Ini­tia­tive to pre­pare next re­gional coun­cil

The Niagara Falls Review - - Front Page - AL­LAN BEN­NER

Ni­a­gara will be ask­ing res­i­dents through­out the Re­gion to iden­tify pri­or­i­ties to help the next term of coun­cil hit the ground run­ning.

It’s part of a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion ini­tia­tive called Shape Ni­a­gara, which is in­tended to pro­vide in­com­ing re­gional coun­cil­lors with the in­for­ma­tion they need to de­velop a strate­gic plan to guide them for the next four years.

Re­gional Chair Alan Caslin, who first an­nounced the ini­tia­tive dur­ing his re­cent state-ofthe-re­gion ad­dress, said it’s an op­por­tu­nity the cur­rent term of coun­cil missed out on.

“We learned our lessons from the last time around with our strate­gic plan when coun­cil felt some­what alien­ated in not par­tic­i­pat­ing in the prepa­ra­tion of the strate­gic plan, so we won’t do that again,” Caslin said.

“But in or­der to put to­gether a strate­gic plan, the data needs to be gath­ered,” he added.

Ni­a­gara’s di­rec­tor of in­ter­nal con­trol and or­ga­ni­za­tional per­for­mance Ma­ciej Jur­czyk was at last Thurs­day’s re­gional coun­cil meet­ing to dis­cuss plans for the ini­tia­tive.

“We’re call­ing this the broad­est coun­cil strate­gic en­gage­ment ini­tia­tive in mem­ory and our goal is to be far-reach­ing and in­clu­sive,” Jur­czyk told coun­cil­lors.

He said the ini­tia­tive will in­clude nu­mer­ous ac­tiv­i­ties de­signed to so­licit com­mu­nity feed­back, in­clud­ing of five pub­lic open houses, on­line con­sul­ta­tion, a so­cial me­dia cam­paign “and a vis­i­ble pres­ence at high-pro­file events like (Ro­tary) RibFest and the FIBA bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment.”

A cen­tral part of the con­sul­ta­tion is a web­page at ni­a­garare­­ni­a­gara, where peo­ple can fill in a two-page sur­vey iden­ti­fy­ing pri­or­i­ties, such in­fras­truc­ture and ser­vices, en­vi­ron­ment, gover­nance and ad­vo­cacy, eco­nomic growth, health and well­ness, and qual­ity of life.

The sur­vey also asks re­spon­dents for three words that best de­scribe Ni­a­gara, it asks peo­ple to iden­tify the Re­gion’s strengths, its weak­nesses, and ideas on how to lever­age its strengths and im­prove the weak­nesses. It also asks re­spon­dents what they hope Ni­a­gara is known for in 10 years.

The Re­gion is plan­ning tele­phone sur­veys as part of the ini­ti­ate as well.

“Those are some of the means and tech­niques that we’re go­ing to have for so­lic­it­ing this feed­back,” Jur­czyk said.

“In the spirit of open­ness and trans­parency, we’ll be pub­lish­ing the feed­back that we have on the web­site, so this al­lows res­i­dents

and stake­hold­ers to fol­low along read the feed­back that other folks had of­fered.”

Jur­czyk said he will re­turn to re­gional coun­cil in Septem­ber with an up­date on the pub­lic

con­sul­ta­tion gar­nered through the ef­forts.

St. Catharines Coun. Tim Rigby said he is “glad to hear” that the ini­tia­tive is in­tended to pro­vide the in­com­ing coun­cil with the back­ground it needs to de­velop its own strate­gies for the com­ing term.

He said he likes the idea be­hind

the project, but said “it would have been nice for this coun­cil to know be­fore our chair an­nounced it to the pub­lic.”

“I think it’s im­por­tant that we are mind­ful of that go­ing for­ward.”

Tim Rigby

Alan Caslin

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