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2019 Strategic planning session set

Masha Scheele

Hinton Councilors are sitting down together with members of the administration for a facilitated strategic planning session at the end of October.

The session will be held in Hinton and won’t exceed $7500.

Previously, a three-day retreat was planned to take place in Whitecourt, adding up to more than $20,000.

Council asked for a report on the costs and options for the retreat where they will discuss council roles and responsibilities, and review the strategic plan and updates.

The report showed that to stay in Hinton and proceed with a two or three day strategic planning session, costs would be approximately $14,900, if a Town facility was used.

Up to $10,000 of this cost goes to facilitating a two-day session.

At the regular council meeting on Oct. 1, Coun. Ryan Maguhn first spoke in favour of an unfacilitated Strategic Planning Session Retreat to be held in Hinton with a total cost not to exceed $5,000.

“I think that this is something that can be jointly facilitated by both the mayor and the CAO to accomplish just that,” said Maguhn.

Coun. Tyler Waugh asked what the added value of a facilitator would bring to the planning session.

“It’s especially important when you’re first starting your term to have someone from the outside. It’s also important if there’s sticky issues going on, it’s nice to have someone from the outside so they don’t bring in any biases,” responded CAO Martin Taylor.

Coun. Trevor Haas followed up asking if there are any other facilitators locally or within the organization that could accomplish the same goals at a lower cost.

“It’s preferable that a facilitator, either a CAO or a senior staff person, has a background in municipal government,” replied Taylor.

Waugh added that a facilitator might be beneficial to mediate the process of getting on the same page, especially since a brand new senior administration was hired within the past nine months.

“I don’t believe as an organization that we’re firing on all cylinders, whether it’s between council and admin or otherwise. I see a facilitator as an investment in making the most of the next two years,” said Waugh.

Mayor Marcel Michaels added that he preferred the compromised approach of a one-day facilitated session in Hinton not exceeding $7500.

Coun. Albert Ostashek added that having a facilitated session in Hinton is a good compromise between having a facilitator to moderate on tough issues and minimizing the cost by keeping it to one day. 

President of Strategic Steps Inc., Ian McCormack will provide facilitation to review council’s strategic plan, providing an opportunity for a pre-session survey of participants to gauge progress and create dialogue around priorities for the session. 

Whitecourt was first considered to host the retreat as municipalities occasionally hold these sessions outside of their communities to teambuild in an environment with fewer distractions, and to liaise with and learn from a host community comparable in size, demographics or economy.

Feedback collected through public engagement activities will be provided to council at the Oct. 22 standing committee meeting. 

The Strategic Planning Session is scheduled to take place on Oct. 25.

Following this session, administration and the session facilitator, McCormack, will prepare the revisions to the Strategic Plan document and bring the revised document to a Standing Committee Meeting in November for review and discussion, stated the report from Oct. 1.