Making progress: strategic plan initiatives well underway

Spurwink Island Path

Gord Follett

Feb 26, 2014

Making progress: strategic plan initiatives well underway

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The first Strategic Plan Progress Report is here. It’s a comprehensive report on what’s been accomplished by the Association since April 2013 when the Sustaining the Trail 2013-2017 Strategic Plan was launched.

As part of a commitment to transparency and accountability, the East Coast Trail Association committed to bi-annual Progress Reports on implementing its four-year strategic plan.

Five challenges were identified in the strategic plan: communications, funding, trail management, volunteerism and governance. The Progress Report provides you with an update on the various activities that have been tackled by volunteer board members and representatives from the East Coast Trail membership from April to December 31, 2013.

Highlights of the progress towards the five goals outlined in the Strategic Plan are noted below. You are also invited to read the Strategic Plan Progress Report. (April-December 2013).

GOAL 1: Increase Member’s Engagement and Community Support
* Established a volunteer Marketing and Communications Committee with skill sets to support website, newsletter, marketing and branding, community outreach and social media
* Developed a template and issued spring, summer and fall newsletters in MailChimp and posted information on Twitter and Facebook
* Established website committee and set objectives and guiding principles for development of a new website
* Included questions about perception in the business and household surveys undertaken in fall, 2013
* Refreshed advertising and marketing for Tely Hike 2013
* Finalized a new brochure for the trail to be released in early 2014

GOAL 2: Secure Resources to Sustain the Trail
* Requested $100,000 provincial contribution for 2014-2015;
* Submitted request to City of St. John’s for a four-year funding agreement for the period 2014-17
* Obtained $227,000.00 from Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development to support a survey of hikers, businesses and households; project began July, 2013, and is targeted for completion by May, 2014
* Met with National Director of Trans Canada Trail, to explore funding available to trails through partnership and collaboration with other trail groups
* Included requests in 2014 government funding proposal for geographic information system (GIS), revenue strategy, trail head signage
* Developed preliminary plan for funding/sponsorship and identified eight businesses to contact before a formal launch of a Sustain the Trail Campaign targeted for fall, 2014
* Raised $178,000 through Tely Hike 2013, the highest amount from any fundraiser to date

GOAL 3: Keep the Trail in Good Condition and Protect It
* Cleared 265 km of trail of blow-downs and leaners caused by storms in 2012-2013, resulting in all paths open by mid-June 2013
* Moved trail maintenance depot from Donovans to Mobile, resulting in considerable savings to the association
* Completed work site survey on one additional path to make a total of seven paths now ready for trail enhancement in 2014-2015
* Organized and executed spring and fall 2013 custodian programs
* Executed a Memorandum of Understanding with Nature Conservancy of Canada on responsibilities for the trail through Conservancy land at Maddox Cove
* Met or planned meetings with Town of Torbay, Town of Paradise, community of Pouch Cove to discuss trail issues
* Enhanced the capacity of Land and Legal Committee with the addition of three new members
* Established joint Government of Newfoundland and Labrador East Coast Trail Association Working Group to discuss possible legislative mechanisms for trail protection
* Responded to multiple land issues, including five in Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove and one each in Torbay, Cappahayden and Flatrock

GOAL 4: Attract and Retain Volunteers
* Established a Volunteer and Membership Committee in November 2013 and recruited three members, including Chair
* Held initial meetings to scope out work required to meet strategic plan commitments and document current processes
* Researched volunteer and membership activities with the Bruce and Appalachian trails
* Started work on role descriptions for volunteer positions

GOAL 5: Improve Governance Model and Organizational Structure
* Developed a plan and identified volunteer to conduct policy review
* Started clean up of office and disposal of obsolete equipment, files, and office furniture
* Began review of Simply Accounting (Sage) to support project accounting and reporting
* Reviewed requirements for new telephone system, with recommendation expected in February, 2014
* Improved processes to identify and report on budget and quarterly priorities in work plans for each Executive Committee member
* Established bi-annual progress reports to members and stakeholders
* Held initial discussions on options to identify changes required to compensation and benefits to improve seasonal staff retention and secure a more stable seasonal work force
* Defined staffing model required to sustain the trail and the organization and identified those requirements for inclusion in 2014 government funding proposal
* Started review of organizational structure and bylaws with Executive Committee and Board; anticipated to be completed by March, 2014

Article: Mona Rossiter