Nanaimo hires consultant to develop long-term plan for city

Nanaimo – Ladysmith-based Rethink will cost taxpayers more than $100,000.

  • Jan. 24, 2012 8:00 a.m.

Nanaimo council will spend more than $120,000 on a consultant to develop a long-term plan that will help shape the city’s future.

Council voted unanimously Monday to have Ladysmith-based Rethink (West) Inc. assist with the city’s new Strategic Planning Steering Committee, a group tasked with generating a clear community-backed vision for Nanaimo.

The consultant’s hiring comes as several community groups are already beginning to discuss ideas on how the city as a whole should capitalize on opportunities.

The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce recently launched its Successful Cities project, intended to define a framework to put Nanaimo in a competitive economic position.

And last October, a community group hosted the Nanaimo Community Vision Rally, which sought successful social, environmental and economic ideas and vision from other communities that could be applied here.

The city already employs its own official community plan, a guiding document that can be amended to adapt to changing values.

The Strategic Planning Steering Committee, along with Rethink, will attempt to engage all community groups and interested parties to develop a new guiding document that will focus on a long-term vision to complement the OCP.

“It’s perfect timing for this to come through,” said Coun. Jim Kipp, chairman of the committee. “The process will help to align city activities, mobilize available resources and ultimately, to clarify, measure and achieve results in support of community well-being.”

Couns. Diana Johnstone and Ted Greves also sit on the committee. They will be joined by Rethink’s Ken Balmer and Brenda Clarke.

Rethink, founded in 1978, specializes in developing effective governance and crafting communication strategies.

Council had an opportunity to go with a $40,000 basic option that would have taken four months instead of six, while involving less immersion by Rethink and the committee. Instead, it opted for a more intensive process that will include “significant community engagement”, ongoing interviews with community leaders and the formation of task teams to engage leaders in other municipalities.

Rethink’s fees will cost taxpayers $101,400 plus HST, and $20,000 was added to the 2012 budget for facility rentals for the committee to perform its work.

A request for proposals attracted 15 submissions.

Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan said the end result will be a common vision shared by all stakeholders that will move Nanaimo forward by being competitive and attracting business.

“I am looking forward to engaging the community in a visioning process that should reflect the desires and aspirations of all of Nanaimo’s citizens,” said Ruttan. “The only way to do this is to get everyone involved in defining the vision and then supporting it as we move forward into the future.”