What are northern Ontario communities (and small towns everywhere for that matter) doing to ensure they survive and flourish in the 21st century? A lot of things are done ad hoc. And not to fault municipal leaders, the situations that they sometimes find themselves in are not easy – having to place sparse funds across an increasingly broad set of responsibilities. With the recent amendments to the Ontario Municipal Act, municipal leaders find themselves thrust into the front lines of environmental protection and sustainable development.
The issue is that these new areas of municipal focus are inherently complex and require attention and detail that most nothern municipal leaders cannot practically provide. It takes a strong and dedicated understanding of legal, technical, and policy elements to effectively address municipal environmental issues. A starting point for any municipal leader is a plan. The Green Municipal Fund will provide communities with 50% of the costs of developing a plan. And the dividends it can provide in terms of establishing sustainable municipal development are endless. A proper framework and plan for municipal sustainability can effectively organize and maximize environmental initiatives and resources, creating secure green jobs and a clean environment for our northern cities and towns.
Our communities are in such a unique position to take advantage of Ontario’s emerging green economy. For most of the 20th century, our cities and towns relied on one or two natural resource based industries to sustain the local economy. Now, more than ever, we are realizing the need for a diversified economy and sustainable jobs. The new economy can help diversify our job base while helping us clean up and revolutionize the natural resource based industries that drive our region, our province, and our country.