It's a special week in Portage la Prairie as the City is gearing up to present its three-year Strategic Plan. The unveiling takes place with a special guest speaker who has tremendous experience in municipal affairs. Former Albert MLA Doug Griffiths is the author of a widely popular book, 13 Ways to Kill Your Community, and will be speaking this Thursday at a free evening event in preparation for the unveiling the following day.

Portage Mayor Sharilyn Knox says it takes place 7 p.m. on Thursday at Canad Inns, and it's about cooperation, collaboration, and the future of communities. 

"He just has some great insights about how we need to work together in order for communities to forge ahead," explains Knox. "So, we've partnered with some local organizations -- the RM, Southport, Community Futures Heartland, Community Futures White Horse Plains, the Portage and District Chamber of Commerce, and Central Plains Cancer Services -- to bring that free event for anyone to attend, and come and listen to him. It's going to be a great night and inspire us to move forward in our community." 

She explains organizations and municipalities rarely worked together for various goals, but Portage has already experienced the benefit of collaboration with the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie. 

"We realize that by working together, we can move ahead more quickly," continues Knox. "These groups used to fight for the same pockets of money. But now we really realize that working together and applying for grants together, helps us get those dollars to our community. It's just talking about citizens; how they have to have buy-in, to positive things happening in your community. If we're always looking at the negative, or the past of what's happened, we're not forging ahead to bring our community forward, and to talk about the value of wanting people to live here, start business here, and see people raise their families and children here. That's what we want."

Knox notes Griffiths is an open book and will be accepting questions from those in attendance.

"He's inspiring and we just want people to come and listen. We're having a fun little contest that night, as well. Anyone who attends gets their name in a draw and I'm going to buy somebody lunch. So, they can come enjoy and learn about what's happening across the country and what could happen in Portage la Prairie here."

She says Griffiths has been busy working with municipalities on a frequent basis, which is what will be part of Friday's event.

"We partnered with the Chamber of Commerce on a lunch," adds Knox. "You register through the Chamber. It's being held out at Enns Brothers, in their theatre room. If you haven't been to that space, it's fantastic. Yes, they're in the RM, but they're a regional partner of ours and we do regional partnerships. We're excited about that. But that day, Doug is going to be helping us unveil the City of Portage la Prairie Strategic Plan."

Tickets are $20 and everything starts at 11:30 a.m. and runs until 1 p.m. 

Knox explains you'll learn about what the next three years are for our council, how they've listened to people, how they've realized what citizens want, and what Portage will hopefully need to move ahead.

"This is my second term on council," adds Knox. "So, when I look back five years ago, when we did our Strategic Plan, it was very much a nuts and bolts project plan, where, as we all know, the big piece was Saskatchewan Avenue. We know what we were spending on Saskatchewan Avenue and how long of a project it would be. So, we knew this time, it wasn't going to be this great, big dollars-and-cents major project that was going to be part of our Strategic Plan. We wanted to look at what are all the moving pieces that we need to do to move our city forward."

She says one of the council members shared some words about the Plan.

"One of the best comments that I heard was, 'I believe that this document shows what I heard on doorsteps, and what I heard from people when I was campaigning to be a city councillor.' We're all feeling so excited and good about it, and we just can't wait to reveal it to the public. We love to think outside the box and I'm also a big believer that I never think I'm the smartest person in the room. So, if I can learn from other people and learn from experiences across the country, then let's do that. And let's find out what people's successes are."

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