November 30, 2018
An open letter to Sault Ste. Marie
The conclusion of Algoma’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act proceeding is good news for the company and our community. We have been involved in this process for 3 years and it has been challenging. It has been challenging for the employees and pensioners, the contractors and suppliers, and the community – at – large. Many of us are, in one way or another, connected to Algoma and many of our household incomes are either directly or indirectly dependent on its continued operation.
The end of this process brings with it some stability, consumer and community confidence and, with a big impending capital investment, a boost to our local economy. That is all good news and we should take a moment to recognize and appreciate that we came together as a community, met this challenge and overcame it. However, we have to make sure we do not take more than a moment or assume that the end of this process represents the end of our challenge. It is not. There is much more work to do to make sure the stability that comes with today’s announcement isn’t temporary.
Our community has talked about economic growth and diversity for decades but we have not made any real or substantial progress in actually realizing it. Over the past Council term, we did two things that are necessary to moving forward: we completed a very thorough assessment of our communities’ challenges and we developed a community – based plan to begin to address them. You can read about both at www.futuressm.com. The City, for its part, made structural adjustments to its own organization and the way it approaches economic development to align with the broader community plan.
We have a team of dedicated people focused on and working on our community’s future and many community leaders, from post-secondary institutions to Sault Area Hospital to the school boards to our social service agencies, are collaborating and working together to maximize our opportunity for success. However, to truly be successful, we need you. We need you, as citizens who care about our community and who are invested in its future, to help us drive it forward.
Speaking broadly, we need to do a number of things to become a more vibrant and resilient community. We have to ensure that we are an inclusive community that welcomes immigrants and migrants, that makes investments in quality of life infrastructure and that supports those of its members who need help and assistance. We have to be mindful of the fact that our labour force and economy will not improve, and grow, unless we invest in our youth and build a community that gives them social and cultural stimulation. We have to continue to work on and develop our First Nation relationships and work with our First Nation neighbours and community members as respected partners.
Simply put, we cannot be complacent and we cannot depend on Algoma’s operation as singularly as we have historically. We need to challenge ourselves and each other to build our community together, a community that is proudly home to a Canadian steel maker as one of its many defining attributes.
There is much hard work to do in this respect but I am confident that we have the capacity to do that hard work so long as we remain positive, work together and keep looking forward.
Christian C. Provenzano, B.A., LL.B., LL.M