The City of Flin Flon’s new strategic plan has already started to show results, Mayor Cal Huntley has told The Reminder.
The plan, which was released last month, shines a light on some areas of concern within the community. Huntley said public consultation during the plan’s development was a key for producing the final list of 10 pillars and action items.
“We’ve done a lot of work to engage people and put the strategic plan in place. We’ve identified activities that will support the 10 pillars. What we’re in the process of now is making it real and determining what action items need to be put in place, what structures need to be put in place, and what resources need to be found to start moving on the 10 pillars,” Huntley said.
“It’s early in the process and you’ll start to see more detail moving forward. We may not move forward at the same pace. It’s a large group of activities and we’re going to go with priority one as priority one.”
An action item regarding health and wellbeing, listed as “[promoting] and [implementing] alternative healthcare,” was clarified by Huntley. Instead of promoting “alternative medicine” methods as some members of the public feared, the item is meant to instead promote healthcare alternatives for Flin Flonners, including attracting more fee-for-service doctors to the region.
“At one point in Flin Flon, we had a lot of fee-for-service doctors. Fee-for-service doctors bill the province directly and we have seen them, over the past few years, leave Flin Flon,” Huntley said.
Huntley said fee-for-service physicians were “not necessarily” under the budget of the Northern Health Region (NHR). These doctors also had high numbers of patients, but no concrete plans currently exist to attract these doctors to Flin Flon.
“We haven’t fleshed that out yet and nobody specifically has put an action plan underneath that action item,” he said.
Huntley added that one of the plan’s 10 pillars, comprehensive seniors’ programs, has seen some progress. Discussions with engineering firms regarding a potential seniors’ housing project have occurred, but no commitments have been set.
“Right now, the group is working on identifying the need in the community to try and actually get some numbers, so you know what you’re looking for in terms of a facility,” he said.
Huntley added the task of organizing seniors’ housing has been sent to the city’s finance and personnel committee, which will research what Flin Flon’s needs are for seniors’ housing.
“The first step they’re going to take is a community-wide assessment to determine what do we really need for seniors’ housing. I think they’re going to come back with various levels of seniors’ housing needed, depending on age,” he said. “There’ll be some in regards to assisted living, there’ll be some for active seniors – that kind of a thing. But they want to get a bigger grasp on numbers before we travel down the project road.”
Discussions for seniors’ housing have centred on two ideas; either active living-themed areas with condominiums for new retirees, snowbirds and other mobile seniors, or an assisted living facility for older seniors or people with medical needs.
One action item focuses on the long-term viability of the Flin Flon landfill and ensuring the site is still usable and pollution-free in the future.
“Right now, the sustainability of the landfill is more based upon usage and recycling,” Huntley said. “We want to manage the recycling to keep it out of the garbage dump and we still have, volume-wise and property-wise, a fairly good handle on 10 or 15 years for the site, depending on usage.”
The city’s main concern with the site was making sure the landfill was not damaging the nearby environment.
“There’s no indication that we are,” he said.
There have been ongoing concerns regarding leachate – water that leaks from a dump site, taking effluent and contaminants with it – but Huntley said potential issues have been addressed.
“There was some borderline leachate and we are very close to a lake, but there’s no indication that any leachate is going to the lake or anything like that,” he said. “It’s an ongoing monitoring and adjusting what contents are going into the landfill to make sure we’re managing that as appropriately as possible.”
Another environmental concern regards the use of plastic bags in Flin Flon. Both The Pas and Thompson have banned the bags, along with major centres elsewhere in Canada, citing issues with plastic’s inability to biodegrade and the environmental impact of making the bags.
“That will be on the table again. Neighbouring communities in The Pas and Thompson have already initiated things like that. We’re going to look at, in the very near future, how we can engage the business community and the community in the idea of getting rid of the bags,” said Huntley.
“Council, in principle, is in support of going in that direction. We just need to determine what we need to do to make that happen.”
Encouraging tourism is a part of the strategic plan, along with using the new Flin Flon tourism brand. Huntley said the city is already using the brand in some areas, but who exactly will control its use and distribution isn’t yet known.
“The way city council is involved, it’s the branding for the region, but it more or less sits with the City of Flin Flon. The branding, the logos and all that stuff, we want to see it everywhere. We want to see promotional material going out everywhere, but we want a little bit of control over how it’s being used,” Huntley said.
“We’re in the process of determining who should have access over the brand right now, whether it’s the city, the chamber, the Regional Economic Development Commission (REDC), but in saying that, we are using the brand already, and unofficially, it’s through the City of Flin Flon.”