Sudbury city council aiming to adopt new strategic plan

Ed Archer, Greater Sudbury’s Chief Administrative Officer, says the city’s proposed strategic plan will give both elected officials and senior managers the chance to establish a long-term direction for the municipality.

City hires consultant to help establish road map for success

To ensure that city councillors and senior staff are on the same page, Sudbury is working out the details of a new strategic plan. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

Ed Archer, Greater Sudbury's Chief Administrative Officer, says the city's proposed strategic plan will give both elected officials and senior managers the chance to establish a long-term direction for the municipality.

City council got its first look at what a strategic plan might look like Tuesday night. To help flesh out the details, they enlisted the services of Chris Bart, a retired McMaster University professor and consultant.

Although the plan is in its first stages, Archer said it's important to make sure guidelines are in place for city councillors — both current and future — to help guide the decision-making process and establish direction for councillors and staff.

"It's important to be able to make choices and be confident that those choices reflect the priorities that council's interested in pursuing," Archer said.

The end result should be clear to the taxpayer that their tax dollars are being used wisely.

"What you can anticipate is a clear picture of how services will look and an idea of what levels of service you're going to expect," Archer said. "And if there are opportunities for change...what they look like."

Ed Archer, Sudbury's CAO, says without a clear strategic plan to guide the city, 'everything is a priority.' (CBC)

Bart, the consultant hired to work with the city — at a cost of $60,000 — said the danger of not having a clear plan to consult results in chaos, something he's seen in other municipalities.

"It comes down to a very famous phrase 'those who fail to plan, plan to fail'," Bart said.

"Without some sense of where the organization wants to get to and how it hopes to get there, then you're basically allowing the natural state of an organization to to occur — which is chaos and confusion," he said.

Bart said he was also impressed with Sudbury's last iteration of council — of which 10 members are returning— who saw the need to call in outside help to establish the strategic plan.

"To their credit, they really grabbed strategic planning by the by the horns and said 'you know we really need to do something rather than just drifting along and hoping things are going to work out.'"

"I think the other thing is is that there is a certain amount of maturity and wisdom that comes with realizing that we have a lot of smart people in this organization," Bart said. "But we'll make it a lot easier on ourselves if we bring in some outside help to guide us through the process."

Bart said many private sector corporations recognize the same need to bring fresh perspectives to the organization. Part of that may be just to avoid inevitable clashes of egos around the boardroom table.

In the end, Bart adds that taxpayers will see the value of hiring an outside consultant.

"Yes it can be expensive but the end result is that it's cheap in the long run," he said.

Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland says he thinks it's a good thing that city staffers and councillors will be collaborating on a strategic plan. (Casey Stranges CBC)

Coun. Geoff McCausland, who is serving his first term representing Ward 4, said he was impressed with Bart's message, but doesn't want the push for the plan to exclude any of his constituents.

"When I was going door-to-door during the election campaign one of the main things I realized was that a lot of people just wanted to be heard," McCausland said.

"And I feel like in order to have stakeholder buy-in and have the community be on board with this whole session and to legitimize it we need to ensure that there are those avenues for public consultation."

The city said it will mobilize its communications teams to get the message of the new plan out to residents, once a clear mission statement has been created.

Concerns aside, McCausland said getting both managers and councillors to think about their collective roles and duties will help in the long term.

"I thought it was great to lay common framework for us to get on the same page, understanding the same priorities, understanding the systems that we're going to have to develop so that we can move forward in an effective way," McCausland said.

In March, a two-day session facilitated by Bart will be held with city councillors to discuss the plan.

The first draft is expected to be ready in April, and council is planning on approving the final strategic plan by June 25.