Focusing on Strategy for Success

In this newsletter:

  • Strategic Planning Retreat follows November’s Affordable Housing Forum
  • Coming April 25th: The Blue Mountain and Area Sustainability Summit
  • RTO7’s Silver-Lined Journey to Sustainable Tourism
  • Collingwood’s Community Strategy Conversation- request for input!

Housing Forum Inspires Next Steps

Photo of Jack Vanderkooy  


By Jack Vanderkooy, Co-Lead, Social Finance & Affordable Housing Group, TISGB



After a very successful event held on November 17 in Meaford, (see Housing Forum Guides Next Steps” in the ISGB Newsletter Feb 6, 2024) there was momentum to determine what’s next for the Social Finance & Affordable Housing Group, which has been on a journey to learn and share knowledge through our events, for the past three years.

There was significant interest to gather for a day of strategic discussions to plan how we can focus on affordable housing action in our rural communities.  This Strategy Session was held at the Meaford Library on January 19. Under the capable facilitation of our long-time leader, Marilyn Struthers, joined by Greg Fields (AI for Social Housing), the group of over 20 people from business, government, nonprofits, and philanthropy, across our region, got to work to imagine how we could leverage our knowledge to assist municipalities and residents to engage in new types of financing and other creative models to build more affordable housing.

Meaford Library on January 19

We started by asking the question:   How might we….

  • build the capacity of our non-market sector to create the supply of affordable housing we need?
  • engage with our municipalities to generate collaborative strategies that support an increase in supply of affordable housing?
  • create the financial mechanisms that leverage community assets to enable the creation of affordable housing?


By the end of the day, we landed on several themes:

  1. Explore land trusts as a means for municipalities and donors to hold land for community benefit in perpetuity.
  2. Create a community of practice and support for non-market developers and builders.
  3. Establish a regional finance advisory table.
  4. Promote pre-approved building design and creative new designs for affordable housing.
  5. Encourage/activate ways for people and municipalities to invest in their communities.
  6. Engage all demographics including those with lived experience, seniors, indigenous persons.
  7. Work with municipalities in their effort to speed up the planning/permitting process, tax and other incentives to increase affordable housing supply.
  8. Collaborate with Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and Canadian Credit Union Association (CCUA) to share our learnings in an educational program geared to municipal leaders.

group of over 20 people from business, government, nonprofits, and philanthropy, across our region

Teams were assigned to each of the above areas based on interest and expertise. The goal for this year is to have each team set out a work plan with specific time-sensitive goals.

Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more updates from this group in upcoming newsletters!


The Blue Mountain and Area Sustainability Summit

Profile photo of Nick


By Nicholas Cloet, Sustainability Coordinator, Town of The Blue Mountains



Where: Blue Mountain Conference Centre

When: Thursday, April 25, 2024

(Free Registration Required – Not Yet Open –

Introducing the first annual Sustainability Summit hosted by Town of The Blue Mountains, an event aimed at fostering collaboration and innovation in the pursuit of a more sustainable future for our region. This first summit marks a pivotal moment for businesses, organizations, and municipal governments as they converge to explore circular economy solutions and lay the foundation for a new regional Green Economy Hub.

At the heart of our discussions lies the vision outlined in the Future Story, The Blue Mountains Community Sustainability Plan. The Future Story serves as our guide, steering us towards collaborative action in creating climate solutions, fostering sustainable neighbourhoods, and cultivating a culture of innovation and prosperity.

Central to our discussions is the concept of the circular economy, a new paradigm that challenges us to rethink traditional models by valuing resources, minimizing waste, and driving environmental and economic benefits through innovation.

Moreover, we aim to catalyze the establishment of a Green Economy Hub, empowering local businesses and other organizations to set and achieve sustainability targets. These hubs, characterized by their community-led, business-focused approach will serve to advance our shared environmental objectives.

We look forward to this collective journey towards sustainability while forging meaningful partnerships, sharing best practices, and inspiring action that will shape a brighter, more sustainable future.

Stay tuned for more details as we get closer to the date or email [email protected]


RTO7’s Silver-Lined Journey to Sustainable Tourism

Photo of Alex Hogan.


By Alex Hogan, Project & Administration Manager, RTO7



The UN World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”

Regional Tourism Organization 7 (RTO7), representing tourism within Bruce, Grey & Simcoe Counties  ( is on a dedicated path to sustainable tourism, which we define as a harmony of economic, social, and environmental facets. This holistic approach is critical for a thriving, equitable, and liveable tourism industry in the region.

GreenStep Silver Sustainable Tourism Destination CertificationRTO7 has recently achieved the GreenStep Silver Sustainable Tourism Destination Certification, a prestigious standard backed by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, which comes with a 3-year action plan currently in motion. To assist with implementation of sustainability measures, RTO7 has created a Sustainable Tourism Working Group. This team, comprised of regional experts, offers insights on best practices and fosters collaborations to pinpoint and leverage potential improvements, pushing for long-term sustainability of the industry.

For local tourism operators, RTO7’s commitment translates into direct engagement and support, including workshops, toolkits, programming, and resources to enhance sustainability practices. RTO7 businesses that are already making strides, like the larger Blue Mountain Resort, through to the many smaller businesses that may be just beginning, or like Jessie Caplin of Golden Girls Camp are unknowingly already contributing to sustainability.

Moving forward, RTO7 will be encouraging businesses to gather and share data on sustainability efforts to monitor progress and showcase collective regional advancements. With an eye on promoting the area’s sustainability as a magnet for tourists and workers, RTO7’s immediate goal is to build a significant portfolio of diverse sustainability initiatives. Our most recent sustainability newsletter includes a quick poll – let us know if/how you’re practising sustainability! Our commitment is to simplify the sustainability journey for all stakeholders, recognizing that success hinges on collective action and shared responsibility.

Collingwood Community Strategy Conversation happening this week

Town of Collingwood logo



What do strategic conversations and planning have to do with our future? LOTS! The Strategic Directions we put in place today will have an enormous impact on our near future in this rapidly changing world. Collingwood is kicking off its Strategic Planning Community Outreach – let’s get involved!




1. Community Partners & Agencies Stakeholder meeting: Tuesday, February 20th, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

Please note this meeting will be held virtually using Zoom, and a meeting invitation will be provided to your email after registration.

To attend this meeting, register here!

2. Sports, Arts, and Culture Groups Stakeholder meeting: Thursday, February 22nd, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

Please note this meeting will be held virtually using Zoom, and a meeting invitation will be provided to your email after registration.

To attend this meeting, register here!


Stay tuned for more upcoming opportunities to engage and participate!