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Councillors to decide on top five strategic plan priorities

By Ross Lees
Prince Edward County council is preparing to take final steps to map out a course for the remainder of its term.
After a full day of strategic planning Monday in Wellington, council will decide its five priority actions before the plan is sent to staff for development into a strategic plan for the next four years.
Mayor Peter Mertens called Monday an “excellent, productive day” which puts them a step closer to establishing what he calls “a very achievable” strategic plan.
“We just have to put the goals into context, put them into the hopper and then come up with our strategic plan for the next three or four years,” he said.
Council first established its vision for the term. After much discussion their vision’s wording became: “Prince Edward County is a progressive, inclusive rural community embracing innovation and providing opportunities while respecting its rich heritage.”
What they did not discuss in detail was economic development in view of the departure of economic development officer Dan Taylor who is now plying his trade in Peterborough. Council acknowledged it was a major issue – so much so, in fact, they believe it must be the topic of a meeting of its own sometime in the not too distant future.
“It is critical for us as a council to decide what we want for our economic strategy before we hire a new economic development officer,” said Mertens.
At a meeting in January, council determined 10 key strategic issues which included the environment, recreation, employment, infrastructure, council and administration, quality of life, growth, finances, volunteerism, and heritage.
Visionary objectives stemming from those issues included:
Increase stable, measurable, year round employment opportunities
Create a healthy environment through improved land, water and air quality
Manage growth and its impacts
Preserve and promote the County’s culture, identity and quality of life
Facilitate quality recreational opportunities for people of all ages and physical abilities
Provide an efficient, effective and responsive municipal government
Sustainable transportation infrastructure in place
From these objectives, council established 26 strategic actions which included the creation of an economic development strategy, promote and invest in the provision of up-to-date internet and telecommunication infrastructure, identify energy creation and conservation opportunities, develop shore land management plans, complete the update of the official plan and secondary plans for Picton-Hallowell, Rossmore and Wellington and and prepare a new secondary plan for Bloomfield, Carrying Place, Wellers Bay and Consecon, implement an affordable housing strategy, implement a strategy for enhanced protection of built heritage, develop a recreation master plan, undertake a public process to review the composition of council, explore opportunities to streamline the development approvals process, develop a long-term financial plan and related policies consistent with the strategic plan, research traffic management tools to relieve traffic congestion in downtown Picton, and develop a plan  to provide safe biking, rollerblade and skateboard paths and develop criteria for determining the construction priority roads list.
As his final instruction for the day, Mertens told councillors they would have to choose from the 26 strategic actions the five most important, and instead of trying to do that at the end of the strategic planning session with several councillors absent, it was decided the actions would be listed by the clerk then emailed to each councillor. They are to pick their five most important actions, then email them back to staff. The top five are to be established in time for the committee of the whole meeting Thursday, May 12.

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