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“A Perfect Place to Live, Work, and Play”

 

 

 

Strategic Plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revised

November, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

To the Whitestone community……

 

Early in its term, your current Council decided that the Municipality of Whitestone should have a strategic plan to serve as a framework for our decisions as we seek to make Whitestone a better place to live, work, and play.  We therefore set aside several special meetings to consider guiding principles, objectives, and key action items.

 

This document is the product of our efforts thus far.  It represents the current consensus of Council as to the vision, mission, and core values for our Municipality, and defines a number of high-level objectives organized under seven broad headings.

 

I am now pleased to submit this plan to the Community for your consideration and comment.   Are there elements of the plan that resonate with you, or that you feel are unnecessary?  Are there things you think we missed, or that could be stated more clearly?  We welcome your feedback, which should be forwarded to our CAO / Clerk / Treasurer Tammy Wylie.  In addition, I and my colleagues on Council will be happy to discuss it with you.

 

This version of the Strategic Plan will remain open for consultation and comment until the end of September 2015, after which Council will review the feedback received and make any necessary revisions.

 

Please note that this Strategic Plan is intended to be a living document – to be reviewed periodically and updated to reflect both changing circumstances and our achievement of its objectives.

 

Please also note that your Council is already working to prepare detailed implementation plans for some elements – in fact, some tasks have been completed already.  Watch for progress reports on implementation of the plan in our Newsletters and on the Municipality’s website. 

 

Thank you in advance for your important contributions to the Municipality of Whitestone’s strategic planning process.

 

Sincerely,

Mayor Chris Armstrong

Vision

Under the leadership of Council, and working together in a spirit of collaboration, our community is engaged in making Whitestone one of the best places in Ontario to live, work, and play, so that:

  

  • The services the community wants and needs are delivered efficiently and effectively.

 

  • Whitestone’s unique character, beauty, and quality of life are preserved and enhanced.

 

  • Its resources are managed prudently for the benefit of present and future generations.

Mission

Our mission is to achieve and maintain a municipality that is sound financially, supportive of appropriate opportunities, protective of the natural environment, and that preserves the unique heritage of the area.

We challenge ourselves to diversify and create a more vibrant local economy through collaborative partnerships with existing businesses, service groups, and adjacent municipalities, as well as through proactive efforts to attract new businesses and services.

We will create initiatives to include all residents, both permanent and seasonal, in contributing to the betterment of our community.

 

Core Values

We will govern our actions according to the following core values:

 

  • Accountability                 .   Openness and transparency  

 

  • Respect for others          .   Respect for nature and the environment

 

  • Honesty and integrity     .   Efficiency and cost effectiveness

 

 

Strategic Objectives

 

  1. Communication

 

To review and improve the Municipality’s communication with all stakeholders in the community with a view to openness and transparency

 

  1. Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability

 

To be financially responsible and accountable in delivering municipal services efficiently and cost effectively within the community’s economic framework

 

  1. Management Systems

 

To develop management systems that support the goals and objectives of Council and staff

 

  1. Environmental Stewardship

 

To preserve and enhance the natural environment of our community with its small, rural, and waterfront character, and maximize the quality of life for present and future generations

 

  1. Maintenance of our Infrastructure

 

To maintain and preserve the Municipality’s infrastructure to established standards within our financial capability

 

  1. Economic Development

 

To investigate opportunities for economic development consistent with the character of the community and the Official Plan, in collaboration with businesses and the Community Economic Development Committee

 

  1. Building Community

 

To encourage and enhance community involvement, pride, and spirit in the Municipality, including its visual image

Action Plan Priorities to Achieve Strategic Objectives

 

  1. Communication

 

  • Review and renew communication policy

 

Whitestone has in place various policies governing communication:  what is to be communicated, when, how, and by whom.  These policies will be reviewed and amended where appropriate to reflect Council’s priority for effective communication and the needs of our various stakeholders, and to take advantage of modern communication technologies.

 

  • Improve communication with ratepayers through newsletters, website, social media, meetings, etc.

 

Arguably the Municipality’s most important stakeholder group is its ratepayers.  Council has expressed its desire to enhance its communication with ratepayers, in both directions; i.e., to provide them with better information on the issues facing the municipality and how Council and Municipal staff are addressing them, and to provide them with opportunities to provide input and feedback.

 

Various communication media will be considered as vehicles for delivering key messages and for obtaining ratepayer input and feedback.  These will include printed newsletters, the Municipal website, social media, and meetings (Council meetings, special meetings, “town hall” meetings, and meetings with various community groups). 

 

  • Improve internal communication practices

 

Special emphasis will be placed on improving communication with, and within, Municipal staff.  Council believes it is important that all staff understand Municipal goals, priorities and directions, and how they can contribute to advancing them.  Enhancing internal communication will contribute positively to workplace harmony, collaboration, and employee satisfaction.   

 

  • Investigate videoconferencing

 

Videoconferencing technology offers significant opportunities for improving communication.  Council intends to investigate this technology with a view to incorporating it into our business model.

 

  • Review and reinstate Council Report Card

 

Council will reinstate the “Council report card” under which ratepayer feedback is solicited on how well the affairs of the Municipality are being governed and managed, after reviewing past ratepayer surveys and refining the type of opinions being sought.

  1. Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability

 

  • Improve the budgeting process

 

Council believes that the fiscal planning and budgeting processes can be streamlined by focusing up front on significant changes to key budget assumptions such as those related to:

  • Inflation and interest rates, increases in cost of living and of key commodities
  • Exogenous events (e.g., extreme weather events, natural disasters)
  • Actions of other governments (e.g., changes to the OPP service costing model; new regulations)
  • Staffing requirements (e.g., results of collective bargaining)
  • Requirements for capital planning and asset management
  • New initiatives   

 

This approach may reduce both Council time and the elapsed time required to finalize the annual Municipal budgets.

 

  • Strengthen reserves for contingencies and major capital expenditures

 

Municipal budgets will include reasonable reserves for contingencies that cannot be predicted accurately (such as extreme weather events), and for predictable major capital expenditures required to replace and renew key municipal assets.  Even if such expenditures are to be financed through borrowing, the annual municipal budgets cannot accommodate them without reserves to cushion tax increases.  

 

  • Collaborate with neighbouring municipalities and external agencies

 

Opportunities may exist for sharing procurements and/or services with neighbouring municipalities and other agencies in the region.  The Municipality of Whitestone will explore such opportunities as a means of obtaining efficiencies and controlling costs.

 

  • Engage in responsible collective bargaining

 

Council will engage in responsible collective bargaining with a view to balancing the need for fiscal responsibility and accountability to ratepayers with the need to maintain a productive workforce and good labour relations.

 

  • Capitalize on external sources of funding / grants

 

Council will attempt to take advantage of all available sources of external funding for contingencies, major capital projects, and community enhancements.

 

  1. Management Systems

 

  • Clarify roles and responsibilities

 

With a small staff and tight budgets, the Municipality of Whitestone must place a high priority on effective organization and staffing.  Council will continue to take steps to clarify staff roles, responsibilities, and authorities, and to ensure that all staff are trained and equipped to perform their duties. 

 

  • Enhance performance appraisals

 

A comprehensive performance appraisal system is required to evaluate staff against key objectives for their positions, to provide meaningful feedback, and to identify development opportunities.

 

  • Measure results against objectives

 

As part of this strategic plan, Council intends to define specific performance objectives with associated timelines and costs, and measure achievement of those objectives on an ongoing basis.  This management discipline will ensure that efforts are focused on the most important outcomes, and will enable resources to be adjusted as required to maximize their achievement. 

 

  • Plan for management development and succession

 

The Municipality’s staffing needs will be reviewed on a regular basis with a view to identifying potential skills gaps and opportunities for staff development and succession. 

 

  • Manage Council’s business more effectively

 

Council will review its operations and procedures to identify opportunities to make Council meetings more productive.

 

  • Review policies, procedures, and processes

 

Council will review established policies, procedures, and processes to bring them up-to-date and to ensure their consistency with this strategic plan and the Whitestone Official plan.

 

  1. Environmental Stewardship

 

  • Outreach to conservation associations

 

Council will increase communication and collaboration with the conservation and lake associations that exist within the bounds of the Municipality as a means of focusing our collective efforts on environmental stewardship.

 

  • Enhance lake and watershed planning and management

 

The Municipality of Whitestone will participate in and encourage lake planning and management efforts at the watershed level to ensure that the interests of our lakes and their residents / users are recognized appropriately in regional planning and operations.

 

  • Monitor and promote water quality

 

The Municipality of Whitestone will encourage and support programs to maintain and enhance water quality in the lakes, rivers, and aquifers within its bounds.

 

  • Educate about recycling and hazardous waste

 

A significant amount of recyclable waste is being discarded in the Municipality’s landfill sites as regular garbage, instead of being segregated and deposited in the containers provided for recycling.  This environmentally unfriendly practice shortens the useful life of the landfill sites.  In addition, some ratepayers appear to be unclear as to what can and can’t be recycled, what materials are considered hazardous waste, and how to dispose of them.

 

Council will step up programs to educate our community on the importance of responsible waste management practices and to encourage waste reduction and recycling wherever possible.  

 

  • Plan for the future of landfill sites

 

The Municipality’s two existing waste management facilities (on York Street and Auld’s Road) have limited capacity for future expansion and could be nearing their end-of-life.  Given the lengthy and difficult approval processes associated with such facilities, it is important to plan for Whitestone’s future waste management needs well in advance of their reaching capacity.  Council will consider options for extending the life of our waste management facilities, including other operating models such as transfer stations.

 

 

  1. Maintenance of our Infrastructure

 

  • Review and update 5-year road plan annually

 

In order to plan and budget for capital works, and to focus applications for external (e.g., provincial) funding, on the area of greatest need, the Municipality must have an up-to-date road plan with priorities for major improvements beyond routine annual maintenance.   To this end, all municipal roads will be assessed annually as to their condition and need for capital improvement, and the 5-year road plan will be updated accordingly.  Applications will be submitted for available external funding. 

 

  • Support private road grant protocol

 

The Municipality will continue to support the existing Private Road Grant Protocol that assists users of shared private (unassumed) roads with a portion of their costs of maintaining those roads privately.

 

  • Improve signage

 

Council intends to identify and respond to opportunities to improve signage within the Municipality for the benefit of visitors to the community and for public safety.

 

  • Implement municipal asset management plan

 

The Municipality of Whitestone will maintain a 5-year capital plan for its non-road assets including buildings and equipment to ensure that their needs for maintenance and /or replacement are properly addressed.  Plans, specifications, and drawings will be prepared in advance to facilitate taking advantage of external funding opportunities that may become available on short notice.

 

  • Develop land use and acquisition strategy

 

Council will develop a strategy for the use of existing Municipal property and potentially available public lands that may be used to further some of the objectives in this strategic plan.

                                        

 

 

  1. Economic Development

 

  • Identify opportunities for and obstacles to economic activity

 

Council will work with the community partners and the Community Economic Development Committee to identify and address:

  • The Community’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of economic development;
  • Opportunities for development of new economic activity;
  • Threats to existing economic activity;

with a view to determining priorities for improving the economic climate in the Municipality and for attracting new businesses.

 

  • Encourage home-based businesses

 

The municipality will consider means of attracting new businesses that do not need to be located in major centres and that do not require extensive physical facilities, such as those that can be home-based. 

 

  • Attract tourism through events

 

In collaboration with local businesses and associations, the Municipality will seek opportunities to promote tourism through special events.

 

  • Collaborate with existing businesses

 

The Municipality will seek strategies that assist existing businesses to grow and prosper.

 

  • Consider shared economic development resources

 

The Municipality will consider partnering with neighbouring municipalities to share economic development resources.

 

  • Promote our commercial tax rate

 

The Municipality will promote its favourable commercial tax rate, which is the same as its residential tax rate.

 

 

  1. Building Community

 

  • Promote community assets

 

Some of Whitestone’s assets and facilities are not well known and may be underutilized.  The Municipalitywill promote these assets and their use to both residents and visitors. 

 

  • Support future of Whitestone Lake Public School

 

The existence of a public elementary school in the Municipality is a significant factor in making Whitestone a place where families with young children will choose to live, and in preserving the character of the community for the future.  Council will use its influence to support the continued existence of the school and the expansion of its programs and facilities.

 

  • Encourage and enhance community involvement

 

The vitality of a community depends in large measure on the commitment and engagement of its ratepayers.  The Municipality of Whitestone will seek opportunities to promote involvement in the community and its affairs on the part of all residents, both permanent and seasonal.

 

  • Support the Whitestone Hagerman Memorial Public Library

 

The Whitestone Hagerman Memorial Public Library has become an important hub for advancing personal growth, life-long learning, and recreational interests of the community, and is rapidly outgrowing its existing facilities.  Council will work with the Library Board and staff and the community at large to explore opportunities to expand the Library’s services and programs.

 

  • Investigate community improvement programs

 

Throughout Canada, communities similar in size and character to Whitestone face the same challenges of maintaining their unique character and attractiveness.  Opportunities exist to learn from and emulate the best community improvement practices of other communities.  The Municipality of Whitestone will consider participating in community improvement programs that offer expertise and standardized approaches to community improvement.

 

  • Promote tidiness

 

Tidiness and attractiveness are important contributors to residents’ pride in their community and to its appeal to visitors.  The Municipality of Whitestone will promote tidiness and beautification of the community through measures such as community clean-up days and special days for disposal of yard waste and other unsightly materials.

 

  • Enhance appreciation of volunteers

 

Whitestone depends on its dedicated volunteer base for many important community activities and services.  The Municipality will encourage recognition and appreciation of volunteers, both within the community and externally, as a means of building community.

 

  • Recognize milestones

 

The Municipality will recognize milestones both in the history of the community, and in the lives of its residents, as a means of building community.

 

  • Promote health and safety

 

Health and safety are important factors in the quality of life of Whitestone residents.  Council will continue to support health and safety related services and programs within the Municipality such as the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service, the Nursing Station, and fitness programs.