Promotion and awareness, business and retail attraction, infrastructure improvements, a recreation review and advocacy for township-wide broadband were among key areas the council identified at the meeting with consultants MDB Insight on Tuesday. The suggestions, while non-binding, were designed to provide the consultants with areas to further the township’s strategic plan later this year.
The township contracted MBD Insight to develop a corporate and economic development plan in November last year. According to the township’s website, Champlain did not yet have a strategic plan, which would provide a “long-term plan for attracting new jobs, retain business, and foster economic growth”. Such a plan was also required to help secure grants and external funding.
MBD Insight executive vice-president Trudy Parsons and Erik Lockhart from the Queens University Executive Decision Centre asked the councillors and staff to suggest, then vote on different areas in which they would like the township to improve over the coming years.
“It’s really a road map that allows everyone to know the direction we’re working towards,” Parsons said about the plan. “We’re able to provide direct alignment between what the community is expecting and what they see as most important with that to which council and management see as most important.”
Staff and councillors identified an aging population and a lack of youth retention, identity concerns, talent attraction, a resistance to development and the need for facility upgrades as risks to the township’s future. The strategic plan was designed to help address those issues.
Among ideas suggested at the workshop were a potential name change for the township to boost name recognition, a business development plan along Highway 17, and an evaluation of all recreation infrastructure in the municipality. Some suggested methods to attract residents from larger cities who were considering moving into more rural areas during the pandemic, including lobbying for the improvement of broadband services.
The workshop was one of two council management and councillors were to attend as part of the strategic plan’s development. Public forums were expected to be held online on March 15 and April 8, while a resident survey would be sent out with township tax notices. A draft report was due to be prepared by April 20.