There is no question that we are in a unique position and on the verge of positive change, including unprecedented positive public opinion, in the parks and open space system. For municipalities, this is a time that can be foundational for new urban strategies in realignment, due to: bold changes in operational service delivery demands, an increased awareness on environmental initiatives, and an increased focus on engaging stakeholders in developing positive policies for future capital developments.
In 2016 and beyond, Municipalities of all sizes and configurations will need to develop the ability to respond to continuing growth pressures, a changing operating environment, new initiatives and emerging trends. These changes require a planning and strategic process that combines the resources of the Corporation, community, and other business partners.
Typically prior to creating that new vision or strategy there is an incentive for change. In my discussions and experiences with municipalities - both from within and as a service provider - some standard themes are emerging. Our inability to adequately plan for projects stems from: inaccurate costing, poor resource allocation, inability to properly prioritize projects, and low stakeholder engagement; which has led to divisional discord.
Standard methodologies for resolving these issues surround establishing a baseline around the usual suspects (financial and non-financial considerations); which have a common theme. The information base is often filled with historical data, which has not been (recently) verified. Garbage in, Garbage out is still at work here. What's missing is a contextual framework for determining the appropriate project mix.
Not surprisingly, the solution lies in our ability to engage - at all levels. In 2016 that sounds a little trite. However, It's our ability to become early adopters with cross-jurisdictional stakeholders; including those whose interests seem at cross-purposes to our own, that will determine the strength and ultimate success of any re-defined priority plan.
We propose the following methodology:
1. Create the vision and expected outcomes
2. Ensure that the baseline data is current and relevant
3. Ensure that your process is heavily weighted with consultations
4. Understand the capacity of your business process
5. Redefine roles and responsibilities to support the new vision
6. Rinse and repeat