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The withdrawal of NOHFC support for FutureSSM is a disappointing decision from the Provincial government, but it will not keep the project from moving forward and it should not overshadow the great work that is going on.
FutureSSM is a community development project that was developed through extensive consultation with the community.
We have come to accept and recognize that economic growth and development does not happen in isolation, rather it happens when you create a place people want to live in, when opportunity is more fairly shared and accessible and when there are vibrant spaces, places and experiences people can enjoy and share with one another. Simply put, we have to do more than just maintain the community we have, we need to build the community we want to become.
Growth in the film industry
As outlined in reports to City Council at recent meetings, a post-production company (Company Rolling Pictures) has announced plans to open a location in the city that will employ 20 people and filming is currently taking place for the film “Tainted”. FutureSSM is pursuing growth in the film industry through a Film, Television and Digital Media Coordinator. This is a City staff position funded through FutureSSM that is focused on identifying opportunities for productions to come to Sault Ste. Marie and supporting them when they do come here.
Building our local labour force
We need more skilled professionals to fill the job vacancies that exist now and will exist in the near future. The population projections presented to City Council outlined that our community has the job opportunities required to strengthen our economy and grow our population, provided we find the talent to fill the current and projected job opportunities. As recently highlighted in the national media, FutureSSM is working to address our labour force challenges. For example, the Labour Force Development Coordinator has reached out to GM workers in Oshawa, organized a local delegation that will attend two job fairs in the GTA this spring and is working to facilitate training and re-training opportunities locally. The FutureSSM team also helped develop the community’s application to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.
Quality of life investments
If we want to ensure our youth see a future for themselves here and if we want to attract more people to our community, we need to make quality of life investments in our community. The recently approved municipal budget includes several of these investments such as financial support for the Clergue Park Skating Trail, an extension of the Hub Trail, dock replacements for the Bondar Marina and improved public transportation. Through FutureSSM, we are focused making more of these investments by improving our downtown through a wayfinding strategy, a community art project, interactive equipment in the waterfront area and the potential creation of a multi-use, four season event space that would be central to the downtown business area.
FutureSSM is a great project that is already producing positive results. With support from the City and FedNor, the Provincial government’s decision will not deter or frustrate our efforts to continue to find alignment in our community, develop ambitious projects and collectively work for the betterment of Sault Ste. Marie