Municipal Strategic Planning
WHAT ARE THE SPECIFICITIES OF MUNICIPAL STRATEGIC PLANNING?
Through the process of strategic planning, municipalities (cities, villages, parishes, townships, etc.) and Regional County Municipalities (RCMs) establish a vision for the development of their territory, identify their priority issues, define their directions and prioritize projects to be undertaken in the coming years.
Through this process, they address or resolve certain specific issues, such as an aging population, workforce attraction, mobility improvement, strengthening citizens’ sense of belonging, industrial and commercial revitalization, or organizational transformation of the municipal structure.
WHAT ARE THE STEPS OF MUNICIPAL STRATEGIC PLANNING?
With Espace Stratégies, the municipal strategic planning process unfolds in 5 steps:
- Analysis of existing documents
The work begins with a thorough analysis of the context: socio-demographic profile, economic overview, previous strategic plans, various sectoral strategies, etc.
This phase helps grasp the different elements of the territory and enrich the understanding of its social, economic, and cultural characteristics.
Municipal strategic planning involves numerous and varied stakeholders. Citizens, community organizations, businesses located in the territory (sometimes referred to as corporate citizens), institutional partners, as well as the political body (elected officials from the municipal council or RCM council) and administrative staff, are consulted.
The interests of stakeholders in a territory may sometimes diverge, and it is essential to gather their views on the current situation of the municipality or RCM, their daily challenges and their wishes regarding projects to undertake. The success of a strategic planning exercise lies in converging these interests to achieve a common vision of development.
Strategic reflection is based on the elements gathered during consultations. A funnel process begins, as this is the moment when choices are made, priorities are defined, and a strategic alignment of consultation elements takes place. With Espace Stratégies, the central elements to be questioned include:
- Strategic identity, which involves asking what characterizes the territory and differentiates it from others;
- Vision, which allows questioning “where do we want to be” within a time horizon of 5 to 10 years;
- Strategic orientations and axes, which will clearly define the priorities of municipal strategic planning. This step is done in collaboration with a smaller group of stakeholders, especially those internal to the municipality.
Moreover, during a strategic planning exercise, a municipality or MRC may continue to pursue a previously defined development vision that spans multiple strategic plans or adopt a new development vision.
- Drafting the strategic plan
- Development of an action plan
The action plan allows the municipality to determine the next steps to be taken and link indicators, which can be results, success, or implementation indicators, to specific actions. The strategic reflection process then results in an action plan that includes the main transformation and development projects associated with objectives and monitoring indicators, spread over a specified period.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO CONDUCT MUNICIPAL STRATEGIC PLANNING?
There is no standard. Generally, municipalities opt for a three-year or five-year strategy. In rare cases, especially for large cities that need to project further, municipal strategic planning can cover the next 10 years. Communication issues sometimes come into play to respect certain symbolic milestones (e.g., planning for 2020-2030 with round numbers).
HOW LONG DOES THIS PROCESS TAKE?
The realization of municipal strategic planning takes an average of 4 to 6 months. Its duration depends largely on the size of the municipality or RCM, regional context (such as previous experience with strategic consultation) and the type and number of consultations conducted.
HOW CAN ESPACE STRATÉGIES ASSIST YOU?
Having assisted several cities and RCMs, we have extensive experience in municipal strategic planning. We understand its specificities and the entire ecosystem to consider.
We are recognized for our mastery of the consultation process, an often complex stage in carrying out strategic planning. It requires both creativity—to reach all audiences—and great political acumen. Our approach, focused on collaboration, co-creation and cooperation, promotes the consideration and convergence of all expressed voices.
We offer tailored support based on the size of your strategic planning project and the budget available to carry it out.
To address various growth themes, Espace Stratégies offers several consulting services. In the case of municipal strategic planning, the most relevant services include:
City of Cowansville
Located in the heart of the Brome-Missisquoi RCM, Cowansville is a significant regional hub. With the expiration of the city’s strategic plan in 2023, it sought Espace Stratégies to assist in a thorough review of its planning and the development of a new strategic plan. This new plan will guide the actions of current and future elected officials and leaders.
The Papineau RCM is composed of 25 municipalities spread over a vast territory. Facing changes in its institutional environment, the RCM enlisted Espace Stratégies’ services to assist in its strategic planning process. The objectives were to define a common vision for the territory’s development; identify upcoming needs and challenges; formulate orientations and targets to be achieved in the coming years; and develop a plan to promote community development.
Municipality of Saint-Sulpice
Following the recent municipal elections, the new Saint-Sulpice council decided to launch its first strategic planning exercise (covering 2023 to 2028). The municipality invited Espace Stratégies to support them in this process. The result is the outcome of a co-creation process that engaged all members of the municipal council and numerous employees and citizens of the municipality.