| Mar 03, 2005


Feature article, March 3, 2005

Feature article March 3, 2005

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North Frontenac Council Feb 24, 2005County Strategic Plan

by Jeff Green

(Editors note: Since the discussion of this item at North Frontenac Council, Frontenac County Council has told staff to put a hold on the Strategic Planning process, pay Jim Slavin for what he has thus far done and put whatever money can be recouped from the original $40,000 that was allocated to into a reserve fund, with a view towads completing a stregic plan for the County ambulance service and the Fairmount Home exclusively. There will be more on this in the next issue of the Frotnenac News, and the Newsweb will be updated accordingly next week.)

Jim Slavin, a consultant from Renfrew who works for a firm called the Delfi Group, paid a visit to North Frontenac Council last week as part of Phase 1 of a Strategic Planning Process he has been contracted to facilitate for the County of Frontenac.

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In introducing himself to Council, Slavin said I am not a guru of municipal governance, I am a facilitator. He also said he wanted the County of Frontenac Strategic Plan to avoid what he called the Vinyl Trophy Syndrome, which he explained by citing the example of a hugely expensive 8 inch thick report in the North West Territories that is now being used, literally, as a doorstop.

Up until just under two years ago, the County of Frontenac was known as the Frontenac Management Board. While other counties governments in Ontario had remained intact after municipal amalgamation in 1998, in the case of Frontenac it was decided to maintain a stripped-down structure to act as the upper tier government for four rural townships: North, Central and South Frontenac and the Township of the Frontenac Islands. Two years ago, the Frontenac Management Board became the County of Frontenac.

The County manages the Fairmount Home for the Aged, the Frontenac County Ambulance Service, has a small Economic Development Department, and has extensive dealings with the City of Kingston over shared services, the responsibility for which were downloaded to Kingston from the provincial government.

As part of the Strategic Planning process, Jim Slavin is establishing six priority area tables to determine the strengths and weaknesses of County services in these areas, develop a Vision Statement for the future, and prioritise critical success factors for achieving that vision. The six tables include: Transportation, Administration, Healthy Community, Social Network, Business and Economic Development, and Environmental Well-being.

County staff will be integrally involved in the process, but Slavin came to North Frontenac Council to see if other volunteers could be found who could broaden out the process.

Mayor Ron Maguire referred to one of the difficulties in Township/County relations when he asked Jim Slavin How does a County Strategic Plan have a kind of relevance to each of the townships?

My sense is, Slavin responded, that some issues, such as the water testing issue, for example, are universal.

The County is so vast and diverse, Councillor Betty Hunter said, we dont have phone lines to all of our residents, for example, when closer to the City they are looking at attracting factories. How can one strategic plan address all that difference?

Jim Slavin encouraged Township Staff and Councillors to join the various tables if they could find the time, in that way putting North Frontenacs concerns forward. He described the time commitment as about 10 hours.

Councillors asked if all meetings would be held at the County office, which is located about 90 minutes away for most residents of North Frontenac. Slavin said it might be possible to hold some meetings at more northern locations.

Jim Slavin thanked Council for their time, commenting that he liked the informality of North Frontenac Council.

The Strategic Planning Process had a bit of a rough ride politically earlier in the month.

On February 15, Jim Slavin made a presentation to South Frontenac Council. At that time, South Frontenac Mayor Bill Lake expressed doubt that the strategic planning contract had formally been awarded.

At a County Budget meeting on the next day, the possibility of cancelling the strategic planning process as a cost savings measure was brought forward by Mayor Bill Lake. Lake was informed that the contract had already been awarded to the Delfi group.

As well, County Chief Administrative Officer Elizabeth Fulton said that Fairmount Home and the County Ambulance service were each required, by the Provincial Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, to carry out strategic planning processes this year, and if those were undertaken on their own they would probably cost just as much as the County wide process was going to cost. The money for the process, $40,000, had been allocated in the 2004 County budget and has been carried over to the 2005 budget year.

The Strategic plan is slated for completion by the end of May.

Other items from NF Council

Green Enabling fund application:

An application to a Provincial Green Enabling fund for support in conducting a feasibility study into thermal waste disposal (incineration), a joint venture between North Frontenac and Addington Highlands was filed in November by former County of Frontenac Economic Development Officer Karen Fischer. Council has learned from current Economic Development Officer Dianna Bratina that the application has come back with a request to provide some more information. This was referred to the Waste Management Committee for action.

Task Force on Municipal Halls

In a short written report, Councillor Bud Clayton requested more time to complete the task of seeking public input and preparing a report by February 2005 on the disposition of the Halls. In requesting more time, Clayton wrote, This has developed into an extremely sensitive situation that will take more time.

Clayton told Council he has held meetings in all five Halls and each community has appointed a person or persons to sit on the Task Force. Once again he repeated, There are no plans to close the Halls.

The Task Force was granted 90 more days to complete its work.

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