A busy June; local volunteers and our caring community making a difference

There are a lot of great things happening in our community and I want to recognize the efforts of the people behind the scenes working hard to make these things happen.

In the past few days alone events taking place locally have included: the Queen Street Cruise, Relay for Life, a World Refugee Day celebration, National Indigenous Peoples Day and National Anishinaabe Day celebrations, the ARCH Summer Solstice Garden Party and the Bellevue Park Splash Pad groundbreaking. It takes a lot of hard work from dedicated volunteers to put on these events, events that offer fun activities and raise support for important local causes.

Hard working volunteers have quickly turned the Queen Street Cruise into a popular event. The two-day celebration drew hundreds of people to the downtown area once again for live music, classic cars and food; and the event raised funds for ARCH.

Every year Relay for Life brings in thousands of dollars from our community for the Canadian Cancer Society. It would not be possible if it were not for volunteers who organize the event and participants who raise money for research and support services.

The World Refugee Day celebration brought together members of our community to share culture and celebrate diversity, thanks to the efforts of Refugee 705, Global Friends, the Sault Community Career Centre and the Downtown Association.

National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations took place throughout our community, including at Sault College, and National Anishinaabe Day celebrations were held Whitefish Island. Thanks to Sault College and Batchewana First Nation, people across our community had the chance to celebrate the heritage, diverse cultures and achievements of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

The team at ARCH Hospice hosted a Summer Solstice Garden Party in celebration of a recent expansion. Thanks to fantastic support from our community, ARCH has expanded to include a Paediatric Room, Children’s Playroom, Garden Room and Family Vigil Space. I understand that ARCH raised just over $3 million to support the expansion, including an incredible $2 million from community donations, fundraisers, and the Why it Matters campaign.

The groundbreaking for the Bellevue Park Splash Pad would not have happened if it were not for the support of our dedicated committee members, and contributions from sponsors who supported the project: the Kiwanis Club of Lakeshore and Kiwanis Club of Lakeshore Foundation, the Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie, the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council, local citizen’s Albert Williams annual charity hockey tournament and the Jones Family. Thanks to their civic-minded generosity, people of all ages will get to enjoy a fun, summer experience at no cost to the users.

A common theme throughout all of these events is our caring community. It takes a caring community to organize these events, and it takes a caring community to support them.

As Mayor, I see this first-hand, and I am in the position to offer recognition. To all of our local volunteers: your actions speak to our best qualities and you are having a positive impact on your community. Thank you for all that you do for Sault Ste. Marie.

Highlighting a positive trend that bodes well for our community

I have noticed a trend developing in our community, and I want to draw attention to this trend in the hope of encouraging support and fostering future growth. There is a cool cluster of local businesses in our community, and many of the new businesses contributing to this cluster are owned and operated by local woman.

Just to name a few examples (my apologies if I am missing any businesses) from the past year plus: BRIEMAKESSPACES (Brie Gallagher), Canadian Shield Ceramics (Donna Michelle Mercier), Creative Nest Studio (Diane Petainen), Discover the Canvas (Katrina Thibodeau), Feeding Your Soul Cafe (Mary Greenwood), Golden Child Kitchen (Angela Caputo), J.Caroline’s (Jane McGoldrick), Lavish Salon (Olivia Braido), Powder Room Beauty Bar (Elise Millard), InSPAration Float Centre (Stacey Lampe), Rasoi – The Indian Kitchen (Neeta Marwah), Ivory Lane Collective (Amanda Carchidi), Scott Coffee Co. (Sarah Huckson), Shabby Motley (Ashleigh Sauve), The Healing Loft (Anne-Marie Caicco, Sarah Fratesi and Sheila Paluzzi) and Vibe Eatery & Juice Co. (Kristy Rachowski).

As the Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie, it is important for our City to see new businesses open and contribute to our local economy and our community as a whole. As the father of two young girls, it is great to see these role models emerging as they are providing Sault Ste. Marie’s next generation with numerous examples of what can be achieved right here in their hometown.

I want to thank Anne-Marie, Angela, Amanda, Ashleigh, Brie, Diane, Donna, Elise, Jane, Katrina, Kristy, Mary, Neeta, Olivia, Sarah F., Sarah H., Sheila, Stacey and all of the many fantastic local business leaders for taking active roles in our community and I encourage people to support them. A strong culture of entrepreneurship is vital to the health of our economy, and as a community it is important to support our entrepreneurs as they will help us become a more vibrant and prosperous community.

In addition to the economic benefits successful local businesses provide, they do so much more for the community as a whole. Local businesses and their owners provide support for important local causes, initiatives, teams and charitable organizations. They can serve as a gathering place and they help develop a sense community identity.

I wish the above mentioned businesses much success, and I once again encourage people to support them and all of businesses here in the Sault.

Silver Ribbon Gala in support of the Sault Ste. Marie and Area Drug Committee

It was good to see a strong turnout at last night’s Silver Ribbon Gala. The gala was the first ever fundraising event for the Sault Ste. Marie and Area Drug Committee. The work of committee members in support of front line staff is important, and in turn it is important for the community to show support for the staff who are offering help and hope to people who need it most.

The gala was also a chance for attendees to wear a silver ribbon in an effort to combat the stigma unfortunately still associated with mental health and addictions, which is something that touches all of us. No matter our job, or social circle, or personal means, we have all dealt with, or we all deal with, mental health and addiction challenges; whether they are our own, or those of people that we love, or people that are in proximity to us on a day-to-day basis, these challenges are present in each of our lives and each of us contends with them to varying degrees.

In this respect, it is critical for our local leaders to send a message to people suffering from and fighting through mental health and addiction challenges. In this blog post, I want to reiterate the message I delivered last night: You are important. You are important to your community. You are important to its future. We acknowledge your challenge. We care about your challenges, and we are working to provide you the support that you deserve.

For my part, I recognize that we certainly have much more work to do. I commit to continue to work with our community partners at the Algoma Leadership Table, Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, Sault Area Hospital, Group Health Centre, Algoma Public Health and the Sault Ste. Marie and Area Drug Strategy Committee to develop the systems and supports our community needs to more effectively address our challenges.

In closing, I want to recognize and thank all of our front line workers, in particular those who received award last night:

The Extra Mile Award (Kristy Jones from Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services)

Community Advocate (Desiree Beck and George Wright)

Trailblazer Award (Lisa Case)

Humanitarian Award (Erin Thomas – Ontario Works)

The Hidden Gem Award (Kathy Berdux – John Howard Society)

Seeking commitments regarding a successful restructuring of Algoma

There is no overstating the importance to our community of a successful and timely conclusion to Algoma’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act proceeding.

The Government of Ontario has an important role in Algoma’s CCAA proceeding, and with the provincial election campaign underway, I have sent letters to the leaders of the Ontario Green Party, the Ontario Liberal Party, the Ontario New Democratic Party and the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party seeking commitments related to Algoma’s CCAA proceeding should the party they lead form government or hold the balance of power in a minority legislature. I have also sent letters to the respective local candidates.

Copies of the letters (Party leaders and Local candidates) are attached, along with a link to the news release.

Ontario utility costs, a comparison

I have been serving on the PUC Boards (PUC Inc., PUC Services and PUC Distribution) and the water commission (PUC) since shortly after I was elected in 2014.  I want to recognize the hard work of rest of the directors who sit on the Boards with me, along the management team and staff at the PUC group of companies.  We have done a lot of good work over the past few years and we have been mindful of and focused on the cost of water and power to our consumers.  We recognize that with the rising cost of electricity, it is becoming more and more difficult to pay your PUC bill.  We have, where we can and with the help of City Council, tried to reduce the burden as best we can.  While we still recognize that it is challenging for many, I think these two graphs highlight our hard work:

Residential 200m3750kwh

In the first graph you will see that our water/waste water costs were the 11th lowest in the province in 2017 (see the first black arrow) of 98 comparators.  The data in the top left corner data box compares our 2017 costs to North Bay, Greater Sudbury and Thunder Bay specifically.  You can see the that water/waste water costs are quite a bit lower here than in those communities.

In the second graph you will see our monthly electricity costs compared to the remainder of the local distribution companies (LDCs) in Ontario.  The data we have compares a residential user at 750 kWh per month across the province.  Sault Ste. Marie is the 4th lowest of 81 comparators.

I don’t offer you this information to suggest that your monthly water/waste water and electricity costs are low or affordable.  I appreciate that to and for many they are not.  I offer this information to you so that you can see we are trying our best to make these essential services as affordable as possible and that, comparatively, we are making progress.  We will keep at it.  It is important to me, City Council and the PUC boards that Sault Ste. Marie is an affordable community to live in.

– CP

A Smart Cities strategy focused on Sault Ste. Marie’s youth

The City of Sault Ste. Marie’s Smart Cities challenge application has been submitted and it is focused on youth.

This competition is an exciting opportunity to address some challenging socio-demographic issues. The City believes we are the best suited to develop and implement a smart cities strategy to address them. Sault Ste. Marie has a history of being a maker-community; we are a trailhead community at the heart of the Great Lakes and we have some important community assets that we are ready to build upon.

The challenge calls on communities to identify a challenge and develop a measurable, ambitious, and achievable plan to address it.

Our challenge statement certainly reflects this:  We are going to reverse population decline and youth outmigration by building the Country’s most advanced youth engagement and data analytics platform which will connect our youth to their community and its opportunities and will encourage them to develop the skill sets that are required by the new economy.

As the lead of the City’s Smart Cities taskforce, I am confident we produced a compelling submission. It was informed by the Community Adjustment Committee’s final report and recommendations (which featured community engagement activities involving nearly 5,000 people), feedback from youth forums held by the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, feedback from open houses held for the Smart Cities challenge, meetings and conference calls with private sector companies and attendance at the Microsoft Smart Cities event in Toronto.

The next step in the process is the announcement of finalists, which is expected to take place in the summer of 2018. Finalists will receive a $250,000 grant to develop a proposal, which is due in the winter of 2019. If the City is selected to move forward, further engagement with the community is planned for the development of the City’s proposal.

It is clear our City has to focus on, engage with and invest in our youth, and this challenge is an opportunity to work with them and build our community together.