Inquiries: 902.542.2908

Master Plans and Strategic Plans

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. Click below to view some sample projects.

  1. Amherst, NS, Arts & Culture Heritage Strategy (2010): This strategy investigated opportunities for the Town of Amherst and surrounding communities to develop their artistic, cultural and heritage amenities to enable this sector to better contribute to the local economy and to enhance the quality of life for residents in the Town.

  2. Halifax Regional Municipality, NS, Physical Activity Strategy (2010): The HRM physical activity strategy was a comprehensive action plan to address the social, health and economic impacts of a physically inactive population. dmA facilitated a working group comprised of senior representatives for HRM’s health and education sector and municipal and provincial staff and assumed overall responsibility for drafting the strategy.

  3. City of Fredericton Recreation Master Plan (2009): This master plan included a full review of the current state of recreation in the City including facility, program and organizational services. In included consultation with staff, the community at large, and sport and recreation stakeholders, which along with analysis of the current state and relevant trends, culminated in recommendations for facility, program and organizational development for a ten year period. The project took approximately one year to complete, was received by Council in January of 2009 and has been used to guide subsequent developments. One of the recommendations involved development of a new aquatic facility and led to two subsequent aquatic needs assessments including one that involved the Fredericton YMCA/ City/ and the two local universities as study partners. This master plan and the way it has been used by City staff is a good example of a long-term plan used to inform more detailed directions.

  4. City of Brampton, ON, Parks, Culture and Recreation Master Plan (2008): The City of Brampton’s Plan is one of the most extensive studies prepared by dmA. It involved a wide range of interesting elements including: incorporation of culture as a vital component within such a plan; addressing issues related to a diverse and multi-cultural community with a high annual influx of new immigrants; aging infrastructure and responses to significant new growth; and of course issues of financing.

  5. City of Ottawa, ON, Facility Model (2003): Following the amalgamation of the City of Ottawa in the late 90’s (3 Cities, 2 Towns, and 5 rural Townships) dmA was engaged to prepare a long-term facility plan to integrate the facility models (for recreation, library and cultural facilities) of the former municipal jurisdictions. This extensive study completed over a two to three year period developed a comprehensive facility model consistent with the resources and organizational directions of the new City of Ottawa. It recommended new facility development, consolidation of facilities, and incorporated a long term capital cost and operating cost implications.

  6. City of Toronto ON, Sports Fields Strategy (2003): This study addressed the unique needs of large urban community with very limited additional land for new development. Unlike rural communities, and growing suburban communities, older Cities tend to have limited land for new sport facilities, and the land that is available is very expensive. This study assessed the need for new outdoor sport facilities and outlined options (e.g., changes to usage policies, new facility development techniques to enable more play on fewer fields etc.) that would provide the City with realistic development opportunities.

Feasibility Studies

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. Click below to view some sample projects.

  1. Town of Bay Roberts, NL, Multi-Purpose Facility Feasibility Study (2009): This project was similar to many studies completed by dmA. It incorporated all traditional tasks of background information gathering, consultation, and analysis. As a small community that serves as the service centre for a larger population in rural villages and smaller towns Bay Roberts was the natural centre for a multi-purpose community. An aquatic facility was a key element in the proposed development. Together with the study architect we worked with the committee to review the many different options for aquatic facilities and ultimately decided on the model that would be most appropriate for Bay Roberts with respect to needs and available resources.

  2. City of Elliot Lake, ON, Parks, Recreation, Arts & Culture Master Plan and Multiuse Complex Feasibility Study (2009): dmA prepared a comprehensive Master Plan for Elliot Lake that also included a feasibility study to replace an aging indoor pool, arena and community hall with a new major multipurpose complex. The study also examined the feasibility of relocating the library to the complex. At the same time that these studies were being prepared, dmA worked with municipal Council and senior staff on a new Strategic Plan for the City of Elliot Lake. The Master Plan’s recreational and cultural projects were therefore closely connected to broader municipal strategies for health living, economic development and tourism, and community development.

  3. City of Kingston, ON, Aquatic Feasibility Study (2008): This large aquatic feasibility study was completed over approximately one year. The initial study was poised to recommend a 25 meter facility, a recommendation that was redirected by council based on stakeholder pressure to preparation of a business plan for a 50 meter aquatic facility on the direction of Council, indicating as anticipated that the cost to build and operate a larger aquatic facility would be onerous for a City the size of Kingston. Ultimately, and after two additional studies the City ultimately developed a 25 meter facility. We view our job as consultants as providing our clients with the most practical and implementable directions, not necessarily direction to meet “wants” but rather to respond to “needs.”

  4. Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority ON, Forest Centre Redevelopment (2004): This study reviewed an existing and quite old facility on the site of the Conservation Authority to assess the need for such a facility, how the existing facility could be adapted to meet these needs, and the cost of that redevelopment. The study was used to attract funding from other levels of government for its redevelopment.

  5. Municipal – YMCA Recreation Facility Development Projects – Clarence Rockland ON and Wasaga Beach ON (2004-2009): These projects are examples of dmA’s ongoing involvement with our clients to take projects from the initial planning stages through implementation. In both cases, dmA prepared community recreation master plans that identified the need for major indoor recreation complexes. We then prepared detailed feasibility studies for facilities that included an indoor pool, gymnasium, fitness centre and community programming space. Following the feasibility studies, we played an active part in structuring a partnership agreement for the operation of the facilities between the local municipality and the YMCA. We also assisted with the implementation of the projects by preparing RFPs for hiring architects and contributing to funding applications and detailed operational studies prior to their opening. 

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. Click below to view some sample projects.

  1. Province of NL Recreation Division: Options for Renewal Study (2009) dmA worked with the Province of NL, Tourism, Culture and Recreation Department to review the Recreation and Sport Division and identify options for renewal that would position the Division and staff to respond to the needs of their clients in a manner that responded to current and future needs in an environment that is rapidly changing, and in a province that is geographically large with highly dispersed population.

  2. Province of Nova Scotia Evaluation of the Community Museum Assistance Program (2005): dmA worked with the Province to evaluate the effectiveness of the current assistance program with respect to achieving the Department’s service objectives. The review was carried out through survey research and one-on-one interviews with recommendations for change to better achieve the provincial objectives provided in the report.

  3. City of Niagara Falls, ON, Museum Operational Review (2004) This operational review investigated a series of issues associated with two community run but municipally financed museums in Niagara Falls. Recommendations addressed staffing, Board renewal and new operating procedures more consistent with standard municipal policies and procedures.

  4. Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing: Education and Training Strategy (2000) Following amalgamation of many municipal units across Ontario the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing engaged dmA to prepare an education and training strategy to provide support and direction to municipalities who now found themselves in new and unfamiliar situations including reduced staff, increased and/or different responsibilities. The strategy was designed to ease this transition.

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.Click below to view some sample projects.

  1. Seneca College Library Master Plan (2011): A long range plan for the expansion and further development of the libraries at three campuses of Seneca College was prepared with significant input from students, faculty and staff. The Plan identified total library space requirements, design principles consistent with best practices in academic libraries and functional space programs and capital costs.

  2. City of Mississauga, ON, Pricing Strategy for Recreation and Parks (2011): Working closely with the City of Mississauga’s staff team we are currently developing a pricing policy to streamline their current service pricing, create operational efficiencies, and recommend a process that contributes to the Recreation and Park Department’s overall goals, including the goal of financial sustainability. The Policy will be completed in late 2011.

  3. City of Kitchener, ON, Older Adult Strategy (2010): The strategy identified a preferred approach for recreation programming and service delivery directed to older adults. It was strongly rooted in the changing needs and expectations of today’s older adults and addressed facility requirements, programming, staff training, community development and marketing.

  4. City of Kitchener, ON, Volunteer Services Strategy (2010): The City of Kitchener places considerable importance on community engagement and this was a municipal wide strategy focused on further developing volunteer resources. The study dealt with municipal policies, partnerships with non-municipal agencies, recruitment, training and volunteer support. Existing volunteers and the community at large were involved through focus groups, surveys and personal interviews.

  5. ACOA, NS, Recreation Centres in Rural Nova Scotia: Best Practices and Sustainability (2009): dmA was engaged by ACOA (Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency) to investigate best practices and recommend a facility model for rural recreation facilities (communities < 50,000). This report and the guidelines it developed provided ACOA with support for reviewing capital grant applications related to significant stimulus funding from the federal government in the spring of 2009.

  6. Province of Ontario Resource Manual to Plan and Promote Participation in Physical Activity (2006): As part of the Province’s Active 2010 strategy, dmA prepared a manual to assist municipalities to undertake research, consult with stakeholders, prepare and implement physical activity strategies. The manual was used as a template by the World Health Organization to produce a similar document.

  7. Library Development Projects – Waterloo ON and Halton Hills ON Public Libraries (2004-2010) These are two of many library planning and development projects undertaken by dmA. These two projects are unique in that dmA was actively involved through a number of stages of the library’s development. In both cases, our initial involvement was with library facility master plans that specified future facility requirements and a preferred facility model. We then worked on more detailed assessment and feasibility studies for individual libraries, identifying locations, detailed functional space programs and capital and operating costs. We also assisted with a variety of implementation tasks, including writing terms of reference for hiring architects, providing input to partnership agreements, assisting with community consultation during the design phase, and preparing documentation required for funding applications.

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. Click below to view some sample projects.

  1. Health Canada – Physical Activity Data Surveillance Requirements (2010) dmA consulted with individuals responsible for assembling information on physical activity in all provinces and territories to identify future requirements and potential improvements for surveillance and monitoring. The research was input to a Federal Provincial Territorial Committee reviewing data collection requirements and approaches associated with the CFLRI, CCHS and PAM.

  2. Everybody Gets to Play© Assessment of Status of Policy Development (2008): Three provincial recreation organizations – Recreation NS, Recreation NB, and Recreation PEI jointly engaged dmA in an assessment of the status of policies across their provinces that support the national initiative Everybody Gets to Play© an initiative designed to ensure that all children and youth have opportunities for healthy recreation regardless of challenges (financial, ability/disability, distance from urban centres etc.). The report made recommendations to address shortfalls.

  3. Southern Ontario Library Service – Library’s Contribution to Your Community (Second Edition) (2007): In 1998, dmA prepared the first edition of this resource manual that provided practical advice for library’s wishing to measure and document their social and economic contribution to the community. The manual was used extensively in a number of jurisdictions in North America and the success of the initial document lead to an improved and updated version in 2007.

  4. Assessment of Innovative Infrastructure Development (2006): dmA was engaged by the Federal-Provincial/Territorial Sport Committee to investigate innovative ways to develop and finance recreation and sport facilities. The investigation combined literature research with personal telephone interviews to two representatives in each of the ten Canadian Provinces, and three Territories.

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

Back to the top of this page back to top

Family at public pool
Girl reading in library
Boys in soccer uniforms