Initiative to prepare next regional council
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 niagararegion.ca/shapeniagara, 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.”