New District Strategic Plan includes progress report
The District of Muskoka received the new 2023-2026 Strategic Action Plan, in the September 18, 2023, Council meeting.
The new plan includes a consideration to public feedback regarding the vision, mission, services, initiatives and priorities.
According to the report, the District’s vision is, “A welcoming, connected and sustainable Muskoka.”
The mission focuses on the delivery of services and leading change in support of the vision. “We serve and support our residents and build a better Muskoka by delivering excellent value and evolving what we do.”
The priorities are the environment, communities, services, and team, as follows:
Environmental goals include preserving and protecting through the Climate Action Plan, which will include public education, reducing harmful impacts related to development and transportation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and revisiting the Lake System Health water Quality Monitoring Program.
Community initiatives will focus on housing, jobs, and community health. Goals include updating housing and homelessness objectives, expanding the affordable housing program eligibility, seeking federal and provincial funding to help increase shelter and housing options, enhancing transit options, such as prioritizing on-demand services, and expanding immigration and early childhood education services and supports to help meet workforce challenges.
Service focuses will include measuring productivity and efficiency and improving delivery outcomes. The District will also create strategies to increase the awareness of programs, services and Council priorities and objectives, encourage public engagement, create more self-serve options, and increase service hours.
Another service outlined in the report, “Implement a new Development Charges By-law and create incentives for building within areas with existing water and sewer services to focus growth in urban areas.”
Team initiatives include creating partnerships that will help support more work experiences to keep people working in the area, and to strengthen efforts in line with the District’s IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and anti-racism).
Successes of the plan will be measured by the outcome of actions through an annual Progress Report that will be reviewed by Council and made available to the community.
District Chair, Jeff Lehman, expressed the importance of being action oriented and being able to report back to the public with the measures of success. He said, “from each action area there are one or more measures, so we can report back.”
Councillor, Rick Maloney, said, “We’re hearing loud and clear our communities.” He added that the challenges being similar between communities can be helpful – being aligned with priorities.
Councillor, Peter Johnston, emphasized the importance of the watershed ecosystem. He advised that although it’s still in decent shape, it’s in decline which will continue without “aggressive action.” He said, “The environment in Muskoka is our economy, and our economy is our environment.”
Johnston added that according to a study, the number one reason people visit or want to visit Muskoka is for the environment. He said, “If we don’t protect the environment there will be no Muskoka.”