Maybe a strategic plan will be just what this city council needs.
In the coming weeks, Nanaimo councillors will sit down and try to agree on an official strategic plan that can then guide decision-making such as budgeting.
The strategic plan itself, really, has more symbolic than actual value, as it will be carefully worded in the most general of terms. One of the items in the last plan, for example, was “taking responsibility to be an excellent municipal government.”
But maybe the strategic plan’s beauty lies in its simplicity. It’s up for debate whether this council has been excellent, but surely councillors can come to unanimous agreement that excellence is a good and worthy goal.
The challenge of a strategic plan is that each councillor, individually, has – and should have – his or her own views on priorities for the City of Nanaimo. Councillors made various promises to voters leading up to last fall’s municipal election. One councillor’s priorities might not align with another’s, and there’s nothing wrong with that in a democracy. With that in mind, a strategic plan might identify some priorities that are shared among all councillors, and therefore, are quite likely in the best interests of Nanaimo. A strategic plan can provide a sense of what’s achievable, and small victories, co-operative ones, will be appreciated when council’s workings get inevitably gummed up by stickier situations.
Probably it shouldn’t have taken a year to come up with a strategic plan. Perhaps, moving forward, planning should be accepted practice for any incoming council, a simple project that councillors can get started on right away with limited friction as they work their way up to more divisive issues.
Of course things won’t always go according to plan, and when that happens, well, there just so happens to be a contingency plan: be excellent.