives could require the full four-year term of council or longer.
“Some may be ongoing indefinitely, especially ones that are geared towards developing relationships with external agencies or communities and things like that,” Forbes remarked.
During the preliminary strategic planning session, attendees also looked at Fort Frances’ competitive advantages.
“We looked at our competitive positioning and our competitive advantage in what makes our community better than other places to live or why our organization is better than another place,” Forbes explained.
He noted that while creating a strategic plan isn’t mandated by the government, it’s something every municipality really should do.
“It guides decision making in the future and it’s a key function of long-term planning for an organization,” Forbes said.
Another session was held more recently to collect input from the town’s superintendents and broader public sector partners, and another session will be held with the citizen members of the council committees.
Once input is collected from stakeholders and interested parties a drafted plan will come to council before gathering input from the public.
The draft plan should be completed around December, at which point consultation sessions will be held with the community.
“The public should know they’re going to have an opportunity to participate in a consultation sessions as we get the further down the road . . . we’ll be seeking their input on it,” Forbes stressed.
“That’s a critical part of strategic planning–you can’t have one for a town without having public input.”