New strategic plan process for AP Township

By Gregg Chamberlain - EAP
New strategic plan process for AP Township
Une nouvelle caserne de pompiers pour le village d'Alfred est l'une des priorités envisagées jusqu'à présent, dans le cadre du nouveau plan stratégique que le conseil municipal d'Alfred-Plantagenet est en train d'élaborer pour le canton. —photo Gregg Chamberlain (Photo : Éditions André Paquette)

Alfred-Plantagenet Township council is taking the first steps towards creating a new strategic plan for the municipality.

Township council held its first public session for the strategic plan process May 18 but turnout for the event ended up as just the council members themselves plus administration staff and one resident. During a later interview Chief Administrator Michel Potvin expressed hope that more residents of the municipality will attend later sessions scheduled during the summer for the stratetgic plan process once cost figures become available for some of the proposals presented during the earlier sessions.

Potvin noted that the strategic plan for the municipality differs from the various master plans in place dealing with specific concerns like water and sewer services, parks and recreation, or public works.

“The strategic plan process is meant to provide a roadmap,” he said, “for residents, staff, and stakeholders of that the (present) council wants to focus on during its mandate.”

The various master plans are designed for terms that may range from five to 10 or 20 years duration and provide priority guidelines for various items. All master plans are designed to be flexible and allow for changes to the priority assigned to any item depending on factors like the availability of new sources of financing that could allow township staff to deal with a particular need sooner than originally expected.

“Thus the master plans can and do have an impact on the strategic plan,” said Potvin.

During the May 18 strategic plan session, three items got the most attention. They were: creation of an industrial park at the west end of the township; continuing with plans for building a new fire station in the Village of Alfred; and continuing work on expansion and rehabilitation of the Plantagenet sewage treatment lagoon.

Potvin noted that council sees Wendover as a possible location for a new municipal industrial park to attract some of the potential investors from Ottawa and Montréal who are seeking suitable commercial or industrial properties for their projects at a cheaper price that what is demanded for similar properties in the big urban centres. Alfred-Plantagenet council thinks that as the amount of industrial park area available in Hawkesbury and Rockland dwindles, Wendover could become the new focus of attention for commercial and industrial developers.

“It is time for us to explore that possibility,” said Potvin.

The Alfred fire station project is at the early stage, with money allocated in the 2023 municipal budget for doing a new building design. Township council has abandoned the idea of rehabilitating the existing building.

“Our initial findings suggest that it may not be worthwhile,” said Potvin.

He noted that the current building is too old to continue service without extensive and expensive renovations. Even then it still might not meet either the fire protection needs of the municipality or the provincial building guidelines for a rural fire station.

The focus now is to prepare an architectural concept design for a new building that meets both provincial standards and municipal needs. Next year, Potvin said, the township will seek a suitable site for the new fire station and also develop a financing plan to build it.

The process continues for plans to expand and rehabilitate the Plantagenet sewage treatment lagoon. The priority now is to do an environmental assessment for the project.

Last month the township hosted a public open house on the lagoon project but the sole attendees that evening were one member of council, one former council member, and a representative from the South Nation Conservation Authority. Potvin expects there may be more interest in the project from residents when cost estimates for the project become available to warrant another open house at a later date.

Potvin observed that three general themes emerged by the end of the May 18 strategic planning session. Those attending agreed that Alfred-Plantagenet Township should focus more attention on its “natural offerings” of parkland, forests, and rivers as a means of attracting more families to settle in the area. More attention to local environmental issues, like tree cover in residential and village areas, is needed. The township also needs to find ways to attract more commercial and light industrial investment to help spread the tax burden when planning future municipal budgets.

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