News — 24 April 2012

By Lindsey Enns

The theme of the initial stage of a new strategic planning strategy for the city of Dryden is all about moving forward.

“We want to know what’s important to the community and what their priorities are,” Joe van Koeverden, city manager said.

The strategic plan for Dryden will focus mainly on the quality of life, delivering better services and diversifying the economy. The new strategy will include ways of strengthening local businesses and how the city can become more cost effective when it comes to services it provides. Meaning there’s a chance you may soon have to pay for certain amenities.

“We are now in a position where we have to learn to do more with less,” van Koeverden said.

“We may no longer be able to offer the same services at no cost.”

For instance van Koeverden says that $500,000 is spent annually on snow removal costs alone.

“The new budget will be more about not what we want to do but what we can afford to do,” van Koeverden said.

He is also aware of the fact that a change of tax pace will be essential in regards to moving forward.

“Before we were taking from where it wasn’t profitable. Now we need to implement a new restrictive process involving a repayment schedule to be able to balance out our books.”

Dryden has the potential of becoming a new service hub, a place for people traveling across Canada to stop as well as a central area for a wide range of tournaments and activities.

“We have excellent facilities that with the use proper networking could attract more tournaments.”

Along with rebranding Dryden in hopes of making it a more attractive place for visitors, the new strategic plan will target entrepreneurs looking to own their own business.

Within the next couple of months, once the strategic planning team has developed a new vision for the city, the team will hold a public meeting to allow the people of Dryden to have their say. In the past, van Koeverden says that these public meetings have been poorly attended, he hopes that this year will be different.

“If people want to have an input this will be your time to line up and provide input,” van Koeverden says.

“Get in front of the process and speak now. After the planning meeting it is tough to integrate input after the fact.”

Van Koeverden is also hoping to consolidate the city’s mission statement into something that people will actually be able to remember.

“I want people to know it off the top of their heads.”

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Chris Marchand is a native of Dryden, Ontario. He served his first newspaper internship at The Dryden Observer in 1998 while attending journalism studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops B.C. He's worked desks as both reporter and editor at the Fernie Free Press as well as filled the role of sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. Marchand was named editor of the Dryden Observer in Aug. 2009.

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