City outlines new strategic plan

The City of Estevan wants everyone to know its vision for “Our Estevan.”

The City has been developing a corporate strategic plan and at the regular council meeting on Jan. 5, the plan, dubbed Our Estevan, was laid out.

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The plan has been designed to aid the City in planning over the next five years through 2019 and will be an all-encompassing document. It will provide guidance on all aspects of City management, from internal and external communications to electronic work orders and establishing quality control parameters for infrastructure projects.

City Manager Amber Smale said one aspect in particular is the focus on human resources.

“People are often overlooked, but you can’t do anything without them,” she said. “They are your asset and you’ve got to treat them like they are your asset. I’m fully supportive of staff development and training and leadership. Without that, there’s no motivation.”

In the fall of 2013, the City retained the services of HJ Linnen Associates of Regina to co-ordinate and the City’s corporate strategic planning process. That process included a preliminary planning and research phase prior to consultation with community leaders, city council, and City management and the unions as well as workshops with council and City managers to create a new vision for Estevan and strategic priorities. The final draft plan is now being presented to management, council and community leaders.

“They developed a process they wanted to take us through in actually coming to some clearer understanding and some goal setting around what we needed to do as a corporation,” said Smale.

What the City originally planned on doing was to create a community plan, but the decision was made to explore what the City should be doing corporately.

“It became obvious that we all have the same viewpoints of what we needed to do,” Smale said about the various managers at the City. “Consensus came very quickly.”

From that consensus, HJ Linnen developed some themes for the City to base the five-year vision. That is further broken down into goals for each vision and what activities will support those individual goals.

“I like to refer to it as a living document. It’s not set in stone. It’s going to change over time. I’m really taking implementation of it on an annual basis, what we can achieve based on our resources,” said the city manager.

The City will be following their progress on the balanced scorecard that includes non-financial performance markers.

“I want it to be results oriented. I’m not a target person,” said Smale. “I want to see that we’ve actually achieved the outcome.”

That vision consists of four strategic pillars: communication, finance, human resources and infrastructure.

The goals within the pillars note “We will build a comprehensive communications and engagement culture that is proactive, effective and responsive to the organization and people of Estevan; we will develop and maintain an operationally sustainable financial system; we will optimize the personnel capacity of the City of Estevan; We will develop a comprehensive infrastructure management and renewal system.”

“A lot of what the City needs right now is foundational pieces, the policies and the processes in place that we can work from,” said Smale after Monday’s council meeting.

For 2015, that will mean the focus is on developing those policies, and Smale said there will be particular focus on financial operation.

As she pointed out, “That’s what’s going to drive our ability to deliver on the other ones.”

And changes will be seen almost starting immediately with the release of the 2015 budget this month.

“There’s a lot of information with this budget, and it’s going to be handled quite a bit differently than it has been in the past. It’s developed around the strategic plan. It outlines the objectives that we’re going with for this year,” noted Smale.

She added, there will be no budget implications for 2015, and she said they will be inviting the public to participate in the budget process in an open meeting later this month.

What the City will be exploring in the first year of the plan is developing and sustaining an operationally sustainable financial system, optimizing personnel capacity of the City of Estevan, building a comprehensive communications and engagement cultures that is proactive, effective and responsive to the organization and people of Estevan and developing an infrastructure management and renewal system.

The City began a corporate re-organization last summer and that began with the City defining what their core services are and what activities support those core services.

“Our next step then is developing the roles and responsibilities that go with those activities and then re-aligning our resources to go with that,” said Smale. “A lot of what we do doing the corporate re-organization will feed into those other elements of the plan.”

She explained, the process mapping will feed into their work order system, which will in turn feed into the way they communicate internally. Externally, Smale said she wants to centralize information so there is a freer flow of information to the public and red tape is eliminated.

That will begin with this year’s budget, which Smale said follows more of a public consultation model.

She said there will be a good test for the City in how they consult with the public because next year they will be looking at developing an official community plan, something noted was more than just a land-use planning document.

“It’s really, across other cities in Canada, it’s grown to be that official plan, whether it’s arts, culture, entertainment, recreation. It’s more encompassing than just how we do land development,” said Smale. 

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