Community summit program coming together

The planning has come together for a day-long community summit slated here next month, where the focus will be on issues that will impact the district in the next five years.
Now it’s time for those registrations to start coming in, community summit co-ordinator Jim Cumming said Tuesday.
“We’ve contacted educators, health-care providers, the BIA, Chamber of Commerce, the First Nations, and the [municipal] councils,” he noted. “And we hope the union leaders will participate and join us.
“We can all learn out of this one.”
Cumming noted the event, which will take place Thursday, Jan. 13 at La Place Rendez-Vous, is designed to bring together community leaders to take a look at the future of commerce, industry, education, agriculture, tourism, and health care here.
It also hopes to determine how any negative effects can be minimized while optimizing any potential opportunities.
“We’ll hear their ideas, what they see happening in their areas in the next five years, and what the impact will be on the community,” noted Cumming.
“Then, we want participants to get discussions going about what they have in common and what they can do together,” he added. “Maybe we can come up with new ways of doing things.”
Michael Atkins, president of Laurentian Publishing, ITWorld, and Northern Ontario Business, will be the keynote speaker discussing business challenges faced across Northern Ontario.
Warren Hoshizaki, education director for the Rainy River District School Board, will discuss the issues facing education and the opportunities that may be afforded students in the future.
John Harrison, general manager of the Abitibi-Consolidated mill here, will speak on the issues facing the pulp and paper industry, and where he sees it being in five years.
Richard Bruyere, executive director for the Fort Frances Chiefs Secretariat, will speak on issues of economic development and First Nations, and the role First Nations will play in the future economy and success of the district.
Kim Cornell will talk about the future of agriculture in the district while John McTaggart will discuss the future of retailing in Canada and the challenges of local businesses.
Sandi Dickson of Canoe Canada Outfitters will speak on tourism in the future while Bob Jeffery, northern development advisor with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, will address the changing face of health in the region.
Participants will be able to ask questions of the various speakers after each of the presentations.
The speakers will run from 8:35 a.m. until around noon. After taking a lunch break, a facilitator will break participants up into groups to identify common problems.
The groups then will identify the most pressing concerns to the community and report back.
The facilitator then will have the groups break and report back twice more—to identify and address future opportunities, and then to address how to minimize potential problems in the next five years.
Five key areas to be worked on by the community will be identified, and working groups created to address those five areas.
The summit will wrap up around 7:45 p.m. A report of the issues and ideas generated will be distributed to all those in attendance afterwards.
“It’s going to be a long day. You’re asking people to commit 12 full hours of their time to think and talk together,” admitted Cumming. “Normally, you’d have something like this over a day and-a-half or two days. I think it would be difficult to get people to commit to two full days.
“But in those 12 hours, we could create dramatic opportunities,” he stressed.
Those interested in participating in the summit can register by dropping off their form at the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce (474 Scott St.) or faxing it to 274-8706.
If you haven’t gotten a form, you can pick one up at the Chamber office.
The registration fee is $20, with the deadline to sign up Jan. 7. But Cumming noted seating is limited, so those who want to take part should register early.
(Fort Frances Times)