A new strategic plan for Big Lakes County has set several priorities to attract more residents and businesses and have more efficiency.
At its regular meeting Oct. 11, council adopted the 2023-30 strategic plan that was discussed at a planning retreat in June.
Interim CAO David Reynolds says the proposed plan was drafted after two days of deliberation by council and administration June 5-6.
“Council and administration agreed on four pillars that contain our strategic goals which make the strategic plan unique to Big Lakes County,” Reynolds says.
Those pillars by priority are:
- Livable and affordable county.
- Fiscal responsibility.
- Good governance.
The document states county council and administration are committed to build the long-term viability of the County.
“By identifying and addressing the unique and changing needs of our rural community, we are committed to nurturing growth, maintaining fiscal responsibility and upholding good governance principles, all with a view towards creating a livable county,” the document states.
Council started to discuss the plan on the premise that such a plan needs to be a collaborative effort between council and administration, Reynolds says.
“We are committed to expand possibilities for all residents of Big Lakes County to become actively involved in its further development and implementation,” says Reynolds.
North Gilwood – Triangle Councillor Jim Zabolotniuk says it’s important to promote the plan to residents as it progresses.
“As we move forward on the plan, we need to increase communication,” Reynolds says.
“It has to go everywhere.”
At the planning session, council and administration also set steps how the County and community can achieve those goals. Steps were set in priority and with timelines.
- Review and update the budget reserve policy.
- Create a county-wide asset management system.
- Improve the level of service plan system.
- Create a marketing plan to attract and retain residents.
- Improve political advocacy.
- Create strategic partnerships for affordable housing.
- Create a resident satisfaction measurement.
- Promote green initiatives.
The report states the plan is a living document and is open to further revise and adapt as the county moves forward with the plan.
“Our hope is that the document is used as a starting point to engage other stakeholders including residents, businesses, and all levels of government in helping us achieve our long-term goals,” the document states.
“As a rural municipality, we recognize the unique challenges faced by our community and the importance of addressing them strategically to ensure a vibrant and sustainable future.”
The document states the mission and vision of the County.
“Big Lakes County is dedicated to strengthen an environment of opportunity, affordability and a great community to call home,” the plan states.
“We are committed to create a space where individuals and families can thrive, businesses can grow and our community can flourish.
“We envision a future where Big Lakes County is recognized as a region of boundless opportunities, affordable living and a welcoming community that people are proud to call home.”
A regional approach with the Town of High Prairie and other nearby communities is also vital to the future of Big Lakes, the plan states.
“Strategic planning encourages collaboration and co-operation among neighbouring rural municipalities, fostering regional development,” the document states.
“By identifying shared goals and collaborating on initiatives, rural communities can pool their resources and expertise, leveraging collective strengths for the benefit of all.
“Strategic planning helps identify opportunities for joint infrastructure projects, resource sharing and co-ordinated economic development efforts, leading to more efficient and more effective outcomes.
“This regional approach to strategic planning facilitates sustainable growth and enhances the overall resilience and prosperity of rural areas.
“Strategic planning also stimulates other strategic partnerships, such as with the private sector and industrial partners, which can lead to significant improvement in economic development and improvement.”