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Durham’s strategic plan aims to benefit everyone

Durham Region’s Strategic Plan for 2020 to 2024 demonstrates why the region is “simply the best,” according to Regional Chair John Henry.

Regional council recently endorsed the region’s five-year strategic plan, which identifies the region’s key priorities.

As one of the fastest growing municipalities in North America, the plan “reflects Durham’s innovative and resilient economy, featuring autonomous and electric vehicles, artificial intelligence and personalized medicine,” according to the region.

The region also notes its commitment to land-use planning, which creates healthy and complete, sustainable communities, and supports for the northern municipalities.

“Durham is more vibrant, more diverse, and growing faster than just about any place in this province,” says Henry.

He says in the next five years, Durham will become the best place in Ontario to live and work.

“This new strategy plan maps out the next phase in our journey and exemplifies why Durham is – simply – more.”

The Durham Region Strategic Plan: 2020 to 2024 began in March 2019 and featured an extensive community engagement process, which included more than 1,500 individuals who took part in conversations, a community survey, and idea sharing.

“The feedback from the community and our regional leaders has allowed us to develop a strong collective vision,” says Chief Administrative Officer Elaine Baxter-Trahair. “We want to ensure Durham Region remains a vibrant, welcoming and exciting place to live and work.”

She notes the new plan aligns the work of staff and helps measure our performance as the region works towards its goals and priorities over the next five years.

The strategic plan is based on five key factors: environmental sustainability, community vitality, economic prosperity, social investment, and service excellence.

The region’s goal with environmental sustainability is to “protect the environment for the future by demonstrating leadership in sustainability and addressing climate change,” states the report.

Ways in which the region states it will work towards environmental sustainability include accelerating the adoption of green technologies and clean energy solutions through strategic partnerships and investment; increasing waste diversion and resource recovery; protecting, preserving and restoring the natural environment such as greenspaces, waterways, parks, trails and farmlands; and expanding sustainable and active transportation.

In terms of ensuring community vitality, the region will aim to “foster an exceptional quality of life with services that contribute to strong neighbourhoods, vibrant and diverse communities, and influence our safety and well-being,” states the report.

The region will focus on revitalizing existing neighbourhoods and building “complete communities” that are walkable, well-connected, and have a mix of attainable housing; enhancing community safety and well-being; and building a healthy, inclusive, age-friendly community.

The region is also focused on building a strong and resilient economy for business and employment growth, innovation and partnership.

According to the plan, the region is committed to ensuring an “adequate supply” of serviced employment land to attract new investment and help existing businesses grow, and will “provide a supportive environment for agriculture and agri-food industries,” which the region believes are key drivers of the region’s economy.

The region’s fourth priority is social investment, which will ensure a range of programs, services and supports are available and accessible to those in need.

Part of this plan includes revitalizing community housing and improving housing affordability and sustainability; building awareness and addressing poverty; and expanding access to existing life stabilization programs.

Lastly, service excellence will provide “exceptional value to Durham taxpayers through responsive, effective and fiscally sustainable service delivery,” the report continues.

“The new strategic plan is reflective of the multiple conversations we had with various community groups, businesses, staff and residents who took the time to provide valuable input,” states Wilma Wotten, regional councillor and chair of the Durham Region Strategic Plan Development Task Force.

She says the world needs more of the region’s ingenuity, more of its industry, and more of its innovation.

“This plan will provide all of that and more.”