Thunder Bay’s Strategic Plan Helps Guide the Way Forward

Thunder BayTHUNDER BAY – Editorial – Today’s announcement from the City that the sale of land for the development of the hotel and condos and business areas at Prince Arthur’s Landing is almost complete is great news. It is news that has been in the works for a long time, and now that it is in the home stretch, will hopefully move past this first step of development on Thunder Bay’s waterfront.

The City of Thunder Bay’s Strategic Plan for the waterfront does not stop with Prince Arthur’s Landing.

“Toward the end of 2011, Phase 1 of Waterfront Development – Prince Arthur’s Landing – will open and enhance our position as a great outdoor adventure City as attention turns to the rest of our 52-kilometre waterfront”.

The strong part of the Strategic Plan is that it allows both City Council, as well as City Administration to have a point of reference for everything that they are doing. At each step forward in our community, Councillors, Administration and residents can stop, and ask where does this fit into our overall planning?

For the Waterfront, the plan offers a great deal of direction.

The Strategic Plan states, “Enhance existing and develop new destination attractions to significantly increase tourism with particular focus on the 52-kilometre waterfront”. Additionally, the Strategic Plan continues, “Update the Multi-Use Trails Master Plan to enhance and interconnect the existing recreational trail system and the 52-km waterfront and to integrate trails in new developments”.

The first steps forward have happened, and are but a start. The Strategic Plan was developed in conjunction with input from over 900 partners including a citizen survey.

Moving forward is going to likely require a lot of input from residents of Thunder Bay, as well as consultation with potential partners as well.

That direction too is covered in the Strategic Plan. The City states they will “Involve citizens more effectively in the decisions of Council”.

This is to be done via the development of a consultation framework and protocol for undertaking enhanced public consultation that is inclusive, meaningful and responsive; As well the City plans to continue to improve two-way communication with residents.

Further, the goal is to update the Community Communications Plan incorporating new forms of communication (e.g. social media) and including the collection of ideas to plan for the City’s 50th Anniversary Celebration which will be held in 2020.

The City of Thunder Bay continues to get better and better all the time at reaching out to engage partners, and consult with residents about what direction our city should be taking. It is both positive and encouraging to see this level of citizen consultation.

While it is entirely likely that no single plan will result in a 100% level of support, it is equally likely that through active consultation, the plan for the rest of the fifty-two kilometres of the waterfront will go forward with greater support than ever.

The Strategic Plan and the planning for the Event Centre which continues with consultants and a series of public meetings should also be considering that the development of the Waterfront is an important part of the direction that Council has set. Planning for other locations, based on outside consultants as well as citizen input however should be stopping every now and again to look at the Strategic Plan to ensure we remain focused on the right overall direction.

That task, if not followed by any one of the participants should be cause for others to holler a loud “Stop” and then re-focus everyone on the overall direction we have set before us as a community.

The Strategic Plan is a living document, and with the right engagement with our residents, Thunder Bay can move forward in a positive and progressive manner.

James Murray
Chief Content Officer