County council prepares for full day of strategic planning next week

Adam Bramburger
Beaver Staff

Discussions and decisions March 21 at the County Courthouse could shape the way Lennox and Addington is governed over the next four years and impact a generation.

The newly elected County council will participate in eight hours of strategic planning a visioning with the aid of an external facilitator. The councillors will have their chance to weigh on as the County’s staff in each department analyzed its priorities using an assessment of its perceived strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Chief administrative officer Brenda Orchard said it’s an important process.

“I think it’s really exciting, especially with a new council. They have different priorities and they want us to work on different things,” she said. “I expect they’re going to want to talk about libraries, physician recruitment, and the paramedics enhancement plan.”

There will also be some discussion around a space crunch at the County Courthouse facility and a need to better utilize space. Of particular interest, council might decide what to do with the Cartwright building, the historic jailer’s home, which now sits vacant on the campus.

“We maintain it, but there’s nothing in it. It’s not in great shape inside,” Orchard said.

Orchard said with each department, staff will be asked to evaluate whether staff have identified the right priorities, which services are most needed and valued, where enhanced services might be required, and how those decisions align with a 20-year vision for local governance.

According to the chief executive officer, attention to detail has been a priority.

“You can see from each of the departments we want it to be very clear. I’m not one for vague strategic plan statements. I like things that are very clear for each department to know what is expected of them for council to understand,” she said, adding the County actively engaged staff beyond the upper management ranks to get a clear picture of what frontline staff are experiencing.

“It’s important to include staff in the SWOT analyses and in most cases, we’ve included every staff person in the department,” she said. “I think there’s value in that and in staff being heard and council really understanding what staff think are the challenges.”

The priorities set will be referred to throughout the years as a means of council and staff affirming that they’re progressing with their business as intended.

The department priorities going into the session are as follows…

– In corporate services and administration, the County wishes to develop employee engagement action plans, improve internal communications, co-ordinate health and safety, and clarify the County’s role in emergency situations.

– In economic development, staff wishes to become a “first-stop shop” for business attraction, growth and coaching; identify marketing opportunities using the Naturally L&A brand to attract investment;  enable local businesses to access provincial and federal grant programs without competing with neighbouring communities; to be the tourism destination marketing organization for the County and support lower-tier municipalities in attraction; and assist local businesses with training and development.

– In emergency services, staff hopes to enhance the relationship between labour and management; increase frontline supervision, and build a base in Loyalist Township.

– For financial services, staff hopes to continue to update an asset management strategy and develop financing strategies; review space needs and records management practices to allow for easy access and security; and review the County’s investment portfolio and consider regulations that allow the potential for higher-yield, higher-risk investment.

– Human resources staff plans to focus on succession planning, leadership development, and using  human resources information system software to enhance recruitment.

– Information technology staff will look at ways to develop better disaster recovery and business continuity; use GPS systems in planning and to support civic addressing; enhance security; and investigate connectivity and shared services for lower-tier municipalities.

– The John M. Parrott Centre intends to make staff recruitment and retention a priority through all departments in the home; consider succession management; act on employee engagement; and develop enhanced skills through education and training.

– The County’s libraries will look to develop ownership models in light of a 2016 services review, rebrand to promote services and expand patron base; identify staff skills and training requirements to respond to information, learning and entertainment needs; and provide necessary infrastructure for new technology and experiential learning in all branches.

– The County Museum and Archives will also look to develop its brand as a cultural centre that provides history, heritage, exhibits, art and music to the community; implement new technology to begin long-term digitization of its collections; review collection needs gaps, storage, and inventory; and redesign and renovate the museum’s lower courtyard and Gibbard exhibit area.

– Property services staff will look to improve infrastructure by reviewing a recent housing revitalization study and developing a plan to meet departmental space requirements; work toward improved energy efficiency in County properties; and improve records management through a revised asset management plan, a GIS database of assets and digitizing records.

– For provincial offences, staff hope to review space needs and records management; work with the Province and Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus to update database software; and continue to work with enforcement agencies to understand changes that may impact revenues and expenses.

– For roads and bridges, staff will update the asset management plan and determine standards to be met in long-term capital planning; review practices and funding models that would help with more efficient upkeep of roads; consider the reconstruction of County Rd. 4 and intersection improvements at County Rds. 1 and 10, 6 and 23, 23 and 24 and at Dundas, Alma and Bridge Streets in Napanee; and work on records management.

– Lastly, Prince Edward-Lennox and Addington Social Services staff would develop strategies to address aging and limited housing stock; address the recent reduction of community supports, including mental health; respond to provincial policy and regulation changes in all areas; and train staff to meet modernized service delivery strategies.

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