County Wants Public Input for Strategic Plan

The County is asking the public to complete a survey to provide public input for their strategic plan for the years 2019 – 2023.  This is quite different to the process used by Cobourg Council – although it was open to the public, no advance input was solicited for the Cobourg version.  Instead, a draft plan will be available online at some point for comment (but not yet).  One immediate problem is that many people are not clear on all the responsibilities of the County.  Apart from pickup garbage, what do they actually do?  The survey asks what you like about Northumberland; what programs and services do you feel should be priority areas for focus, and why; what should be changed or improved; are there major opportunities and are there major risks.

The survey is open until March 28 and responses will be shared with County Councillors and staff in their Strategic Planning session in April.

What does the County do?

County building
County building

It’s not just a lot of people occupying their Cobourg headquarters (photo), they have a $123M budget and do a lot of things! There is a full list supplied by the County in the Links below but I like reasonably short lists:

  • Maintain 503 km of County roads – snow plowing, weed control, mowing, cleaning, surface treatment, ditch and culvert management, paving and repair, road signs
  • Maintain 48 bridges and 64 culverts, streetlights, 36 traffic signals
  • Collect waste, manage landfill and transfer stations, operate recycling facility
  • Maintain 344 housing units and 34 buildings
  • Manage 5,424 acres of forest
  • Maintain Archives
  • Provincial Court Services
  • County Economic Development and Tourism
  • Provide Planning services
  • Food Processing services
  • Northumberland Paramedics
  • Social Services including Financial support programs, operate Food 4 All Warehouse, homelessness support, affordable housing
  • Golden Plough Lodge
  • Provide HR, IT, communications and other support services for the above.

Questions on Survey
You might want to think about your answers to the questions before you start the survey.

  1. If you had to explain Northumberland to someone who doesn’t live or work here, what would you say?
  2. Northumberland County’s current population is approximately 86,000. Imagine our community in 30 years, when the population is approaching 120,000.
    1. What do you love about Northumberland that you want to see preserved, and why?
    2. What changes would you like to see in the future and why?
  3. Consider the outline of services delivered by the County.
    1. What does the County do well and should continue doing?
    2. What are areas for improvement: What are we not doing that we should be doing?
    3. As the County moves forward with long-term strategic and financial planning, what programs and services do you feel should be priority areas for focus, and why?
  4. Are there major opportunities that the County should pursue in order to ensure a strong and vibrant Northumberland?
  5. Are there major risks that the County should consider in setting priorities?
  6. What is your age? [Choose age range]
  7. What is your relationship to Northumberland County? [Live, work or have business here]
  8. In which municipality do you reside (or, if not living in Northumberland, in which community do you work)? [Choose]

So if you think they should do more or if they should do less, here is your chance to tell them.

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Deborah OConnor

This is simply to show that regional government is a real possibility for us. It’s from the Province and dated March 13th.

https://www.ontario.ca/page/regional-government-review?_ga=2.79052564.1858797235.1552617781-504156343.1552617781#section-2

Ben

The way I see it that the County has a personality problem – no one really has an opinion about it. The roads get cleared, the garbage gets picked up and the County runs an old age home – what else do they do in the eyes of the public? Now what they would like to do – be the one-tier government is being achieved incrementally. The smaller lower tier governments have been forced to accept the County being their planning department their social services department just so that local fiefdoms can be maintained. Their social services department as well as being the coordinator of many County-wide services. The County should be brave and either wait until Mr Ford decides what to do with Counties or bite the bullet and design an efficient one-tier and convince the taxpayers it is their interests to come together as one. For instance we have been dancing around the costs of government for over half a Century and we still do not know, despite three consultant’s reports, just how much money will be saved if we eliminate the lower tier. On the surface if we take out seven CAOs, seven Directors of Engineering, seven… Read more »

Durka

Thanks for this! I’m going to do the survey which I otherwise wouldn’t have known of.

Deborah OConnor

It always surprises me how the County seems to attract so little scrutiny despite its much expanded mandate in recent years. For starters, about half of us are urbanites but we seem oblivious to the domination of the rural Councillors when it comes to voting. We need a louder voice to meet our particular needs. Speaking of voting, when will mayoral candidates face questions about their views on County matters, since the victors will form the incoming County Council for the next four years? It’s too important to let them coast. When will the County come up with solutions to that problem? Perhaps they like the system just the way it is, but what about us taxpayers? I prefer accountability but the current system provides none. Finally, what about the elephant in the room, regional government? Are we just going to sit and wait for Doug Ford and his barbarians to impose it on us or be proactive and figure it out according to our own needs? It’s coming, sooner or later, and we need to control its imposition as much as possible. Why are there no questions on the survey that even come close to these issues, which in… Read more »

Wally Keeler

Thanks for pointing this out. I wouldn’t have known.