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Ontario Good Roads Association Conference

Councillor’s Corner - Wednesday March 8, 2017
Last week I was able to attend the Ontario Good Roads Conference in Toronto on your behalf. The conference theme was “Leadership Matters”. This theme excited me because it is something that I am passionate about. We need strong, well informed leaders to make change within our community. Leaders take action so our community can grow and prosper, we need leaders to stand up and do their part. We also need avenues that give people the ability to create change in our community. Once I arrived in Toronto it was straight to work. I was able to attend a Small Town Forum hosted by the Rural Ontario Institute. This session was informative and was facilitated through an information sharing process. It was great to meet other people and hear their struggle and realize we are not alone. The conference held a general feel that times are changing for big cities and rural communities alike. In the coming years our way of living may not be sustainable because of the dependence on the oil industry which is becoming more and more unaffordable to maintain. There are three sessions of interest and ground breaking thinking that definitely need highlighting. The first keynote speaker at the conference was Mikael Colville-Anderson and his talk was called “The Life Size Community”. Colville-Anderson is an urban mobility expert and CEO of Copenhagenize Design Company. Mikael and his team advise cities and towns around the world regarding bicycle planning, infrastructure and communication strategies. Mikael’s presentation was uplifting and refreshing to say the least. He informed of us how to look at our communities in a different light. The general idea was instead of communities fitting the automobile communities should fit the people. This is a very interesting concept and was echoed throughout the conference. The second speaker that needs highlighting is James Howard Kunstler. He is one of North America’s most insightful, provocative and entertaining minds. As an author, critic, public speaker, and blogger he is best known for his books, The Geography of Nowhere (1994), The Long Emergency (2005), and most recently, Too Much Magic (2012). Kunstler’s thoughts have recently turned to imagining how declining oil production is likely to result in the end of industrialized society as we know it and force North Americans to live in smaller-scale, localized, agrarian communities. His session and conversation was definitely the highlight of the conference just because it took you out of your comfort zone and got you thinking about the what if and how can our communities adapt. He also gave us food for thought on what can we do now to help our communities survive. I encourage you to check him out online, he has a website, has done some TED talks and he blogs. If anyone is interested I would love to read one of his books together in a group. The world is changing and let’s make our community one of the ones that survives. It was encouraging to hear him talk about our need to sustain railroading in our country, encouraging that we have big voices championing for one of our largest employers. The final session that I want to highlight for you is; “Shifting Gears: Surviving and Thriving in a Post-Resource Based Local Economy”. This session answered the question: What happens when the local economy is based on a natural resource that’s no longer profitable? We learned how agile communities have re-invented themselves and successfully made the transition to a new economic model. This session was hopeful and filled me with excite that we can change and enhance our community to meet the future with a resilient and stainable way of life that can meet challenges head on and grow. There were three speakers in total during this session but it was really fascinating to hear from Marielle Brown, Manager of Marketing and Sales from Elliott Lake’s Retirement Living. There are key plans and courses of action that Elliott lake took to help their community turn around the devastating loss of their mine industry and then again with the mall collapse. Although I have just highlighted a few of the interesting and thought provoking sessions, my full report we be available for the council meeting on March 29, 2017. If there is anything you would like to discuss about this conference or anything else, please don’t’ hesitate to talk with me.
Grateful for being from Hornepayne,
Cheryl T Fort