WINCHESTER – At the regularly scheduled council meeting on June 20, North Dundas Council were presented with the opportunity to approve the long-awaited awarding of a contract to prepare a Recreation Strategic Plan.

A Request for Proposal (RFP) for the provision of consulting services for the development of a Recreation Strategic Plan was advertised by the Township on the electronic bidding site, Bids and Tenders. Two bids were received. After a thorough review and evaluation of the submissions received, it was concluded that the bid from Sierra Planning and Management (SPM) was the lowest bid received, that it met the requirements of the RFP specifications, and is well suited for the project.

SPM is a company that provides a range of strategic planning, market research and financial feasibility services related to municipal recreational facilities, parks, trails, tourism, culture, community needs and growth management. They have completed Parks & Recreation Strategic Plans for over 30 municipalities across Ontario, including South Stormont, North Grenville, Bellville, the Township of Greater Napanee, Leeds and Thousand Islands, Kingston, Clarence Rockland, Perth and Gananoque.

Research by North Dundas administration found that some of SPM’s work includes:

  • A high-level arena feasibility review to guide the future of the facility
  • The development of comprehensive 10-year plans for parks, trails, recreation facilities, open spaces, community programs and service delivery, events development
  • A joint Recreation Strategic Plan for two municipalities
  • Operational efficiencies for facilities in conjunction with planning for the future needs of the residents
  • Direction for internal staffing resources and funding required to implement the plan recommendations
  • Addressing the natural linkages between parks and recreation with economic potential
  • Plans that are out-put based with clear costs and timelines for achieving the objectives and recommendations
  • Community engagement in all phases of the plan development, through a broad variety of mechanisms to ensure that we receive input from a broad spectrum of residents, stakeholders, and user groups

It is anticipated that the presentation of the Strategic Plan shall be Dec. 5, 2024.

The recommendation to Council was that they approve the award of RFP No. RC2024-03 for consulting services related to the provision of a Recreation Strategic Plan to Sierra Planning and Management for the stipulated price of $65,610 + HST.

There were three other alternatives presented to Council. These included

  • Approve the contract and direct staff to negotiate with the consultant to delay the start of the work so that it extends over two fiscal years. This would allow some of the costs to complete the work would extend into 2025, which would allow the Township to budget for the outstanding costs next year. The disadvantage of this approach is that the implementation of findings would be delayed until 2026. This option is not recommended.
  • Do not award the contract and investigate a joint Recreation Strategic Plan with others, such as the Township of North Stormont which has informally indicated that they are considering undertaking a similar strategic plan in 2025, subject to budget approval. A joint procurement with North Stormont may offer both financial and strategic advantages to North Dundas as this could present an opportunity for collaborative recreational amenities and investments. As this work is subject to budget approval from two municipalities, there is a risk that it would not proceed. Additionally, there is nothing that prevents North Stormont from working closely with North Dundas (and vice-versa) through their own separate strategic plans. This option is not recommended.
  • Do not approve the award – not recommended.

The bid from Sierra Planning and Management is $65,610, which is $20,610 over the $45,000 was approved in the 2024 budget for a Recreation & Culture Strategic Plan. It is recommended that the funding shortfall be offset through the General Working Funds Reserve and replenished as part of the 2025 Recreation & Culture Dept. budget.

Discussion was relatively limited, as Council collectively indicated their desire for the work on the Recreation Strategic Plan to get underway as soon as possible.

Deputy Mayor Theresa Bergeron spoke first. “I guess a lot of us have comments on this,” said the Deputy Mayor. “I agree with option one because I think that this needs to proceed as quickly as possible because we have major decisions to make within the next couple years regarding our recreation facilities and I feel that we really need an outside consultant to give us the big overview so that we can make a decision from that.

“I think it’s important to have an objective person to give us a little bit of guidance and so I think we should go ahead and maybe borrow some money and then put it back next year, but I don’t agree at all with extending this over two years because this is urgent to me.”

Councillors Matthew Uhrig and John Lennox agreed, both stating that Deputy Mayor Bergeron had taken the words out of their mouth. Councillor Uhrig added that the information from the plan would help dispel some of the gossip that is being shared throughout the township.

“If we get, as anticipated, the report presented by the end of the year, that’s fantastic,” said Councillor Uhrig. “There are certainly big conversations to take place, but I do think that you know getting something of this nature in place will hopefully, you know, beat back some of the tall tales or just frankly absolute lies that are kind of spreading through our community right now in terms of our infrastructure and what’s taking place and what’s happening. It should be of no surprise to anybody that we do have significant needs and we need to address those significant needs and that this is the big step in that process.”

The motion was moved by Councillor Gary Annable, seconded by Councillor Lennox that Council approved the award of RFP number rc202 4-03 for Consulting Services related to the provision of a recreation strategic plan to Sierra planning and management for the stipulated price of $65,625 plus HST. All were in favour.