TISGB is growing! Welcoming two new Board Members and tracking momentum in SGB!

The Institute of Southern Georgian Bay > News/Newsletters > Newsletter > TISGB is growing! Welcoming two new Board Members and tracking momentum in SGB!

In this newsletter:

  • Watch the replay of May 31st’s event: Closing the Gap on Housing Affordability: What we can learn with the Ottawa Community Land Trust
  • SGB Affordable Housing Toolkit Feature: How can your municipality help?
  • Welcoming two more new Board Members
  • SGB: A hub of innovation with a landscape of partnerships

Watch the Replay- Closing the Gap on Housing Affordability: What we can learn with the Ottawa Community Land Trust

Let’s talk about the event on May 31st. The energy on the call was palpable as we delved into social finance solutions in relation to the housing crisis in Southern Georgian Bay (SGB), with a focus on land trusts and community bonds.

The chat and Q&A session were incredibly engaging, with attendees actively participating and showing a strong desire to learn and take action in our own backyard. Our speakers, Mike Bulthuis and Satyameet Singh, moderated by Gillian Fairley, took us on a comprehensive journey through the fundamentals of land trusts and community bonds, providing us with a valuable “101” on these social finance models.

Mike Bulthuis, Executive Director of the Ottawa Community Land Trust (OCLT), shared the inspiring work they do in mobilizing community wealth to support affordable housing. His presentation not only provided insights into OCLT’s mission of acquiring existing rental properties and developing affordable housing on vacant land but also shed light on the significance of land trusts in preserving affordability for future generations.

Satyameet Singh, Campaign Manager at Tapestry Community Capital, expanded our understanding of moving beyond housing subsidies and introduced the concept of community bonds as an innovative financing mechanism. His expertise in community capital highlighted the power of collective investment and emphasized the importance of community involvement in addressing the housing crisis.

Together, we can harness the knowledge gained from this event and continue to build upon it, driving meaningful action and progress in our community. Let’s utilize the power of land trusts, community bonds, and collaborative efforts to create a more affordable and inclusive Southern Georgian Bay. If you’re interested in a follow-up workshop on community bonds with Tapestry Capital, please reach out to Marilyn Struthers ([email protected]).

Watch the replay of this learning event here!

Welcoming two new Board Members!

Mel Pockaj (She/Her) is a Certified Fund-Raising Executive (CFRE) with over ten years of experience in the not-for-profit sector coordinating annual fundraising campaigns, grant writing, and managing special events and donor relations. As an active member of the Association of Fund-Raising Professionals, the South Georgian Bay Fundraising Group and a recently renewed CFRE, Mel is committed to ethical, effective best practices and continued learning.

She is passionate about building connections and fostering partnerships and collaborations to minimize duplication of services and maximize desired impact and outcomes.
For more than a decade, she held various positions with YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, ending her career there as the Manager of Major and Planned Gifts. She currently works as the Senior Manager of Philanthropy for the Georgian Triangle Human Society.

Her passion for event planning has allowed her to work on everything from local galas and educational series to major expos such as the Fall and National Home Shows in Toronto. Her professional experience also includes communications and design, working both on and off camera in television shows such as Georgian Bay Life on Rogers TV, House of Bryan, and the Decorating Adventures of Ambrose Price 2 on HGTV.

Mel has deep roots in the Georgian Triangle and is proud to be the fourth generation of her family to call Collingwood home. She is passionate about serving and stewarding this beautiful community and enjoys volunteering with several organizations, including The Rainbow Club of South Georgian Bay, the Collingwood Optimists, and most recently, the Institute of Southern Georgian Bay. She looks forward to sharing her lived experiences, professional expertise, and local networks as a new member of the TISGB Board of Directors.


Hello! I’m Eric Ennis and I’m finishing my master’s degree in Economic Development and Innovation at the University of Waterloo. I grew up in Mississauga, but now live on a small homestead in Meaford. We produce chicken, beef, eggs, and fruits and vegetables for ourselves, family, and friends. I committed to this lifestyle change as a way of aligning my life with what humans need to thrive.

Before starting at Waterloo, I studied psychology at the University of Toronto and fell in love with learning about how to maximize wellbeing and happiness by making changes to day-to-day life. To get started learning about general business and how people make career choices, I worked in executive recruiting for 4 years within the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. During this time, I also studied Sustainability and Behavior Change through the University of California. While studying at Waterloo, I have been working with our local Métis community and have learned how major infrastructure development affects daily life for all members of our communities. Building on this, I am also interning with the Marine Biomass Innovation project on western Newfoundland. This work has shown me how rising tides do not always lift all boats, and that significant changes must be made to correct this; a combination of small patches and changes, retrofits, new builds, and new designs are all required. We have strayed far off the path to sustainability, but it is achievable with our current knowledge and set of tools!

Through my volunteering experiences in Scouts Canada, Rotary, community gardening, and local politics, it has become clear that home-grown local economics was the key to figuring out how the world around us could be adjusted to better match what makes humans happy, such as fostering community connection, relationships with the environment, and meaningful and productive work.

I am very excited to be joining the Institute of Southern Georgian Bay’s work on Sustainability and the Green Economy to figure out how to put everything together. Our community, and the Institute, is perfectly positioned to lead the charge on developing a better way of life informed by the lessons of the past, and we can make it happen by working together!

SGB: A hub of innovation with a landscape of partnerships

By Brandon Houston, Founder, Collingwood Foundry

The Southern Georgian Bay entrepreneurial ecosystem has been blossoming into a vibrant hub for innovation and creativity in recent years. This picturesque region, renowned for its beautiful bay and landscapes, has quietly emerged as a hotspot for pioneering enterprises, drawing in ambitious entrepreneurs with its unique blend of small-town charm and city-like amenities. Over time, this area has evolved to include a diverse range of businesses, spanning sectors from technology to agribusiness, and from hospitality to renewable energy. The steady influx of entrepreneurs has not only invigorated the local economy but also transformed the Georgian Bay region into a breeding ground for entrepreneurial excellence.

Support for this burgeoning community has been robust and multi-faceted. A network of regional business support, accelerator programs, and co-working spaces has sprung up, offering entrepreneurs the essential resources to grow their ventures. The involvement of the local government and private sector in fostering a favorable business environment has further bolstered the growth of this ecosystem. In Southern Georgian Bay, a promising entrepreneurial future is being carved out and is establishing the region as a hub of innovation.

A key tool that was developed and utilized by many is the regional BizGrid, a large map of the resources available to those at various stages of their entrepreneurial journey. This year, that tool will be upgraded to also provide a calendar of entrepreneurial activities, workshops, and events throughout the region, acting as a catalyst to better connect the entrepreneurs that call SGB home.

SGB Affordable Housing Toolkit Feature How can your municipality help?

Presented by Liz Buckton, MCIP, RPP- Senior Policy Planner, Grey County

Dealing with the affordability of housing is not business as usual for rural Ontario municipalities, but the current Canadian crisis plays out across the country, rural is being hit hard, and municipalities are being called to pitch in. Good municipal governance and transparency fosters public trust – this is critical to the sustainability of our communities and to public understanding of the challenging resourcing and land use decisions required to facilitate an adequate supply of affordable housing.

So, what are the tools & solutions that only a municipality can offer?

  1. Financial solutions
  2. Learn alongside
  3. Help your community to learn
  4. Advocate
  5. Think about land acquisition and land held “in the commons”.
  6. Plan for affordability
  7. Use development incentives to support the affordable housing we need
  8. Explore collaboration
  9. Support the most disadvantaged by the crisis

The author of this piece, Liz Buckton, also credits the following Municipal leaders for their input: Geoffrey Shea, Councillor, West Grey; Shirley Keaveny Deputy Mayor Meaford; June Porter Councillor, Town of The Blue Mountains; Jennifer Bisley, former ED, The Blue Mountains Attainable Housing, and Carol Merton, Councillor Owen Sound.

Read the full explanations of each of these tools and solutions here.

Will you consider joining our community of Program Partners?

We are asking you to consider supporting the programming of the Institute to help advance collective leadership in our region and to ensure we can continue to provide free programming for all. The Institute aims to bridge gaps across sectors and address social needs, environmental impacts, and new ideas for a vibrant economy. Program supporters align themselves in building a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable future in Southern Georgian Bay.

To support TISGB’s work, whether you are a resident or business, please visit the “Join us” page and choose a level of program support that suits you.

Upcoming website outage

We will be working through a transition of our website host and therefore you may experience outages/ glitches from June 15-16th. We’ll be back up and running shortly after and back in your inboxes with the next Institute newsletter in mid-July!