On December 8th at the Huron Club, the Institute of Southern Georgian Bay updated the community on its progress and unveiled the content of the website to over 50 invited guests. In addition to sharing some success stories and future plans, the 2017 membership structure for individuals, associations and businesses was presented.
From the original Dinner Dialogue on December 11th 2013, the Institute Board and Founding Members have moved forward with the objective to engage the Community in future prosperity. The Institute is breaking new ground, as there is no existing template for its efforts. There are “think tanks” and community not for profit organizations – but few examples of a “think and do tank” bringing many sectors together, taking action for a more connected and effective community.
The Southern Georgian Bay “Power of Place” comes from the 100,000 plus people who live within the 23 communities in the Region and the significant presence of Georgian Bay, the Niagara Escarpment, Wasaga Beach and the Beaver Valley. The residents and the millions of visitors do not see any boundaries between these communities and view Southern Georgian Bay as an inspirational environment that promotes an active, healthy, caring and economically viable lifestyle.
Four Pillars of Sustainability
The Institute has identified four pillars of sustainability, requiring Community assistance to meet their full potential. Through research and involvement, the Institute believes the community can promote more collaboration to reach its full potential. The four pillars are:
Social Justice – By facilitating greater collaboration in this sector – the Institute has been able to bring various important stakeholders together to work towards a more effective and cohesive approach to the challenges facing the region’s social agencies and organizations. The web site highlights some successes and the ongoing initiatives within social innovation.
Arts Culture and Entertainment – This sector provides our area with significant enjoyment and employment and there are various initiatives to bring more collaboration to the area. The wide variety of activities in visual and dramatic arts, theatre and music provide residents and visitors with opportunities to appreciate and engage in a multitude of experiences that stimulate our minds. Of particular importance is the engagement of youth within the Region as the benefits of art culture are vital to the complete development of the next generation.
Business, Entrepreneurship & Innovation – Business attraction, retention, and growth are critical to a Region’s economic development and small and medium size entrepreneurial based, business is poised to provide the growth in this pillar.
Learning and understanding what existing businesses need while developing support for an innovative, entrepreneurial culture is the work of the Institute. Working with Georgian College the Institute is leading a collaborative, community effort in the design of a Regional innovation network between business sectors.
Although recreation, hospitality and tourism have long been recognized as the major economic drivers in the Region, the Institute is exploring other growth sectors such as agri-business, and the grower-to-consumer movement.
Education, training and skills development are critical to this Pillar and the Institute seeks better understanding of the various sectors needs and how best to deliver, particularly to our youth. The ability to retain future generations in the Region is a long-term goal and to this end, the Institute is engaging regional funding, business development agencies, existing community talent and educational institutes.
Environment – Southern Georgian Bay has a rich environment dominated by Georgian Bay, the Niagara Escarpment and its associated valleys and stream systems. Residents and visitors of all ages enjoy an active lifestyle within an overall appreciation for wellness and health.
There are many challenges to our environment including proposed gravel pits on the Niagara Escarpment, aggressive phragmites chocking shorelines and proposed industrial wind turbines near towns, villages and even airports.
While not capable of taking on all the challenges to the environment, the Institute is looking at an important and undervalued asset to the region… Water. This issue requires significant further research in all its forms. Groundwater, recreational water, water for consumption and the sale of water are all topics requiring additional recognition as an important components of our future.
The Institute is working towards greater collaboration within this sector to address threats and on a positive side, to provide a comprehensive trail system for all forms of transportation from walking to cycling to kite surfing.
In each of the Pillars, it is the role of the Institute to encourage dialogue designed to identify strengths and challenges and foster research leading to greater collaboration and action.
Various levels of government cannot do this work alone but through increased engagement, the Community can empower its greatest strength – the people within Southern Georgian Bay to make a difference.
Please take the time to review the new web site www.tisgb.com, where you will be invited to JOIN many engaged residents and visitors who support this important initiative as our Region moves forward to achieve its true potential.