by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent
Council pondered a significant rework of their annual strategic plan document following a broad and nuanced discussion during their regular Committee of the Whole meeting Nov. 15. The document is produced by Administration each year with input from Council. It consists of pillars, areas the municipality wants to focus on, each with goals, sub-goals, and measurements/actions that the Town and Council should take to improve these areas of focus. It is the primary planning document from Council that lays out their focus for the coming year.
The discussion started off with Deputy Mayor Brennan FitzGerald questioning why the document needed to be as long as it was (this year’s is 20 pages long) FitzGerald said that perhaps the document could be streamlined, looking at Council goals from a higher-level perspective. This was challenged by Councillor Rob Ladouceur, who initially said he felt the same way, but now thinks the detailed document is essential to offering some specific direction to Administration. Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Isbister offered his opinion that the length and level of detail are important for the creation of further, and more specific, planning documents for the Town. Isbister also noted that while this primary document is perhaps a bit of a slog to read, the Town also produces a brief four-page document for the public to view that gives them the gist of the important document.
Following this aside, Mayor Lisa Holmes got into the meat of many concerns she has with the state of the document as it exists now, with multiple members of Council joking that three years into their term, they still haven’t been able to develop a strategic plan they are happy with. Previous years have also been subject to a lot of requests for revision from Council.
Holmes specifically was concerned about the state of measurements used to recognize Council and Town progress in certain pillars, particularly within the area of governance. For Holmes, the measurements felt unspecific and not useful.
Councillor Stephen Dafoe echoed the mayor’s comments and discussed the lack of value in some of the specific measurements for successful public engagement: specifically public attendance at Council meetings or the number of people running for Council as measures of successful governance.
“Getting people angry about an issue isn’t a good thing,” Dafoe said, noting that people who are angry about a Council decision are more likely to show up to meetings or run for Council themselves, rather than agreeing with Council decisions, which provides no reason to attend meetings.
“Maybe bumping up our approval ratings should be a measurement,” Dafoe quipped, referring to Council’s low approval rating revealed by a recent Town survey.
Council concluded their discussion after talking about meeting with Administration for a day to work out issues with the document in a workshop.