COVID-19 restrictions have forced the Municipality of Rhineland to change the format of its 2020 strategic planning session.

Typically, the annual December gathering runs over two days and involves Rhineland councillors, administration, department heads and even a facilitator that is brought in to guide the detailed process of forming an initial budget for the coming year, identifying any upcoming needs and strategic goals.

"We really like to spend a couple of days going through a fair bit of detail...but we felt because of the Code Red restrictions we had to change that. A fairly large group of people spending that much time together wasn't really in the spirit of the pandemic that we're in," explained Reeve Don Wiebe.

Instead, one special Council meeting will be held where the main strategic themes will be discussed, and then the existing committee structure will do some additional homework to further that planning. From there, officials will bring it all together in pieces to form an overall plan for the coming year.

While he admits this will result in a longer planning process, Wiebe says they will ultimately hash out budget details and priorities to focus on in 2021.