“To achieve Niagara’s true potential, we must forge the next phase of Niagara’s path together. As Niagara Region launches“Shape Niagara”, the largest strategic consultation effort in Niagara’s history, we must be bold. … Regional Council looks forward to residents, businesses, and community organizations seizing the opportunity to provide input on how they would like to shape the exciting future of Niagara.” ~ Alan Caslin, Niagara Regional Chair
A News Release from Niagara, Ontario’s regional government
Posted March 28th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – Starting today (this passing Wednesday, March 28th) , Niagara Region is inviting residents, businesses and community leaders to share how they would like to “Shape Niagara” by providing their ideas and feedback about what should be included in Council’s next strategic plan.
Feedback shared with the Region will form part of a background study that will inform the next term of Council’s strategic plan deliberations.
The Region’s Strategic Plan is a significant document that underpins all of the activities undertaken by the organization. The plan guides which projects and actions staff will work on, what is considered a priority and how best to resource these activities. Council’s next strategic plan will run from 2019 until 2022.
In previous years, items on the strategic plan have been completed include securing Daily GO Train service, inter-municipal transit expansion, reducing Ontario Works caseload, growing our population by 10,000 residents and completing vital master plans for transportation and water & wastewater services.
Residents, businesses and community leaders will have numerous opportunities to participate in the “Shape Niagara” process, including:
- Attending one of five public open houses held throughout the region between May and June
- Visiting www.niagararegion.ca/ShapeNiagara to provide feedback online about their priority
- Leaving a comment on social media using the hashtag #ShapeNiagara
Regional staff will be attending local community events throughout the summer to promote the campaign and collect responses.
Feedback will also be collected through a statistically valid telephone survey and third-party moderated focus groups. Additionally, staff will also be re-examining all of the public engagement that took place over the last four years to identify reoccurring themes.
The themes identified through this process will be analyzed by Regional staff and used to provide the 2019 – 2022 term of Regional Council with information they can use when developing their strategic plan. It is anticipated that the final plan will be approved by council in early next year.
A Brief Commentary on the above News Release by Niagara At Larger reporter and publisher Doug Draper
So what do we make of this March 28th media release? And how should members of the public across the region respond to it?
Here is my take, and please feel free to share your views at the end, even if you disagree with some or all that I am about to say.
Let me start with a reminder that here we now are, only six months away from this coming October’s municipal elections. And all of a sudden, right now Caslin and company are starting consultation process – the “largest” of its kind in the regional government’s almost 50 year history, no less – on a strategic plan for Niagara, for the next four years?
For a next four years that will hopefully see a regional council with fewer individuals who will never benefit from lessons in civility and civics, and one without Caslin, interrupting those he doesn’t want to hear with is ‘you’re out of order’ torpedoes, at the helm.
I don’t know if Caslin and his cronies have been putting a wet finger to the air to see which way the wind is blowing lately, but there seem to be quite a few people across this region who wants to see some significant changes in the makeup of regional council, come election time this fall.
Many of the same people have long lost confidence in this Caslin administration as an agent for progressive change that benefits all Niagara residents and the urban, rural and natural places we want to see protected and enhanced for present and future generations across this region, well into the 21st century.
The Caslin administration, with a ‘we’re open for business’ mantra that is code for deregulated, car dependent urban sprawl, with little more than a passing glance to public transit or protecting what is left of Niagara’s natural heritage, is stuck in the post-Second World War 1950s when a litre of gas cost nickels and dimes, and asphalt was poured as if the land underneath was unlimited.
It was only weeks ago that some of Caslin’s cronies stood up at a regional council meeting and took pokes at those who, during the last term of regional council when Gary Burroughs was still chair, sat on the Region’s police services board and decided, just shortly before the 2014 municipal elections, to extend the contract of now ex-Niagara Regional Police Chief Jeffrey McGuire for another two or three years.
Any decision like that should have waited until a new regional councillor and police services board was sworn in, some of Caslin’s pals on the current council said.
And that was a contract for one senior public servant that they were talking about.
What we are talking about here is nothing less than a strategic plan for shaping the future of our whole Niagara region for the next four years, and possibly well into the next two or three decades or more!
Given what little time is now left for this Caslin administration and a citizens campaign that is now out there and growing to accomplish significant change this coming October in the makeup of regional council for 2019 to 2013, that new council should be granted the opportunity to make a fresh start.
That start should include working in consultation with members of the public, and as many public and private stakeholders as possible, to develop and implement a plan that makes way for a health, prosperous future for all who live, play and do business in Niagara through the 21st century.
The Caslin cabal has already had more than enough shots and we don’t need any more public displays or other antics, paid for with our tax money, this late in the game in an election year.
There are a good number of us out here who are now counting the months and weeks and day until this October’s municipal election.
Enough is enough!
STAY TUNED for Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper’s commentary on Niagara regional chair Al Caslin’s ‘State of the Region’ Address in Niagara Falls, Ontario this Wednesday, March 28th.
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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders