Growing support for those who could use a boost

I had the pleasure of checking out the Food Bank Farm in Sault Ste. Marie this year.

The work being done by Colin and Sharon Templeton, along with their team, is having a significant impact on our community.

The Food Bank Farm operates on a not-for-profit basis and fresh, quality food is distributed to local families in need.

“At the height of our season we were delivering fresh produce twice a week to the Soup Kitchen,” reads a newsletter put together by the group.

“When we add it all up we delivered approximately $13,000 worth of food to the Soup Kitchen. Not a bad year with very poor weather.”

The Food Bank Farm is launching a new initiative I’d like you to be aware of. The team wants members of the community to become Food Bank Farmers.

They want local gardeners to plant an extra row of veggies that will be given to local families. The farm plans to establish drop-off locations where people can leave their donations.

If you’re interested in being a part of this initiative, contact project coordinator Ayushi Shah at planning@foodbankfarm.ca or 705-255-1459.

This is a great example of innovative thinking from members of our city, and we can all help take this to the next level by getting involved.

Working together to create an environment where success is attainable

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Moonlight Magic and the Community Tree Lighting Ceremony brought plenty of people to the downtown area last week.

I was one of many people who enjoyed a fun night, thanks to the help of staff from the City of Sault Ste. Marie and the Downtown Association. It was a meaningful experience to be able to share such a great evening with my family and our community.

This event is an example of working together to help everyone succeed. Along with the City and the Downtown Association, volunteers and business leaders stepped up to donate their time and financial support. In that respect, I want to recognize and thank: Arauco, First General, GFL Environmental, Mayor’s Youth and Advisory Committee, McDougall Energy, Mustang Sally, PUC Services Inc. and Tim Hortons.

The crowd that packed Queen Street for the tree lighting stuck around to do some shopping at stores that stayed opened late. Outside the box, creative thinking led to pairing Moonlight Magic and the Community Christmas Tree Lighting last year. One year later, it was once again a well-attended evening.

The downtown strategy is an another example of positive action we have taken. Since the strategy was approved by City Council, the city has initiated beautification efforts to revitalize the area. Parts of the downtown now have new sidewalks, landscaping and street furniture. New businesses have opened up, bringing new shopping and dining options.

While we have made progress, there is still work to be done. The steps we have taken to date are only part of the process. I am committed to ensuring the growth will continue into the new year and beyond.

Highlighting growth in downtown Sault Ste. Marie

There has been plenty of exciting activity of late in our city’s downtown and I encourage everyone to take some time to explore what our community has to offer.

From restaurants popping up to feed a variety of different tastes, to a new beauty salon, tattoo parlour, real estate agency and radio station, there is quite a cool cluster of businesses developing downtown and throughout our city.

Neeta Marwah is now offering Punjabi and Indian cuisine at Rasoi, the Indian Kitchen on Queen Street East. I had the chance to stop by and grab a bite. Neeta’s presence in the downtown area is a welcome addition.

Speaking of growth on Queen Street; Lavish Salon, SOO Blaster and StreetCity Realty Inc. have recently opened locations in the downtown area. In other parts of the city, Discover the Canvas and KFM Radio have also set up shop.

The hyperlinks included below provide you with some background information about the variety of new and exciting businesses, but I encourage people to check these spots out in person and a great opportunity to do so is coming up later this week.

The Downtown Association is hosting ‘Moonlight Magic’ on Thursday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Queen Street will be closed to traffic from Pim to Dennis Street. Stores will be open late to provide people with the chance to do some late-night shopping. There are also fun activities planned like a free hot chocolate competition and bed races, along with the community tree lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. I hope to see you there.

Rasoi, The Indian Kitchen: https://www.sootoday.com/local-news/sault-gets-punjabi-diner-just-in-time-for-diwali-743272

SOO Blaster: https://www.sootoday.com/local-news/new-restaurantarcade-coming-to-queen-street-2-photos-655209

StreetCity Realty Inc: https://www.sootoday.com/local-news/new-sault-real-estate-agency-celebrates-official-opening-3-photos-744622

Lavish Salon: https://www.facebook.com/lavishsalonSSM/

Discover the Canvas: http://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1228105

KFM Radio: https://www.sootoday.com/local-news/sault-ste-maries-first-christian-radio-station-hits-the-airwaves-7-photos-728166

National attention for local leaders

Members of Sault Ste. Marie’s business community have been receiving national attention for their achievements and I want to highlight these success stories.

The EXIT Realty Lake Superior team of Kristen Trembinski, Rob Trembinski and Jamie Coccimiglio are EXIT Canada’s 2017 Canadian Broker of the Year.

The Trembinski’s ties to real estate in the city run deep. Kristen and Rob’s grandfather, William McPherson, and father, Terry Trembinski, worked in the real estate profession for many years. Kristen and Rob continue to carry forward the family legacy to this day.

Brie Gallagher is another local leader receiving attention for her work. Brie’s renovation of a home in the city was recognized as an ‘Instagram-Worthy Oasis’ by HGTV’s Great Canadian Homes. Brie has moved home after graduating from the Ontario College of Art and Design. She runs BRIETAKESPICTURES and BRIEMAKESSPACES in the Sault.

The recently held business pitch competition put on by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation is a great representation of how we can help turn potential future leaders into success stories like the aforementioned examples.

Sarah Huckson captured the grand prize (valued at $15,000) for her business, Scott Coffee Co. Alex Benzin and Nicole Findlay finished second and took home $5,000 for Ontario Wild. This competition is an important way to foster the spirit of entrepreneurialism in our youth and show them what’s possible.

Thanks to all involved with the process and I also want to express gratitude to the sponsors who stepped up to help support the initiative. When we work together as a community the road to success becomes easier to navigate.

#AmazonNorth

There has been a lot of discussion about the City’s Amazon bid since Councillors Shoemaker and Grandinetti’s #AmazonNorth motion received the endorsement and support of City Council. As most are likely aware, the submission was developed by the City working with the EDC and SSMIC and it has now been submitted. There is a cool website which you can visit here https://amazonnorth.ca (we need to recognize Jeff Greco and the team at Cavera for putting together such a great website).

Quite aside of whether or not we are considered further, there are a number of takeaways from this effort that I believe are worth reflecting on and I want to focus on these:

1. Teamwork:  Everyone involved in this process and the community at large can be proud of the bid document that was submitted. It came together quickly, was very well done and the result of the City, the EDC and SSMIC all rowing in the same direction. As I noted above, we had some private sector assistance with the website that was exceptional. This is a good showcase of what the City and its partners can do when they work together.

2. Positivity:  One of the great outcomes from this bid is the conversations that it has created. There was, as with most things, an opposing perspective that suggested we shouldn’t have spent the time or effort. However, it appeared to me that perspective became the smaller part of a larger conversation that grew around why we should have submitted a bid and that conversation was rooted in a lot of positive comments about our community and our potential. We have a lot to be proud of here in Sault Ste. Marie. We live in a tremendous community of strong people and a rich history that is an epicenter of political and environmental stability. There are a lot of great reasons why people would want to live here and companies should want to locate here and we need to make a more concerted effort to talk about that and celebrate it.

3. Effort: It is easier to make a case why #AmazonNorth won’t happen then it is to make the case why it could but that did not deter Councillor Shoemaker and the committee from making the case and making it very well. We should recognize and applaud this effort because, as a community, we have to be willing to make the more challenging case and take on what may appear to be out-sized tasks. Hitting singles and doubles is important but so is swinging for the fence. We can do both and there is no good reason why we shouldn’t.

Special thank you to Councillors Shoemaker and Grandinetti for drafting the motion and to them and Councillor Myers for assisting City, EDC and SSMIC staff on developing the bid package. Job well done. Let’s keep at it. Stay together as a team, be positive and swing for the fences once in a while. We won’t lose if we do.

What is going on?

It has been a busy few months and I have not put a blog post together.  I thought I would do a round–up recap post outlining some of the goings on in the community because a lot of fun and positive things have been happening (I have inserted some hyperlinks if you wanted to check any of the events out).  Since the beginning of June we have:

As different as all of these activities are they all share a common thread:  great people around your community doing great things to make our community a better place to live.  It takes everyone – volunteers, employees, citizens – and as Mayor I am heartened to see so many people contributing.

 

 

Sault Ste. Marie and the Ring of Fire

Recently, Allan Coutts and Stephen Flewelling of Noront Resources visited Sault Ste. Marie to discuss progress on the Ring of Fire developments. I was glad to host these two gentlemen at the Mayor’s Office for a meeting to hear about the latest news from their company.

I first met with Mr. Coutts and Mr. Flewelling in November, 2016 to discuss their Ring of Fire holdings and the potential to construct a ferrochrome refinery in Sault Ste. Marie. I have been in touch with the company a few times since on these same topics. There have also been a number of employees at the EDC who have kept in close contact with Noront over the last several months and I want to credit them for their good work in promoting the Sault as a favourable location for a processing facility.

For those who may not be aware, we’re one of several sites vying to become home to an eventual ferrochrome refinery, including our fellow northern Ontario cities of Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Timmins. When you hear the scale of the facility, it’s easy to understand why it is so sought after—it will be a $1 billion construction project that will lead to 300+ well-paying industrial jobs once the plant becomes operational.

While the refinery would obviously be a longer-term project, we have all the elements that are needed for it in Sault Ste. Marie and as such I think that our location is being very seriously considered. Noront is hoping to select their preferred site towards the end of the summer, so we will continue working with it and promoting the case for Sault Ste. Marie.

Sault Ste. Marie hasn’t traditionally been a big player in the mining sector but we are hoping to get in the game because it certainly appears to be an industry that will grow in Northern Ontario. The Ring of Fire has potential to be one of the largest and most lucrative resource developments in Ontario’s recent history. If managed properly, the benefits will flow all across Northern Ontario, including in the many First Nations communities that are located near the mineral deposits.

It’s important for those of us who are elected officials in Northern Ontario to do all we can to encourage cooperation and collaboration so that the mineral wealth of the Ring of Fire can be developed responsibly for the benefit of our region. That includes ensuring that environmental concerns related to both mining and refining operations are addressed properly and mitigated as much as possible.

We are in the very early stages and there is a lot more work to be done, but we are up to doing it.