Planning for Resiliency

An effective strategic plan is one of the most important tools that a municipality can use to bring together the public, municipal staff and members of Council in the development of a common vision, direction and goals for a community.  
The plan should also function as an evaluation framework against which decisions by Council and staff can be measured. It also enables management and the public to evaluate municipal progress towards the right objective – and that objective should be resiliency and sustainability.   
Resiliency looks different in every community as each municipality has its own economic base and locational risks.  There are internal risks like inadequate business succession planning and external risks like changes in commodity prices or Canadian currency, or emerging disruptive technologies.  More catastrophic risks can include flooding, fire, earthquakes, and terrorism threats.  All these risks and more need to be factored into your strategic planning.  
There is no silver bullet to creating resilience – it is different in every community, and it must be planned for in every case.  Resiliency, economic vibrancy and sustainability don’t just happen without leadership and a plan.  But the plan in itself is not enough.  Staff, local business leaders and provincial staff should have input and be trained on implementation (with regular refreshing).  As they say, the proof is in the pudding – and while one can never predict the future, planning will at least allow you to know which ingredients you need to have on hand!  
Next we look at a Community Case Study in Resiliency
Shawna Lawson (Stonehouse) BComm (UofA), MSc (Planning), EcD is a McSweeney Economic Development Associate Consultant. Shawna began her career in Red Deer and brings over 25 years of economic and business development experience in Alberta, Ontario and overseas (UK and Southeast Asia). She has a proven track record of bringing public and private sector interests together for successful results and project management of complex projects involving several, often conflicting, stakeholders. Over the past few years, Shawna has worked with several struggling communities to diversify their economy and develop their downtowns and image, all while building their internal capacity to carry on development on their own – using tools such as BR+E, Downtown Revitalization, Investment Attraction and data-based strategic planning.  
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