City of Swift Cur­rent ap­proves three-year Strate­gic Plan

The Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE - SCOTT AN­DER­SON SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

Swift Cur­rent City Coun­cil gave unan­i­mous ap­proval to a three-year Strate­gic Plan as the start of a longer term strat­egy which is aim­ing to grow Swift Cur­rent’s pop­u­la­tion to 25,000 by 2025.

The doc­u­ment builds on some of the themes in­tro­duced in the for­mer three­year Strate­gic Plan which ex­pired at the end of 2013, with the new plan en­vi­sion­ing growth by es­tab­lish­ing the poli­cies and pri­or­i­ties to grow the com­mu­nity.

“We de­cided that as a Coun­cil we want to set a high bar. Not only for the re­main­der of this term but for Coun­cil’s in the fu­ture, that we’re a com­mu­nity that’s very se­ri­ous about grow­ing our pop­u­la­tion. Be­cause ob­vi­ously with that comes greater op­por­tu­ni­ties in em­ploy­ment and ameni­ties and qual­ity of life,” Mayor Jer­rod Schafer said fol­low­ing the ap­proval of the new Strate­gic Plan. “We want the world to know that we’re open for busi­ness, that we want to at­tract busi­ness, and that we of­fer a high qual­ity of life for all de­mo­graph­ics.” The 18 page plan cov­ers a se­ries of strate­gic di­rec­tions the City is look­ing to fol­low from 2014 to 2016, and City of Swift Cur­rent Chief Ad­min­is­tra­tive Of­fi­cer Su­san Motkaluk feels by hav­ing a clear vi­sion for how to pro­ceed with a growth fo­cussed agenda it pro­vides a clear di­rec­tion for ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“It was a lot of dis­cus­sion in­ter­nally with the ad­min­is­tra­tive team. Is this achiev­able? Is this a dream? Is this some­thing that we can do? And of course very lengthy dis­cus­sions with City Coun­cil as well. We re­ally want to reach for that growth and we want to reach high. So the con­cept of a goal and a vi­sion of 25,000 we cer­tainly feel like it’s achiev­able but we also know it’s go­ing to be tough to get there,” Motkaluk said.

“So this plan in par­tic­u­lar lays out that col­lab­o­ra­tion. Reach­ing out to our cit­i­zens and stake­hold­ers, but re­ally reach­ing be­yond our bound­aries and wel­com­ing the world and say­ing ‘we are open for busi­ness’.”

As a plan­ning doc­u­ment, the Strate­gic Plan out­lines pri­or­ity fo­cused ini­tia­tives which in­cludes the ar­eas of man­ag­ing city ser­vices; plan­ning, de­vel­op­ing and grow­ing the city; reach­ing out to city res­i­dents with im­proved com­mu­ni­ca­tions; plus de­sign­ing and launch­ing a mes­sage to at­tract growth and de­vel­op­ment.

“The bot­tom line is that if we con­tinue to make our city safer and greener, more cul­tur­ally di­verse for cur­rent res­i­dents, we will all en­joy an ex­cep­tional qual­ity of life. We will be well po­si­tioned to com­pete for the new res­i­den­tial growth go­ing for­ward,” she said.

Motkaluk felt the top ini­tia­tive in the plan is the key fo­cus ar­eas in their plan­ning, de­vel­op­ing and grow­ing ini­tia­tives. In the area of de­vel­op­ing, the plan high­lights key ar­eas of fo­cus in­clud­ing a tourism ini­tia­tive, an eco­nomic di­ver­sity study, re­gional projects, and shared use fa­cil­i­ties. The plan’s growth ini­tia­tives in­clude a res­i­dent re­ten­tion and ex­pan­sion strat­egy, a closer look at hous­ing al­ter­na­tives and in­fill strat­egy, ex­plor­ing sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy op­por­tu­ni­ties, trans­porta­tion, along with a growth strat­egy and eco­nomic growth project.

City Coun­cil’s adop­tion of the Strate­gic Plan comes on the heels to the City learn­ing more about the busi­ness cli­mate in the com­mu­nity through the Busi­ness Re­ten­tion and Ex­pan­sion ini­tia­tive sur­vey. Over 140 businesses pro­vided feed­back to the City, and the col­lected data is now be­ing re­viewed by a statis­ti­cian. The project then moves into the strate­gic plan­ning phase, when the City of Swift Cur­rent, to­gether with its Eco­nomic Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee and the BRE Com­mit­tee will en­gage the busi­ness com­mu­nity in a process that ad­dresses the find­ings and gen­er­ates con­crete strate­gies for eco­nomic pros­per­ity of Swift Cur­rent and the sur­round­ing area.

“We re­ally want to fo­cus on tar­get ar­eas that we be­lieve have a great op­por­tu­nity to grow. So the sur­vey data that the lo­cal businesses have pro­vided us, cou­pled with the statis­ti­cians work, cer­tainly will iden­tity some pri­or­ity ar­eas that we can fo­cus on and wel­come new in­vestors and wel­come new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties. So with more jobs, more in­vest­ment, more op­por­tu­nity, we will grow,” Motkaluk said.

By pro­vid­ing a strong base for this growth strat­egy, Schafer feels the com­mu­nity will be­gin to show pop­u­la­tion growth.

“I don’t think we’ve set any short term num­bers in place. Our fo­cus is just get­ting the Strate­gic Plan in place, and I think start­ing to build on all the dif­fer­ent as­pects within that plan be­cause we think that’s go­ing to be a solid base.”

With the last Sta­tis­tics Canada cen­sus num­bers show­ing a city pop­u­la­tion of 15,503, a 3.7 per cent rise from 2006, Schafer ad­mit­ted they were ini­tially dis­ap­pointed with those to­tals, feel­ing they were short­changed in what were their ac­tual pop­u­la­tion growth num­bers.

“The re­al­ity of it is, it was the first time that our com­mu­nity and our pop­u­la­tion grew in over 60 years if you look at pop­u­la­tion charts. So re­vers­ing a trend like that is a big swing. We’re for­tu­nate. We’ve had great provin­cial mo­men­tum hap­pen­ing. I think the at­ti­tudes in Saskatchew­an are chang­ing. But also the way the rest of the coun­try views us in terms of op­por­tu­nity. We think by build­ing a strong base, which is what the Strate­gic Plan does, that it’s go­ing to give us the op­por­tu­nity to re­ally start to grow our pop­u­la­tion.”

Schafer also high­lighted Swift Cur­rent has a se­ries of ad­van­tages which bode well for fu­ture growth. He pointed to the Great Plains Col­lege in hav­ing an im­por­tant eco­nomic im­pact for the com­mu­nity.

“The growth of the Re­gional Col­lege is a huge im­pact eco­nom­i­cally as well as for grow­ing our pop­u­la­tion and pro­vid­ing an im­por­tant ser­vice,” he said, point­ing out ex­panded pro­grams and ex­pand­ing train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties at Great Plains Col­lege.

With the com­mu­nity al­ready hav­ing made sig­nif­i­cant in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments in a Wa­ter Treat­ment Plant and the Waste Wa­ter Treat­ment Plant, he feels the ad­di­tion of the In­te­grated Fa­cil­ity will also be an im­por­tant amenity and key to additional growth.

“If we’re able to trans­late that into our In­te­grated Fa­cil­ity and have a place that makes us cer­tainly more of a des­ti­na­tion on week­ends, or im­proves the qual­ity of life, that’s why people visit here and that’s why people want to move here.”

A re­port late last month from the Con­fer­ence Board of Canada high­lighted that Regina, Saskatoon, Cal­gary and Ed­mon­ton are poised to lead Cana­dian met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas in eco­nomic growth this year. Schafer feels that Swift Cur­rent needs to po­si­tion them­selves to cap­ture some of that growth.

“From my per­spec­tive, one of the big­gest things that we need to con­tinue fo­cus­ing on in this prov­ince is work­ing to­gether. If Saskatoon and Regina are grow­ing, that’s a good thing for us be­cause that’s cre­at­ing more op­por­tu­nity in the prov­ince as well. We’ve got to do all that we can do to ben­e­fit from their growth and trans­late that into our com­mu­nity.”

Schafer also con­tends that co­op­er­a­tion at all lev­els of gov­ern­ments is an im­por­tant fac­tor in this growth ini­tia­tive.

“It’s go­ing to take a lot of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments in the area. Ob­vi­ously us and the RM of Swift Cur­rent have to work to­gether. Pop­u­la­tion growth in our com­mu­nity is good for the RM of Swift Cur­rent, as well as pop­u­la­tion growth in the RM of Swift Cur­rent is good for us as well. The same goes for businesses com­ing here. If land bet­ter suits them in the RM that’s fine. If land in the City suits them, that’s well too. Co­op­er­a­tion is vi­tal.”

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