Purpose & Background
In 2003, the City of Barrie completed a 20 Year Plan - Foundation for our Future. The purpose of the Plan was to establish a 20-year community vision and goals. It was also intended to guide the creation and implementation of municipal activities to ensure the City's efforts would contribute to the community vision and goals. Concurrently, and since 2003, the City has prepared and finalized approximately 40 long range studies and master plans to guide the form, level and scope of various municipal services in response to community growth and, in part, to reflect the community vision and goals. These studies and plans describe among other information, current capacities and future recommendations for growth and expansion of the respective services and infrastructure included in the reports. Examples of the services and infrastructure documented in these long range plans and studies include transportation, drainage, recreation, culture, secondary plans, and water and wastewater servicing.
The Executive Management Team at the City of Barrie recognized that the realization of the 20 Year Plan, or successfully implementing the results of long range studies and master plans, depended on several factors. A key factor is a choice by City Council to select a limited number of goals and related strategies that identify particular outcomes it wants to achieve, or at least make progress toward achieving, during its term. In this context, there were two important components considered in development of the Strategic Plan:
- Selecting goals and strategies – to establish Council's areas of importance and signify its intention to focus on achieving specific goals using a particular set of strategies. Selecting goals and strategies acknowledges that Council cannot be “all things to all people” and needs to focus its efforts.
- Building plans to implement the strategies – the City's annual business planning process is the vehicle for identifying the specific resources, timing and amount of funding required for implementing the strategies. This could include short, medium and long term projects that span one or more years and/or terms of Council.
A project to establish a Strategic Plan for the 2010-2014 term of Council was initiated in September 2010 by staff. The overall objective of the project was to have City Council develop strategic direction over the next four years to guide its decision making and assist staff with building realistic, affordable and achievable action plans that reflect Council's strategic direction. There are many approaches to strategic planning. Given that the City had accomplished many of the key components for the creation of a strategic plan, namely the 20 Year Plan - Foundation for our Future and the various long range studies and master plans, the approach adopted acknowledged these existing components and focused efforts on validating and completing the missing pieces.
The project steps taken in completing Council’s Strategic Plan included:
- Council review of the existing community vision and goals to ensure their effectiveness in describing the City’s future or ideal state,
- Council development of strategic approaches for the vision and goals to define how components of the ideal state can be achieved,
- Staff alignment of short, medium and long term action items for each strategic approach and developing plans for successful implementation over the 4 years and beyond, and
- Staff monitoring success of the plans and soliciting feedback on implemented processes/activities to ensure intended results are achieved.
Two strategic planning sessions were held with members of Council. The first, an all day session was held on December 11, 2010 and the second, a half day session occurred on February 12th, 2011. At its meeting of December 11th, members of Council reviewed the City’s existing community vision and provided a long list of words and phrases that captured the essence of their vision for Barrie. Staff reviewed the list of words and phrases received from Council and provided two draft vision statements for Council’s consideration at the February 12th meeting. Based on comments received at this meeting, a revised City vision was developed and approved by Council on March 14, 2011. The revised vision for the City is a forward-looking, clear and concise statement that recognizes among other factors, the importance of community involvement, success, variety and open-mindedness as essential components of an ideal state for the City.
At its meeting of December 11th, members of Council reviewed the City’s community goals established in 2003 as well as the strategic priorities from the previous 2006-2010 term of Council. With the desired outcomes of the revised City vision in mind, Council identified five key areas of focus and translated these focus areas into five general goals for the City. These five goals were further reviewed and revised at the February 12th meeting. The five goals approved by Council on March 14, 2011 represent key areas of focus for the City during this term of Council. The goals, which place importance on economic development, growth, the environment, financial condition, the City Centre, and community involvement and City interactions will guide the strategic direction of the City and assist in its realization of all or part of the City’s vision.
Strategies are the necessary links from the vision and goals to the action plans, and define how desired outcomes in the vision and goals can be achieved. At its December 11th meeting, members of Council discussed each of the five goals and developed strategies for each goal. These strategies, further reviewed and revised at the February 12th meeting are the basis for describing how components of the vision and goals will be realized during the 2010-2014 term. A total of 20 strategies were developed by Council and approved on March 14, 2011. A sampling of these strategies include strategic activities such as diversifying revenues, developing a customer service strategy, promoting the downtown and waterfront, bringing new employment lands to market, and attracting business sector clustering.
A series of potential action items, to realize the desired outcomes of Council’s goals and strategies were identified by staff and presented to Council at its meeting of February 12th. Data derived from the City’s existing master plans and long range studies, including the 10 year capital plan were used to develop the action item lists. The list of potential projects and initiatives for 2011 were presented as part of the City's annual business plan. With Council approval of the 2011 Business Plan on April 4th, a series of projects have now been confirmed and will be implemented this year. Implementation of additional strategic projects and initiatives in 2012, 2013 and 2014 will be subject to Council’s approval of the City’s business plan for each of the respective years.