Nanaimo hires consultant to review strategic plan

NANAIMO – City councillors will review spending priorities, successes and challenges associated with its first ever strategic plan.

Nanaimo city council will reconsider spending priorities in its first-ever strategic plan, during a one-year review this fall.

The City of Nanaimo plans to hire Ladysmith-based consulting firm Rethink to lead a $3,000 review of its corporate strategic plan.

City council released the $121,400 document detailing the municipality’s new mission, values and spending priorities last year, with aims to review its progress every year.

Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan said he believes the City of Nanaimo has done “reasonably well” at hitting the main points of its new corporate vision, moving ahead on projects like supportive housing and the conference centre hotel despite challenges around the Colliery dams and turnover of the city’s top bureaucrat. Now at the one-year mark, it’s important to look at overall accomplishments, councils’ satisfaction with the plan and the potential need to change priorities, he said.

Ruttan was hoping to go on a local retreat this fall with council members and new city manager, Ted Swabey, to have an informal talk about whether politicians are still OK with the direction charted for the community. But hiring a consultant to facilitate a review will be much the same thing, he said.

Not everyone is on board with the move to hire an “outsider” to review the city’s progress, including councillors Bill Bestwick and Jim Kipp, who believe the city can save money by doing the job in-house. But Ruttan – and others – points out that it could be valuable to get an unbiased  perspective from Rethink, the original consultant.

“We invested a great deal of money in this program and I think we have had, what I believe to be, very good results,” Ruttan said. “To me, getting the person who developed [the strategic plan] and oversaw the program give us an unbiased third party evaluation … is important.”

Coun. Fred Pattje also believes it’s a good move to seek an outside view on whether the city is on the right track.

“Of particular importance to me … [is the] recommendation of the governance study to ensure alignment between councillors on key issues and alignment between council and city staff – that alignment I think requires an outside person,” he said.

No date has been set for the review.