Outgoing Dysart et al mayor Andrea Roberts said she’s proud of the “game-changing” parting gift council is leaving behind for the community’s next set of elected officials.

Council officially adopted a new strategic plan in July, developing an overarching vision and mission to help guide future municipal decision-making. The plan is years in the making and its formation was one of Roberts’ primary goals heading into this current term.

“We’ve had a lot of different documents, things like a cultural resource plan, economic development strategies and asset management plans, but we didn’t really have one document that captures the essence of what Dysart is, where we see ourselves now and where we want to go,” Roberts said.

Dysart CAO Tamara Wilbee said the strategic plan would be different in the sense that it doesn’t outline specific projects for completion. Instead, it will serve as a “living document” that will operate alongside more detailed operational plans to support the township’s objectives.

From a staff perspective, she said the plan would help to prioritize areas of focus and develop more detailed action plans to move strategies forward over time.

It could also help the municipality secure more federal and provincial grants in the future.

Outlined in the new plan, Dysart’s vision is to be a culturally rich, welcoming and diverse community that prioritizes the natural environment while promoting the local economy through sustainable growth. Its mission is to serve and engage with residents, businesses and visitors by delivering excellent services and advancing innovative solutions that promote the community’s priorities now and into the future.

Also included in the plan are five strategic pillars that Roberts says are key to fostering the growth of Dysart.

The first pillar focuses on sustainable growth and the environment, with four goals outlined: establishing a growth vision and plan for Dysart; protecting and respecting the natural environment; mitigating climate change impacts; and ensuring the township’s future housing mix supports local housing demand.

Under the infrastructure planning and investment pillar, council outlined the need to implement and fund an asset management plan; invest in infrastructural renewal and expansion; and ensure its service standard policy aligns with emerging community needs.

The third pillar focuses on economic development and prosperity, with goals to promote and renew the downtown core in Haliburton and expand access to broadband services.

A fourth pillar targets good governance and operational excellence, with a commitment to enhance customer service across municipal facilities.

The fifth pillar aims to establish Dysart as a vibrant community with great services.

The strategic plan was developed in partnership with Toronto-based consultancy firm StrategyCorp.

While Roberts and several other councillors that helped develop the plan won’t be around next term to see the fruits of their labour, she said it was worth the time to ensure the township’s next council is in a good position to succeed.

“The biggest difference with having a strategic plan is that the township can now be proactive and move towards its goals, not just simply being reactive and waiting for things to happen,” Roberts said. “It’s about finding ways to maintain our small-town feel while addressing important issues like housing and technology… This is going to be an invaluable tool for staff and future councils for years to come.