Development of a revised Strategic Plan now on the front burner - start thinking about it.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 26, 2015


With the budget in place and a new city manager hired, Council is now going to turn its mind to the Strategic Plan.

The Plan is a document that gets put together by a city council early in its term.

Four years ago, what was a council with three new members, took on the task of doing a real Strategic Plan. In the past the Strat Plan was often not much more than a collection of pictures.

The new blood on the 2010 Council brought energy and insight to the process.

It was a solid effort during which some serious divides in the thinking on just how the city should grow revealed themselves.

Taylor with Black smiling

Gerogina Black, the KPMG facilitator who took Council through their 2011 Strategic Plan exercise had a soft spot for Councillor – the feeling was mutual. Some good work was done in 2011

KPMG facilitator Georgina Black did a superb job of leading the group through 11 half day sessions. What Black learned very quickly was that the group did not have a BHAG – most didn’t know what a BHAG was. Part of the purpose behind the developing of a Strategic Plan is to look at the bigger picture and think big.

Some in Burlington might shudder at the idea of thinking big – visions of the pier debacle come into their minds.

A BHAG Black explained was a Big Hairy Audacious Goal – thinking outside the box and seeing over the hill and into the future.

Burlington often seems like a place that lets itself be defined by its geography – the Escarpment and the waterfront – with not that much in between
With four years under their collective belts Council can be expected to take a much different approach to what it wants to set out as its next plan.
This time around the city will have a city manager who has some significant depth in planning – expect that to make a difference.

What will also make a difference is the now much clearer political divide of this council. The role the Mayor is going to play, or not going to play, will be interesting to watch.

In 2011 Mayor Goldring had a Chief of Staff who is a very strong strategic thinker – Frank McKeown is no longer with the Mayor – he runs the Economic Development Corporation and can be expected to bring forward the views of that organization and not be the Mayor’s thinker.

Frank McKeown, then the Mayors Chief of Staff explains a concept to Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman.  McKeown was described as the 7th council member during the Strategic Plan sessions.

Frank McKeown, then the Mayors Chief of Staff explains a concept to Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman during the development of the 2011 Strategic Plan.  McKeown was described as the 7th council member during the Strategic Plan sessions. This time around he will speak for the economic development corporation

The city has a panel of a couple of hundred people that it runs ideas past; they call it the Insight Panel. It is a program the city signed up for at a cost of $100,000 a year for three years. They recently asked for some response to a clutch of questions related to the development of a Strategic plan.

At the end of the survey they provided a chart summarizing the views of the people who had completed the survey. It did not bode well for the starting point of the 2015 Strategic Plan development process.

Insight graphic - worsened

The responders were people being asked what they thought and felt about how the city was doing with its Strategic Plan. Clearly council has its work cut out for themselves when they create the next four year Strategic Plan


The city is updating its strategic plan, checking in to make sure the plan will take our city where we all want to go.
In the introduction to the survey staff explained “it is designed to ask what you think about city services, whether you feel engaged, priority identification and how you want to hear from the city.” They are certainly hearing – are they listening.

The city website has a section devoted to the Strategic Plan. In that section they set out where they are at this point in time and what they expect the roll out of the process will be.

“With the new term of council, the city is updating its strategic plan, keeping the major elements while making adjustments based on new and emerging realities, demands and challenges. We are taking a close look at what strategic priorities have been finished, which need to be started and what we should add or change” says the website

“The 2015-18 City of Burlington strategic plan will build on past success while reaching for future goals. This is your strategic plan. It is your chance to tell council what’s important to you.”

Strategic Plan roll out schedule:

Martiuk speaks to the team

Then city manager Roman Martiuk leads staff and council members through the development of an idea.

Stage 1 – May to Dec 2014

Project Initiation: Getting started on the 2015-18 strategic plan

  • Planning meetings and workshops
  • Early stages of public engagement

STATUS: Complete

Stage 2 – Nov. 2014 to April 2015

Background and Data Gathering: Opportunities to have your say

  • Telephone survey (Completed)
  • Online survey –
  • Kitchen table talks/Group workbook – coming soon
  • Create the tagline – coming soon

STATUS: Happening now

StPlan flip charts

There were so many pages of thoughts and idea created when the 2011 Strategic |Plan was being created – every available space got put to use.

Stage 3 – May to June 2015

Developing the Plan

  • Review of council, staff and community input
  • Creation of a draft strategic plan

STATUS: Spring 2015

Stage 4 – June 2015

Validation of the Draft Plan: Making sure we got it right

  • Public and staff input into the draft plan
  • Revising and refining  the draft plan

STATUS: Spring/Summer 2015

Wallihura - Dwyer - Male

Staff played a full and significant role in the development of the 2011 Strategic Plan

Stage 5 – July 2015

Plan Approval: Final version of the draft strategic plan to City Council

STATUS: Summer 2015

Stage 6 – Ongoing

Review, refinement  and Update of the Plan

  • Report back to the community on how we’re doing (Community Report)
  • Meet quarterly to ensure the plan is on track

STATUS: Four times a year

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4 comments to Development of a revised Strategic Plan now on the front burner – start thinking about it.

  • Peter Rusin

    Is there a difference between the Burlington strategic plan and say the Oakville or Milton strategic plans?

    • John

      Good question Peter. If you have that information perhaps it would help shape the Burlington plan.
      Any good ideas Burlington could use would be useful.

  • John

    Burlington is mandated to grow and our strategic plan is the opportunity to determine how that is accomplished.

    We need to know why new residents would choose our city over our neighbours.

    Are they attracted by the suburban lifestyle, proximity to a large metropolitan city or new job, condominium living by the lake, more affordable housing, or do they see the city the way it is as the ideal location to live
    Just a few of the reasons we must understand to get a strategic plan that can be followed and used to shape the city.

    The Field Of Dreams was a great movie with a classic Hollywood ending.
    If our plan changes the reasons they come… well it’s not Hollywood.


  • Susan Lewis

    If you want to take the survey, there’s a link for it here: