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Hockey Heritage | Memories | Strategic Planning & Feasibility


Strategic Planning & Feasibility Study 2011-12

To have a Recreational Strategic Plan done for a municipality costs into the tens of thousands – from $30 to 60K depending on the complexity required.  That level of funding was not available to us – so the idea of trying a “DIY” ,   a Do-it-Yourself  Strategic Plan initiative was born. This has been a unique undertaking because strategic planning is not thought to be a DIY project,   and many consultants make a good living keeping it that way.  That means that all the poorer and the smaller (usually rural) areas don’t get to see the benefits that strategic planning can bring.By doing it ourselves we would call on outside experts where needed. We would enlist committed members of our community to work as an ad hoc committee on this project and we would ensure that the whole proceeding was as transparent and as public as it could be.The process is set out here chronologically, covering the many months that the full process required from inception to completion. The FINAL REPORT , the result of the collaborative effort of many volunteers in the WDRA’s catchment area of Westmeath, La Passe, Perretton is available for viewing at the bottom of this webpage or by clicking:  Final Report Strategic Planning. 


At the May and June meetings in the spring of 2011 the Management Board of the WDRA  discussed and then passed  motions to set up and fund a series of public meetings on the topics of strategic planning of recreational services and the feasibility study of the facility.

This initiative was the a way of addressing  a general community-wide anxiety about the aging recreation centre building and what the future might bring to recreational programming in the communities of Westmeath, La Passe and Perretton.

One of the motions dealt with the setting up of an Ad Hoc Committee of community-minded volunteers which would spent the next 6 to 7 months fact-finding and deliberating with the aim to report back to the Management Board in late January/early February of 2012.  The timing for the report was chosen to best utilize the various grant and funding deadlines.

The initial community response to setting up a special volunteer Ad Hoc Committee to study the delivery of recreational services at the Westmeath Recreation Centre was very good.  A request for candidate names resulted in over 50 likely members. As a result, 42 letters explaining the Ad Hoc Committee and it’s work, were mailed out.  15 people  stepped up to do this important work and showed a wonderful commitment to your community.  Over the course of the next four months 3 members of the committee were unable to continue to serve due to personal reasons.

The remaining 12 volunteers were a nice cross-section of our population and represent the various user groups adequately.  Best of all,  the group had real depth of experience and knowledge.  Over the course of the process, three members resigned from the committee for personal reasons.

Two Very Different Tasks

The Committee found itself in a place where it had two balls in the air simultaneously , doing two very different tasks. Citizens in the community were  confused and overwhelmed about how to find clarity about the best avenue to deal with an aging building and provide the best programming for the  community when the main thing is to just not drop the ball on anything – all being handled by a few volunteer workers.

So What are these two very different tasks?

The first undertaking that was done in 2011 is “The Strategic Planning Process” which examined the organization and the players on the stage – in our case the Westmeath and District Recreation Association and the other user groups and their roles and their programs.  The health and well being of the players if you will:  the management team and leadership, the volunteer workforce and the organization’s structure and responsibilities.  The WDRA  budgeted  for the services of a Strategic Planning Consultant to assist us in beginning this task.  Mr Clem Pilot conducted the opening kick-off workshop and helped to set out a strategy to study the issues.

The second major task was the process of doing a Feasibility Study – and that centred on the health and future well being of the aging building recreation centre- the physical building -   it is exactly as the name “Feasibility Study” implies.  The focus is on what is physically feasible to accomplish.  What needs to happen regarding the updating / maintenance / refurbishing of the Westmeath Recreation Centre building and its infrastructures? How do we make the repairs happen?  How feasible are the various options? An engineering consulting firm JP2G was hired to assist by preparing a Building Condition Assessment.

Undertaking these two tasks should not be confused with doing a Master Plan. That was not within the WDRA’s reach and best left to those at the municipal level.   We would undertake the study of our issues and make use of strategic planning in a very scaled done micro way.  We were putting together a “Micro” Plan for a small rural community, not a Master Plan!

A Series of Focused Meetings

The WDRA Board, in order to insure the maximum benefit and the best final recommendations,  felt it needed to supply this Ad Hoc Committee with every helpful condition and strategic planning aid it could -  everyone very much wanted  the committee to succeed in the work.  That help started with providing a series of eight thought-provoking and well informed “focused” meetings from which members could pull strategies and information that will be used in  later deliberations.

There would be an “Open Door Policy” in place at all eight meetings. This policy was vital to this process.  At the end, we wanted every citizen in our area to:

1.  feel they have all the facts,
2.  feel well informed about the issues we face and the process used and
3.  feel that have had the opportunity to voice an opinion and participate.

Only a well informed populace would do, when and if, we as a Board and as a community have to make really tough decisions.  If people are well informed on the FACTS then even the toughest decisions will be understood and better accepted.  So these eight meetings were heavily promoted and we urged as many people as possible to attend and participate in as many meeting as they can get out to.

If  people weren’t able to attend a public meeting in person, they could still catch up with the work done.  The meeting’s summaries are all provided below.


Summaries of the “Strategic Planning Process” Public Meetings

The eight public meetings were held two per month from July to the end of October 2011.  To read the full summary documents click.

July 2011 Focused Public Meetings: 

#1 Strategic Planning Workshop Summary,   Clem Pelot July 9 Workshop presentation

#2 Youth Forum Workshop Summary

August 2011 Focused Public Meetings:

#3 Building Condition Assessment Summary

  1. 2011 Building Assessment Report
  2. 2009 Rink Structure Report
  3. 2008 Energy Audit

#4     An Aging Population Summary,    Aug 22 PowerPoint Aging Population

September 2011 Focused Public Meetings:

#5 How do we pay for it” Meeting Summary

  1. Renfrew County: Building Healthy Community  document  (beautifully done!)
  2. To access Ontario Ministries (Carmen Goold), the Ontario Trillium Foundation and KidActive presentations, (plus other funders),  go to this link:
  3. Renfrew County Community Futures Development Corporation link:

#6 Kelly Willliams Been There Have the TShirt Summary,    Sept. 26 PowerPoint Been There Have the T.shirt.ppt

October 2011 Focused Public Meetings:

#7  Recreation Management Issues & Future Planning,    Oct 10 #7 PowerPoint Recreation Management

#8  #8 Best Practices Workshop Summary,       WDRA Draft Organization Chart#8 Oct 29 PowerPoint Best Practice

Resident Survey

In October 2011 all households in the WDRA catchment area were surveyed by the Ad Hoc Committee Programming Section.  Click to view: WDRA Residents Survey 2011.     The whole community was asked for input around what programming needs they had and if those needs were being adequately met.  Questions were also asked about top priorities for the WDRA.  The survey was distributed as part of the October WDRA Newsletter and went to 904 mailboxes.  The response rate was low with only 70 residents filling in and returning the survey;  representing 184 persons in their households.

Thank You to those persons who gave their time and insight to this survey.  The Committee is very grateful for your help.  The many comments make for very worthwhile reading.

The information gathered from this survey work  will  be used as part of the Ad Hoc Committee’s deliberation work as they prepare the Final Report to the Board of Management.

To read the results please CLICK  Survey WDRA Summary ,   and the Ranking Responses Resident Survey.

Volunteer Count

In November 2011 the WDRA Board of Management held a Volunteer Count where every individual leader and team in our volunteer workforce were asked to take a count of the number of volunteers and the number of volunteer hours given in 2011 to the work of the WDRA.   The final numbers were very impressive for an area of this small size serving 904 households.

In 2011:   20,000 Volunteer Hours were given by 440 persons.  On the open job market at $15.00 per hour, this payroll would cost $300,000.

The Volunteer Count will also be part of the input of information used by the Ad Hoc Committee in it’s deliberations to prepare its final report.    To read more about the results of the Count,  please  CLICK   Volunteers.

Capital Improvements Plan Presented:

Peter Crosby, Chair of the Physical Plant Subcommittee of the Ad Hoc Committee tabled a Multi -Year Capital Improvement Plan at the February 2012 Board of Management Meeting. It included recommendations and a full and detailed listing of projects with timelines and costs.  The Board accepted the Multi-Year Plan and thanked Peter and his sub-committee for all the work that had been done.  This would go on to form the basis of much of the Final Strategic Planning and Feasibility Report.

Please read the full Multi-Year Plan Recommendations:

  1. cover memo multiyear plan
  2. Plant Sub-committee Multiyear Capital Improvement Plan Recommendations
  3. Copy of Multiyear WDRA

Strategic Planning and Feasibility Study  FINAL REPORT: 

Gayle Stewart, Facilitator for the Strategic Plan process tabled the Final Report at the April 2012 Board of Management Meeting.  It included a listing of Significant Findings collected during the many months long process,  as well as the Nine Recommendations made to better meet future challenges.  The Board accepted the Final Report of the Ad Hoc Committee and thanked everyone for all the hard work.   The Board also passed a motion that the incoming 2012-13 Board of Management begin the implementation of the Recommendations as soon as possible.

Gayle Stewart presented the Final Report to the full council of the Township of Whitewater Region, Finance and Administrative Committee  April meeting and requested that the municipality cover the consultant fees  expensed in the strategic planning process.

On April 16th, 2012 the Final Report was presented to the General Membership of the WDRA at the Annual General Meeting.  The membership passed a motion to accept the report and a second motion that the incoming 2012-13 Board of Management begin to implement recommendations immediately.

Please read the full Strategic Planning and Feasibility Study  FINAL REPORT:  Final Report Strategic Planning,

To read the Presentation notes that accompanied the Final Report please click:   SPFS Report AGM Presentation