Terry Miller

Terry Miller

Hooray and hallelujah.

Brampton city council has finally embarked with serious intent on the Strategic Plan. Promised for years, the mayor and city council have finally started the strategic planning process for the next two decades and we should congratulate them for getting started. But it’s difficult to understand how any municipality in the GTA can have a workable strategic plan for 25 years. Five would seem more doable.

The Strategic Plan outline laid out in a public pamphlet, soon to come to your door, indicates three phases to the plan, a final town hall meeting and a final kick of the can… passage by city council sometime in the late fall 2013. Although the plan starts with Brampton staff, it relies on the people of Brampton for ideas about the future.

The public pamphlet says that after discussion in Phase 1 with stakeholders and Phase 2— a 1,000 person telephone survey— Brampton council and staff narrowed the focus to five topics:

• economic development;

• growth management;

• environmental stewardship;

• community engagement;

and corporate excellence.

The pamphlet says that Phase 3 will have five meetings and that’s where you come in. The public meetings in your ward need you to help plan the city’s future.

The Mississauga Summit strategic planning exercise, recently completed, involved interested community members organizing multi-level groups to investigate and present ideas about the future of that growing diverse community. In Mississauga, the summit struck five task force groups to report on various aspects of future life there.

Brampton could have easily replicated those task forces and it may still. The process starts in June and ends in Nov/Dec. Right now, the public is involved sparsely, one meeting in each ward and a council meeting. There is no mention about follow-up or what happens to the information gleaned from those meetings. Maybe those points will be clarified at the ward public meetings.

Ten years ago Brampton was a different place. Today it has over 535,000 people and population density and diversity is different. Questions about the pace and rate of development and the need to consult the public on how to provide capital for the long term are not part of the themes yet.

Brampton will need to go out to the market and raise $1.1 billion for 2012-2016 and an additional $973.7 million for 2017-2021.

Development charges and internal borrowing from reserve funds won’t be enough to carry this cost.

So far, it looks like the Strategic Plan priorities are set for the status quo with lofty statements about what is and not what needs to be.

There appears to be no discussion about what to do when development ends and green fields are turned into pavement and housing… when development funds dry up. Hopefully those discussions are still to come.

A strategic plan needs to be just that, strategic. It needs to be tactical, calculated and purposeful. It has to be flexible to bend with the changing tide of political economics and measured to accomplish readily achievable goals.

So, as the process starts, folks need to, from the beginning, start to define the process, not by allowing the Strategic Plan to be a staff or council process alone, but one that genuinely turns the aspirations, hopes and intelligent design of the people of this city into an intentional plan for the next five or possibly 10 years. But to do that, we all need to show up at our ward Strategic Plan meeting and participate in the discussion.;