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Residents to have a say in town's future goals, priorities

The town has chosen a variety of interesting locations for its public information centres.
A draft of the SWOT analysis compiled by town staff after meetings with councillors identifies some of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats being taken into consideration by council during development of the Strategic Plan

A vital step in which Niagara-on-the-Lake residents and community stakeholders have say in the development of the current council’s mission and visions, priorities and goals, has begun with a town survey.

Town staff reported their work on council’s Strategic Plan during last week’s committee of the whole meeting, outlining opportunities for public involvement.

Lord Major Gary Zalepa was pleased “that we’re moving to stakeholder engagement next. I’d like to hear what the community has to say. Let’s let the community give us some thoughts and then we’re going to meet back together and go through this and really fine-tune where we want to be.”

The town staff update on work done so far includes drafts of a new mission and vision statement, an evaluation of the town’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (called a SWOT analysis), and a list of potential (as well as current) priorities and goals.

This information was compiled after meetings with town senior management and council members, in which some of the top priorities identified included traffic-calming, maintaining heritage aspects, zoning and bylaw amendments, and short-term housing.

Despite the suggestion by Couns. Wendy Cheropita and Sandra O’Connor that an additional meeting was necessary to review and refine the information collected before receiving public input, councillors voted to receive the report as is in an effort to keep things moving.

With the proposed deadline for the final version of the plan set for July 25, Coun. Nick Ruller said that it would be “detrimental” to try to delay timing of community engagement, because it would “push us into the summer months, where there will be competing interests with staff availability and with young families trying to get in vacations in-between the school years.”

He suggested staying the course, and pointed out that having a completed plan sooner rather than later is important in creating a budget for next year.

The Strategic Plan will set the overall goals for the municipality, as well as lay out a plan to achieve them. It focuses on long-term goals, innovation and priorities, and provides direction to council. The town and council are asking for resident and stakeholder input during the development phase to ensure the plan will reflect and align with the priorities and issues of the community, so that they can deliver services and spend time energy and money accordingly.

The survey on the town website allows residents to provide input into priorities and goals in areas such as transportation, housing and business development; municipal governance; infrastructure development; and the delivery of public services.

The survey also asks residents to suggest any additional priorities that they would like to see considered in the plan. The survey is open until Thursday, June 1, and can be completed online at

Also beginning this week, the town will be setting up public information centres at the following dates and locations where residents can provide feedback and ideas:

• Tuesday, May 23, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the community centre lobby
• Tuesday, May 23, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Queenston Library
• Monday, May 29, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Virgil Sports Park
• Monday, May 29, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Sparky’s Park in St. Davids
• Tuesday, May 30, from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the food court in the Outlet Mall
• Tuesday, May 30, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Court House steps

For those who cannot attend in person, a virtual public information centre will be held on Tuesday, May 30, at 6:30 p.m. To register for the virtual session, email Victoria Steele, the town’s strategy and government relations officer, at [email protected].

Residents should also keep an eye on the town’s social media channels for polls and questions for additional opportunities to provide input.

The town staff update, including a complete list of priorities and the SWOT analysis, can be found on the town’s website at