By Samantha Johnson
On May 27th, the 2022-2025 Strategic Plan was posted to the Town of Bow Island website.
The plan was adopted at the May 24th regular Council meeting. The plan contains the vision, mission, and values of the current Council along with listing nine objectives.
Council started working on the plan in January of this year and it establishes what they wish to achieve over the next four years.
“This is something that Council sets as their strategies and goals that they want to achieve as a Council. Council generally likes to create a new plan after each election,” explained Dave Matz, Chief Administration Officer. The plan will be reviewed annually, at the very least, and is used as guidance for when Council is budgeting and is referred to regularly to ensure the objectives are being met.
“The objectives in the plan are not listed in any order of importance as they are intended to collectively contribute to the growth and success of our community,” said Bow Island’s mayor Gordon Reynolds. “The plan addresses economic development in four of the objectives, quality of life in three and service delivery in two more.”
The twinning of Highway 3 is one of the objectives and Matz explained Council would be lobbying the Provincial Government regarding this. “Twinning of Highway 3 is a well-known priority for this community and Council’s objective is to keep pushing the government for action,” explained Reynolds. “We also need them to understand our concerns about the planned route and the negative impact it could have on the Town.”
Another objective is to advocate for greater health care services within the community.
“Healthcare is a key issue for our Town,” stated Reynolds, “Council is very anxious to see the province move ahead with the proposed SL4 and SL4D continuing care facility they have identified as a priority for Bow Island.”
“Bow Island has been identified as a community that needs an SL4 and SL4D continuing care facility,” said Matz.
Right now, residents must go to Medicine Hat or Lethbridge to access those types of care facilities. Council also wants to play an active role in the Bow Island and Area Healthcare Recruitment Committee as well as assist with recruitment for the Health Advisory Council.
The first objective is to foster an environment that is inclusive and encourages participation of all residents. The Westview Lands Community Engagement is one step towards that, which also ties into the objective to promote orderly development of residential and commercial properties.
“We are currently working on updating our Land-Use Bylaw,” stated Matz.
Updating the bylaw is the first step towards development of residential and commercial properties.
Reynolds added, “community engagement, especially around major projects and initiatives will be an important part of our planning process, right from updating the Land-use Bylaw, to further development in Westview and Centennial Park.”
“One of Council’s objectives is to see the Town grow but we want to ensure that it takes place in an organized manner that meets communities needs for years to come,” continued Reynolds. “Updating the Land-use Bylaw will be an important first step in in reaching that objective.”
Council recognizes that much of the growth in the commercial sector often comes from within the Town. While looking for new business opportunities, it is recognized that the Town must support the retention and expansion of businesses they already have. Strategies towards completing this objective include inviting local business owners to meet with Council once a year, along with identifying businesses that are desirable or needed within the Town and communicating that to Economic Development Partners.
Strategies for providing a variety of recreational opportunities and facilities include increasing the playground structures in Jubilee Park, possibly expanding the capacity of the campground at Centennial Park, and to develop recreational uses at the Westview Retention Pond. “Recreation opportunities are important aspect of a healthy quality of life in a community. Updating some of the recreation facilities is a priority,” stated Reynolds.
“This will be a long-term process and Council requires collaboration with the advisory committee, and input from user groups and the general public.”
Council also wishes to establish a baseline level for Emergency Services, Municipal Enforcement, Road Maintenance, and Waste Collection. It is hoped this objective will be met by 2024.
Reynolds explained, “establishing a baseline level of service for the various departments gives direction to those departments and allows Council and Administration to assess how we are meeting the needs of the community.”
Beautifying and improving the image of the town by, among others, having a clearly defined role for the Tourism Committee, promoting seasonal decoration, and assisting businesses and facilities in promotion is aimed at attracting visitors to the community.
“Attracting visitors to the town can have financial benefits for local businesses and possibly result in new residents or businesses. Marketing and beautification are strategies that may help achieve this objective,” said Reynolds.
The final objective is centred around developing effective employee and volunteer retention and succession programs. While it is the last objective, it certainly isn’t the least, explained Reynolds.
“The Town needs good people to step up and move us forward. We want to avoid volunteer burnout, and certainly want to keep our valuable employees.”