For for the last two weeks,  town council's Strategic Priorities and Smart Cities Challenge statement have been widely discussed by Mayor Jeff Genung and Chief Administrative Officer Dave Devana at both public and town staff meetings.

Mayor Genung appears a little tired from the whirlwind of meetings, but there's an immense measure of satisfaction and excitement in his voice as he discusses the feedback received.

"It's been a long couple of weeks of engagement. All of it is very positive, I mean obviously we have some issues to work through, every community does, but mostly the feedback has been super positive and energetic," says Genung.

"There seems to be a wave of positively around town," says the mayor and he believes council is on the right track by seeking input from both the public and the town staff."

"Almost every single person whether they were public or town staff have been grateful for the opportunity to provide input and to actually know what's going on. I'm glad we're doing it. It was a missing piece, in my opinion."

Council has broken its priorities into four categories: community engagement, community development and planning, community connectivity and community facilities. Within that framework, there are a number of actions and milestones listed that they asked people to rank in priority.

A total of 32 people took in afternoon and evening public sessions held Mar. 6 at the SLS Family Sports Centre and online input is still being collected. Genung and Devana used the same format in their presentation to town staff at several locations.

To Genung it wasn't as much about feedback on the priorities presented, as it was about whether they missed any big ones.

"I was waiting for that one big thing that we missed but there wasn't really any big items, so I was quite pleased with that. Council got a pretty good finger on the pulse of the community. With the benefit of coming out of an election, we actually hear that first hand what that is so the priorities seem to cover what people want us to be working on as a community with some tweaks."

Genung was on council in the early 2000s when the town first embarked upon strategic planning and at the time it involved a number of town employees. When elected mayor, he was anxious to start the discussions on setting priorities, only to find it had been reduced to a discussion between council and senior management.

"It was important to me that we go back to the basics, spend some time, and engage the staff and the people. I think the outcome is going to be so positive. Anyone who has been involved with any of these sessions can now speak, I'm hoping, to what these priorities are and they've had some input on how to tweak some of the things."

"Instead of it being 'our' plan as in council, it's going to be 'our' plan, with our arms around everybody. It's a different philosophy to get everybody pulling the rope in the same direction."

The discussion on council's strategic priorities continues online through the town's Let's Talk Cochrane website until Sunday, Mar. 11.

Following a review of the input received, the strategic strategy will return to council for further discussion and approval at council's Mar. 26 meeting.

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