Monday, January 9, 2023

The Rolling Strategic Plan: How it will Help Langley City Council Move Forward

When people run for office, they usually have ideas, policies, and initiatives they want to see implemented. Throughout a term in office, residents and businesses will suggest other items they want Council to address. Council members will also suggest new things they’d like to see implemented throughout the term. There are normally more great ideas than time or resources to implement them. Because of these limitations, most Councils develop strategic plans. These strategic plans help City staff implement the vision of Council and the community.

In Langley City, Council will hold a workshop to gather all ideas, policies, and initiatives and then will work to create a prioritized list of tasks for City staff. Some items from the list will be incorporated into the existing work plans of City staff. An example from a previous strategic plan was to hold regular neighbourhood meetings. Some items are more complex and require further planning before they can be implemented. A current example is the Urban Forest Management Strategy which is actively being developed. Most items require a budget, so the strategic plan is used by City staff to set the budget as well. You can see Langley City’s current strategic plan on the City’s website.

Because priorities can shift over a term in office, Langley City is moving toward a rolling strategic plan. Council will review the plan at least once per year to close out completed items, validate outstanding items that still make sense to complete, and add new items. Council will adopt the rolling strategic plan at least annually at a Council meeting.

In the past, our strategic plan was static and covered four years. If Council wanted to move forward with a new item outside the static strategic plan, Council had to do it via a one-off motion. In the last term, Langley City Council passed several significant one-off motions, including around community safety, reconciliation, and climate action, due to the limation of the previous strategic planning process.

Motions of Council as a healthy part of the democratic process, but too many one-off motions around significant items create uncertainty about what City staff should prioritize. An example of this was the City of Vancouver Council in the last term. That Council’s many one-off motions and limited strategic planning limited its ability to move forward with a vision for its community.

Strategic plans and planning are not sexy and generally don’t generate newspaper headlines. Even so, they are one of the most effective ways for Councils to get things done. It gives city staff clear direction.

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