Urban planning and economic development seem to be a hot topic these days and, with a municipal election looming, even more so. I was reading an article by Joe Berridge, an urban planner and partner at Urban Strategies Inc. entitled, “Thinking globally, thriving locally”. Speaking of Toronto, he wrote :
“The lack of big picture thinking seems to be a product of both civic culture and structure. Debate both in and outside city hall is resolutely local. The ward-based system does not encourage councillors to think about the larger city. We are lucky when some do, but luck is not enough.”
I think this very much applies to our own experience in Innisfil. Self-defined as a ‘community of communities’, Innisfil councillors sometimes appear to be so focused on the welfare of their own community that they lose sight of the welfare of the town as a whole. Like Toronto, Innisfil needs some “big picture” thinking. Thanks to a new town-sponsored initiative that is about to start, we have a fortunate opportunity to develop it.
On September 1, Council was given an overview of the strategic planning process called ‘Inspiring Innisfil 2020’. This project is being led by an independent consulting firm with the intention of developing a community and economic development plan for our town. A core part of this project involves surveying all local households to learn what local residents want and how they envision the town developing. Starting September 19, residents should begin to receive a yellow card in the mail that will have information about how to participate. Few details were given but it appears that everyone will be directed to a special web site which probably links to an online survey. The public consultation phase will continue through to October 8. A draft plan will be presented to Council in mid-January and another round of public consultation will follow.
Update: View the video on Youtube, “Inspiring Innisfil”
The level of participation in this survey combined with voter turn-out on election day should provide a good barometer of how much Innisfil residents really care about the future of their community.