The Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL) Strategic Plan 2014-18 is drawing to a close and we can look back with some satisfaction at what we have achieved over the last five years in terms of encouraging lifelong learning, supporting our local economy, embracing change and innovation, promoting diversity and social inclusion, and fostering community well-being and personal growth. A full list of our achievements will be published in a Report to the Community 2014-18 which will be widely distributed in early 2019.
As well as looking back at our success stories, we have also been looking forward to the future, as we start to prepare our next five year plan for 2019-2023. The community intelligence for this plan has been gathered by holding Community Conversations across the city with a wide range of individuals and organizations. We have tried to engage every sector and demographic in this process, including arts / heritage, business, criminal justice, community, faith, Indigenous, health / awareness, seniors, social service, women and youth.
The aim of the Community Conversations was not to find out people’s views on TBPL but to discover what their aspirations and concerns are for the city – whether they live, work or study here. Understanding these aspirations and concerns is essential to TBPL developing community-led and needs-based services. Our response to community needs will form the basis of our next Strategic Plan. The key messages which have emerged loud and clear include:
- Safety – more community identity, belonging, respect; less fear, violence, hatred, crime, death among Indigenous youth
- Clean and Healthy Community – desire for a positive and vibrant city
- Public Transportation – needs to be reliable, affordable and accessible to everyone
- Inclusive and Diverse Community – continue to break down the us vs. them mentality and bring people together to celebrate their differences and similarities
- Racism – it needs to stop; it benefits no one
- Homelessness and Poverty – people are struggling to find their place, access resources, or find meaningful things to do
- Youth – not enough to do, or no easy way to get the things that are going on already
- Health and Wellness – not enough resources and / or access to appropriate resources
- Employment and Opportunity – challenging place to move to and begin a new life
- Leadership – people want to know and connect with the direction and goals of the City
It is clear that we can only meet these needs by working in partnership with a wide range of organizations. To gauge the views of those who did not take part in these conversations, a Community Survey is being carried out. This survey will close at the end of September and is available on the Library Website on the home page at tbpl.ca. The survey asks two key questions:
- What would make your life better in Thunder Bay?
- If there was a community space in Thunder Bay filled with things to meet the goal of making your life better, what would those things be?
We encourage everyone to visit the website to share your views. The next opportunity for community input will be at two public meetings in October when the draft Strategic Plan will be shared for feedback and priority setting.
John Pateman– www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you. Please comment below!