Input needed as sounding board for economic recovery
January 31, 2013
MAGNETAWAN – Advice from local business owners is being sought.
“Our prime focus is the community recovery plan,” said Economic Development Officer (EDO) John Santarossa. “We need people who can bring some really good ideas to the table.”
Chaired by a member of council, the Economic Development Advisory Committee will be made up of four or five non-competing local business owners, each from a different sector, such as retail or manufacturing, and one member of the local business association. All applicants must be currently active in business in Magnetawan.
Although less than a month in as Magnetawan’s development officer, Santarossa said over the course of his career, which spans more than three decades, he has created an advisory committee in each municipality where he has been in charge of economic development, including Barrie and Newmarket.
“We need a group that can come out to the meeting and throw some ideas around,” said Santarossa. “That’s why we want all different perspectives… They would be a sounding board for me.”
According to Santarossa, the Municipality would like to look into renewable energy possibilities, as well as ways to stimulate tourism in the area, which has been hit hard by the impact of losing its pillar businesses to fire in July of 2011 when the inn, restaurant and general store located in the heart of the village were destroyed.
“If you don’t have an anchor or hub, the other businesses suffer as well,” he said.
Since the blaze, the Municipality has hosted a number of public meetings in order to draft a community recovery plan, which includes a variety of goals to be spearheaded by Santarossa.
During the consultation process, proposed short-term goals included the redevelopment of vacant and underutilized buildings, the creation of a heritage walk encompassing the area’s historical attractions, and the addition of benches and other fixtures along the village’s streetscapes. At the time, municipal planner Jim Dyment suggested short-term goals should be complete by summer 2012.
Mid-term goals, characterized as requiring a five to 15-year implementation timeframe, could include the extension of Williams Street, the expansion of the community centre, and the creation of a new boat facility at the boat launch.
Long-term goals - those requiring 15 or more years to complete – could include the introduction of sustainable energy sources, and the creation of “zones,” which might include an institutional area, the downtown, and residential area, where future development within those categories would be directed.
Santarossa said he is no stranger to the type of tragic circumstance the community of Magnetawan is currently facing.
“When I was (working) in Temagami, the co-op grocery store closed, so they were without a centralized retail grocery store,” he said. “It was about a year before we could get a new owner who is now running it as a mom and pop operation… I certainly drew that parallel.”
The committee is expected to meet about nine times each year. Anyone interested in applying to be part of the committee is asked to submit a letter outlining their background, type of business, and any other relevant experience to the municipal office or email it to email@example.com.
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