Background Community Planning Process
On March 3, 2006 the Social Planning Council of Kingston & Area (SPCK&A) convened a meeting of civic leaders from eight major sectors of the Kingston community. The expressed purpose of the meeting was:
“To explore the interest in the development and implementation of an inclusive community planning and action process that encourages community stakeholders to work together to identify priorities for improving the quality of life in Kingston for all citizens and to approach community priorities within the context of their organization's mandate and priorities.”
A fruitful discussion ensued resulting in an agreement to establish a Civic Leaders Panel for further discussion and development of a proposed framework.
The Civic Leaders Panel met several times, including a session with members of the Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) with planning expertise in other Ontario communities. Individual meetings with sector leaders were conducted to get further input. A Community Planning Framework paper was developed.
It is recognized that this process should not compete with Focus Kingston, the City of Kingston’s Strategic Planning Committee. Rather it should complement and reinforce work done by the City in continuing to implement the 2000-2010 Community Strategic Plan.
The Civic Leaders Panel provided both financial and in-kind resources to begin the process. The
first panel included:
Business & Economic Development: Jeff Garrah, Bob Scott, Timo Hytonen
Corrections: Gerry Minard
Education: Ron Sharp, Michael Schmitt, Dr. MaryAnne Bullock, Karen Hitchcock Andrew Simpson, Volker Thomsen, Andrea Cole
Federal Government (Service Canada): Peter Clarke
Health: Hersh Sehdev, Joseph A. DeMora, Dr. Ian Gemmill, Kathy MacRae
Labour: Peter Boyle, Debi Wells
Military: Lt. Col. David MacLeod, Brig. Gen. Jocelyn Lacroix
Municipal Government: Glen Laubenstein
Recreation: Gary Bissonette
Social Development: Bhavana Varma, Jim Stevens, John Osborne
Kingston Search Conference, January 2007
Citizens Participate in an Inclusive Community Planning Process
Thirty-eight citizens and community leaders from different sectors in the community gathered at the Royal Military College in Kingston in January 2007 for three and a half days of intensive search conferencing. Participants were selected by sector and for their ability to influence change and action, their commitment and passion for the community, their experience and networking in the community and their desire to participate from a personal perspective not solely in a job function. Individuals with personal experience of poverty, limited income, disability or other forms of marginalization were also invited to participate. The Kingston Roundtable on Quality of Life is a multi-sector community planning, action and engagement initiative. The Roundtable is supported by a Civic Leaders Panel who provided financial and in kind support to begin the project. The Social Planning Council of Kingston & Area convenes and coordinates the project.
Dr. Don de Guerre from Concordia University managed the Search Conference. He challenged the participants to address the following question:
"In 2012, what would Kingston look like if it were the most desirable place to live, work, learn and play for anyone?"
The concept was to bring people together using a sector approach for selection of participants for this Search Conference. Individuals invited to participate in the Search Conference were selected as able to influence change and action, they needed to be committed and passionate about the community, experienced and networked in the community and able to participate from a personal perspective not just their job function. Individuals with personal experience of poverty, limited income, disability or other forms of marginalization were also selected to participate.
Kingston 2012: Community Members Identify Six Strategic Directions
Six strategic directions were agreed upon by the participants. The proposed 'Future Statements' are:
- Environmentally Sustainable Economy
Kingston is a recognized leader in economically viable environmental initiatives. This can be achieved by creating partnerships between all levels of government, research institutions, private companies, corporations and individuals.
- Inclusive Business/Growth Plan and Poverty
Kingston is a vibrant community that has a broad-based economic growth plan,
focused on job creation which is inclusive of people with varied skill levels and partnerships.
Kingston is exemplary in its efforts to reduce homelessness, poverty and other forms of marginalization through advocacy, community-based initiatives and citizen
These groups are temporarily combined to identify joint and separate strategies.
- Vibrancy Kingston
Kingston is a city with creatively connected pathways, a vibrant downtown, a spectacular waterfront, where arts, culture, sport and recreation thrive and our rich history and heritage are celebrated.
- Health Care
In a changing health care environment, community issues are identified and addressed by an active community working group to ensure Kingston receives quality healthcare. Innovative local solutions are developed and the group liaises with existing advocacy and planning groups and with healthcare providers.
- Neighbourhoods and Transportation
Kingston is planning and supporting neighbourhoods that are safe, culturally diverse and inclusive; with equitable access to a wide range of services. Kingston's neighbourhoods are physically linked for mass and individual ground transport, to each other and to the outside.
Increasingly, there is recognition that community planning is most effective and productive when it is inclusive, integrative and encompasses the multiple dimensions of community life:
- Economic development that produces and provides income for the strength of the local and national economy;
- Social development that ensures a decent quality of life for all community members and positive, harmonious relationships within community and across communities (social capital);
- Physical and emotional health as the fundamental, pre-requisite condition for both personal and community well-being;
- Educational opportunities for the early and lifelong growth and development of the capabilities, talents and skills of all community members not only for their own personal fulfillment but also for their contribution to the community’s social and economic development (human capital);
- Environmental stewardship of the physical assets of the natural world entrusted to all community members;
- Arts, cultural and recreational activities that allow expression of individual and community creativity and act as additional sources of learning, growth and development for community members;
- Spiritual life in the many formal and personal ways that individuals and groups choose to manifest belief in a higher order of being; and
- Political empowerment in which community members can engage in democratic processes and institutions for their own governance (e.g. municipal affairs) and participate in the deliberations and decision-making processes that affect their lives.
This Community planning process is multi-sector, integrative and it consciously seeks the participation of multiple stakeholders.
Action groups formed at the Search Conference are looking to expand the number of community members involved. Interested community members are invited to contact the Social Planning Council. These action groups will develop networks, action steps, and plans for implementation and monitoring. The Civic Leaders Panel will continue to support and provide resources as required.
The next steps in the Kingston Roundtable on Quality of Life project are to develop a profile of Quality of Life in Kingston and to establish a sustainable financing model for the process.
Kingston Citizens Share Leadership To Ensure Results
Engaged citizens are implementing the strategic directions using a participative democratic model. Each person’s multiple abilities are being used in flexible and adaptive ways thus providing opportunities for commitment, learning and higher sustained energy.
Each strategic direction is being implemented by an action group. A Coordinating Committee is made up of one delegate from each action group, a chair (Beth Pater) and a representative from the City of Kingston’s senior management. Action groups are meeting, exploring networks, adding to their members and looking for ways to further involve the community. They are also developing plans for projects, initiatives, and linkages that will result in improvements to the quality of life in the six strategic directions. The Social Planning Council is providing coordination, facilitation and secretariat functions. The Civic Leaders Panel will continue to support and provide resources as required.
The Social Planning Council has an integral role in sustaining the process by functioning as a secretariat, researching information and data to support the Action Groups, coordinating information flow and convening the Civic Leaders Panel.
* Reference documents available from the Social Planning Council: Community Planning Framework and full report on Kingston Future Search Conference.