The municipality of East Ferris is “progressing well” with their strategic plan, Mayor Pauline Rochefort said, and expects to “achieve most objectives” outlined within.
The plan is a guiding document identifying top priorities within the municipality. Drafted and approved by council in 2019, the plan runs until 2022.
An annual survey was conducted regarding the plan, and comments from the community were gathered to gauge its success.
“Overall, the feedback from citizens was good,” Mayor Rochefort said, “and we thank them very much for that.”
The top priorities outlined in the strategy are growing the local economy, building community, providing good governance, and protecting the environment.
On the local economy, there is room for improvement, as only 33 per cent of business owners felt the municipality’s bylaws and policies offered a business-friendly environment.
This is a slight improvement over 2020, “but more can be done,” the report concludes. The municipality is working on reviewing these polices to “ensure” a more “business-friendly environment.”
They are also examining the need and demand for a farmer’s market and investigating the feasibility of establishing an industrial park on municipal land.
As for building community, 57 per cent of survey respondents “noted they have an adequate or strong sense of belonging to the community.”
To improve these numbers, the municipality is developing a volunteer recognition program. An annual information booklet outlining local recreation programs and events is also in the works.
On the topic of good governance, one respondent mentioned “great social media improvements,” reflecting the municipality’s commitment to engage more with the community via various mediums.
Overall, residents are satisfied with council’s work, with less than four per cent of those surveyed mentioning they are not satisfied with services provided by the municipality.
Part of the positivity comes from recent policy changes, including developing a complaint and service request policy, updating the municipal website, updating the open-air burning law, and developing a communication policy to improve communication with the community.
More plans are in place, including updating the asset management plan, developing a community engagement policy, and revising the procurement and property standards bylaw.
The final pillar of the plan involves the environment, where “the majority of respondents feel that the Municipality has done a good job of communicating recycling needs.”
Other initiatives include organizing an annual community clean up day, educating residents on the benefits of prolonging the life of the landfill, and working on updating environmental studies related to Trout Lake and Lake Nosbonsing.
“There are a lot of successes in here” councillor Erika Lougheed said, “that I want to make sure we’re celebrating” as a municipality.
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.