Municipalities and Library Boards undertake long range master plans to determine future directions and opportunities to enhance and improve services. These plans typically have a ten year horizon with recommendations based on demographics, service trends, public and stakeholder input, corporate objectives, and financial resources. Master Plans are usually the first or highest order of planning, often identifying a need for more detailed plans such as facility feasibility studies. A typical master plan for both recreation and library services outlines future requirements for infrastructure and facilities, staffing, programs and policies. dmA has prepared library and recreation master plans for communities throughout Canada.
Strategic Plans differ from master plans in that they are strongly focused on change. A strategic plan guides an organization through a period of significant transition. The plan identifies the organization’s preferred future, the initiatives to achieve that future, and processes to monitor that achievement. Municipalities facing financial constraints and restructuring, and libraries addressing the challenges of new technology, have often called on dmA to help them strategically reposition for the future.
Feasibility studies confirm the need and financial viability of capital projects that represent a major investment for the owner. We have worked with small communities and with major urban centres to assess the feasibility of recreation complexes and libraries with costs ranging from $1 million to $100 million. In most cases, our feasibility studies are required to secure funding from senior levels of government. Based on a detailed assessment of the market and financial analysis these studies determine the ability of an organization or a municipality to finance and manage the planned infrastructure in a sustainable manner. Our feasibility studies include detailed business and operating plans, and financial assessments. In many cases we retain architects and/or landscape architects to work with us on these studies.
Organizational Reviews and Management Studies
We often work with our clients to help them develop viable, efficient and effective service delivery systems. These studies assess human resources, organizational structure and job descriptions. Our organizational reviews frequently recommend improved management techniques including performance evaluation, outcome measures, business planning and core service reviews. In many cases, these studies are the result of a municipal amalgamation or other significant change in an organization’s direction.
Policy Review and Development
Policy reviews are often required to redirect an organization’s focus and resources and are frequently a product of a master plan or strategic plan. Within the broad area of recreation and library policy planning we have assisted clients to adjust fees and pricing; set priorities for scheduling facilities; enter into partnerships or joint service agreements with another service provider; identify core services and service recipients; and set minimum service standards.
Primary Research and Evaluation
While much of our practice is focused on municipal plans and strategies, we are proud of our on-going involvement in research and program evaluation. This work frequently establishes preferred frameworks, service delivery approaches and funding criteria for senior levels of government that work closely with our municipal clients. Consequently, both dmA and our municipal clients benefit from our active involvement in projects of this type. Our research and evaluation projects are undertaken for provincial and federal government agencies and address a wide range of topics, including in recent years determinants of effective active living strategies; information requirements for monitoring and surveillance of physical activity levels; performance measurement for determining the benefits of public libraries, evaluation of public private partnerships for recreation and library services, input to federal funding criteria for recreation infrastructure projects; best practices for developing sustainable arts, culture and recreational resources; and, assessment of innovative funding and financing strategies for sport and recreation infrastructure.
Ongoing Client Support
In almost all cases our initial contact with a client occurs when we respond to a request for proposal for a major planning project. However, we value our client relationships and our pleased to provide ongoing assistance, often assisting with small assignments or occasional services to support municipal staff, including:
– Assistance with the preparation of requests for proposal and terms of reference
– Peer reviews of recreation and library planning studies
– Process facilitation for policy and planning initiatives
– Ongoing advice on the implementation of major projects
– Participation in staff training events e.g., presenting current service trends
– Support in identifying and selecting architects associated with recreation infrastructure projects
– Community and online surveys