Draft SDG Counties strategic plan unveiled

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Draft SDG Counties strategic plan unveiled
United Counties of SDG logo.

Nearly a year after taking office, SDG Counties councillors got a first look at the strategic plan that was developed from consultations earlier this summer.

SDG councillors met with consultant Suzanne Gibson to develop  a guiding document for the council during their term late May. The resulting draft was presented before council at their September 18 meeting.

The plan focuses on four strategic priorities with various items covered by each priority.

Under the heading Partnerships and Collaboration, the draft document focuses on the areas of infrastructure, housing priorities, health care – specifically physician recruitment, and staff retention/succession planning for the Counties.

Three areas were listed under Advocacy and Governance – advocacy for lower-tier municipalities with upper levels of government, encouraging collaboration with Cornwall and Akwesasne. Rural education is part of the focus under advocacy, including support for the SDG Rural Education Committee. Lastly, a review of governance, looking at possibly moving from a yearly warden term to a two-year term for warden.

Branding is another priority for the Counties, using “SDG Counties” as its corporate brand throughout all departments and initiatives.

The last of the four priorities in the draft strategic plan is a focus on Green Living in SDG. The plan calls for continued stewardship of Counties-owned forests, long-term sustainability, and marketing the region as “a leader in environmental sustainability.”

Councillors during the meeting offered minor “wordsmith” corrections to the plan.

Councillor Andrew Guindon (South Stormont) clarified that the look at governance included a review of changing the term of warden to a two-year term, which CAO Maureen Adams confirmed.

Councillor Jason Broad (South Dundas) told council he wanted to see a “scorecard” with regular reporting to council. Adams said that there is annual reporting of key accomplishments and that can be adjusted.

The final document will be presented for adoption at a later council meeting.

Also at SDG Council:

It may still be 2023, but SDG Counties staff are planning next year’s budget already. That budget will be presented to Counties Council at a pair of scheduled meetings, December 6 and December 7 (if needed).

Another meeting was scheduled to look at service levels. This stemmed from requests at the August council meeting when councillors agreed to hire more staff for the Transportation Department.

Council will review existing service levels at a Committee of the Whole meeting October 30 to discuss if changes need to be made to services such as snow plowing, roadside mowing, and road conditions.

CAO Maureen Adams said the review would cover all operations of the Counties, but the transportation department would likely take the most amount of time.

Discussions at the COTW meeting may impact upcoming budget deliberations in December.

Council approved a new flag policy, specifying order of preference for flag flying, and rotating individual lower-tier municipal flags depending on who is mayor. The policy added the Chief Administrative Officer as a person who can make discretionary decisions for speciality flags or when flags are half-masted.

This article was originally written for the Morrisburg Leader.

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