As I have said many times during the campaign, I want Midland to be a prosperous community providing value for taxes, good jobs and a sound economy, where our children grow up, get good jobs and choose to stay.
I am a 5th generation Midlander. The Midland I grew up in was a prosperous place with a vibrant Downtown, lots of high paying jobs, and a great place to live. Midland was the economic engine of North Simcoe when I left for University. Two of my brothers found good jobs in Midland. People then had a choice to stay and work or pursue their dreams elsewhere.
Yet, about 20 years ago, the Town entered a period of decline- industries left, our young people left and never returned, taxes and costs of the Town spiraled upwards and several downtown businesses were shuttered.
With Gord McKay as Mayor the Council began a turnaround. As a Councillor, I am proud of what we have accomplished over the past four years. We got taxes and service costs under control and began to attract new housing and businesses to Midland. Now we are in a financially sound position and can shift our focus to the things that make Midland a great place to live, work and raise a family.
A key focal point is economic and community development that brings increased employment opportunities. As Mayor I will support local initiatives that drive job creation: supporting existing and attracting new businesses, supporting entrepreneurs, developing a skilled talent pool and providing relevant education and training.
There are some very positive initiatives already underway on which to build momentum.
As Mayor, I will continue to support the work of the Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe (EDCNS). EDCNS was established in 2014, with the four municipalities of Midland, Penetanguishene, Tiny and Tay coming together for economic development. Since inception EDCNS has helped local industry to fill in excess of 130 highly paid technical and supporting jobs and spread the word about the economic advantages of locating a business in North Simcoe. Today EDCNS is engaged with local industry in recruiting for an additional 200 highly paid technical positions.
I will look for ways to add to incentives provided by the Town for business growth including:
- Investing in infrastructure, e.g. downtown revitalization and the Big Dig
- Fostering a culture of “more red carpet, less red tape
- Streamlining planning and approval processes
- Supporting the SWIFT project to bring fibre optic connectivity to all of Midland in anticipation of the ‘new digital economy’
- Progressing on the Midland Bay Landing project to create new commercial and residential space
Education and Training
As Mayor, I will promote local dialogue to address a disconnect between local education and the skills required for high paying local jobs. Two particular areas for greater lifelong learning opportunities come to mind:
- Cool is Blue- the realization that many of the better paying jobs being created call for qualified trades people, a shortage in our area
- STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) – the understanding that in our changing world our young people need to learn skills in these areas.
We are making progress but by promoting greater discussion and collaboration among education providers and business we can improve the talent pool in Midland.
The Simcoe County District School Board is investing in its technological education programs to ensure students have access to industry-standard equipment, and current, relevant course content.
I will encourage the Board and Georgian Bay District Secondary School to talk with local industry and organizations such as EDCNS to ensure that programs and facilities are attuned to local employment opportunities.
Georgian College’s Robbert Hartog Midland campus provides apprenticeship and skilled trades training in over 150 trades. On 4 September this year 200 new students walked into Robbert Hartog. Nine months from now most will have full-time work.
I will encourage Georgian College to work more closely with and Georgian Bay Secondary School and local industry to increase the flow of students into skilled trades through programs such as The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP). This is a School to Work program that opens the door for students to explore and work as apprentices in local companies starting in Grade 11 or Grade 12 through the Cooperative Education program. Parents especially have a significant role to play in looking beyond University to the skill trades for their children’s future.
The Midland Public Library, as part of its lifelong learning mission, is building a Maker Place to include 3D printers, a green room and digital media lab, vinyl cutters, laser cutters and a flexible open space for a variety of creative activities including pottery making. The Maker Place is part of the library’s broad approach to making STEM an enjoyable experience for young people from preschoolers to high school graduates as well as adults and seniors.
As Mayor, I will support the Library’s initiative and encourage it to consult and collaborate with local industries which might provide advice on relevant skill requirements, mentoring and expanded access to special equipment.
Economic Development Council of North Simcoe
Georgian Bay District Secondary School
Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program
Midland Public Library