Come North - Population Growth Strategy Planning Conference in Thunder Bay, ON
The Lake of the Woods Business Incentive Corporation and the City of Temiskaming Shores hosted the Come North - Population Growth Strategy Planning Conference from February 18-20, 2020 at the Delta Waterfront in Thunder Bay, ON.During this three-day conference, attendees participated in a series of breakout sessions to discuss population growth strategies for Ontario’snorthern regions while examining the challenges and expectations of new arrivals to their new communities. New arrivals are from everywhere and anywhere. Whether that is from remote First Nations, neighboring rural communities, adjacent urban centers, other parts of the province, the country, or the world. The conference was hosted by the Lake of the Woods Business Incentive Corporation and the City of Temiskaming Shores. The main goals of the conference were:1 Increase awareness among all participants about the resources available to attract, retain, and assist new arrivals.2 Identify through direct interaction, opportunities to leverage, partner, coordinate, and/or share resources, staff and activities.3 Develop a concrete list of next steps identifying not only what is to be done, but by whom and by when.
I asked Aime Dimatteo, Director General FedNor some questions on the event.
What is this conference all about?“The Come North conference idea is in Northern Ontario we are suffering with not enough people across Northern Ontario. We are doing a better >job on youth out migration- youth are staying but we need to attract more people. But there are not enough people in Northern Ontario for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs, its that simple. This conference here and the one last week in Northeastern Ontario is to develop what I call a communications strategy or a branding strategy. It is to say to everyone if we are going to be successful we have to put together aconsistent strategy that we all use together to promote Northern Ontario as a place to come to live and work and grow your families to help Northern Ontario prosper.”
How many new people could we need in Northern Ontario?“One study that was done for NW Ontario looking at mining opportunities coming up could require 50,000 new jobs in the next 5 to 7 years. A similar study in Northeastern Ontario almost found the same thing. We are getting older, people are retiring and people are not having the same large families they used to previously. The only growing population in Northern Ontario are our First Nation communities. We >need to maximize their opportunities.”
There are many international students here in Thunder Bay now?“All 10 of our post secondary institutions, 6 colleges and 4 universities are attracting over 10,000 international students each year to get their education. They generally aren’t staying here so what we are saying if we have these kids and their families that have made the decision to come here. How can we attract them to stay here and take the jobs going or start their own businesses. We want to keep them here. We also need to provide opportunities while they are going to school here to do some coop placements. To get them some experience working in a business for whatever short period of time to determine this somewhere they would like to work as well as enabling the private sector to test out students and get to know them and create a good match.”
The north has some good opportunities for people?“Northern Ontario represents 90 % of the land mass of the Province of Ontario. We are blessed with God’s country here but we are scattered in our small municipalities across this beautiful region. Those of us born and raised here sometimes take it for granted but we need to do a >better job at telling people to come north. We have a lot of room for growth and could easily accommodate 10’s of thousands people coming
here. Housing is less expensive and our work commute is easier here.”