Mary Simpson’s report to SWM Council

Feb 11, 2009.  At the beginning of 2009, I’d like to report on the community economic development (CED) projects I have been working on and make some recommendations to Council.  


Creative Communities

Recommendation: That Council members and staff read Richard Florida’s work, a well-respected economic development specialist who recently moved to Ontario from the U.S. because he feels that Canada is well positioned to compete in the global knowledge economy.  See report he has submitted to the Premier: “Ontario in the Creative Age”.


Arts and Cookery Bank

SWM’s participation in the Arts and Cookery Bank’s regional programming and branding has great potential to get this area “back on the map”.  Thank you for seeing the value of this project, even though the actual building is not within SWM borders.


Regional Cultural Map

Lori Watson and I are working on the Cultural Advisory Roundtable to prepare a cultural map.  This map will be on-line and printed on paper and will contain all the tangible cultural assets for SWM, Dutton Dunwich, West Elgin, and Newbury. 

Recommendation: That Council support SWM staff’s time required to make this an excellent resource, i.e. help gather the data for the data base.


Google Map

Recommendation: That Council in concert with Middlesex County, Elgin County, the CFDCs, and local business associations work on a strategy to get our businesses and non-profits located on Google Map.  Google Map is a user created platform, designed to allow each business to post their information connected to their latitude and longitude.  This means that businesses need to register and provide their information directly to Google.

It is critical that our rural businesses keep up with the tools on-line.  We are falling behind due to the lag time in high-speed availability.  Now that faster connection speeds are available, we need to train businesses how to use the tools that will help their businesses. 


Seniors’ Supportive Housing

Beattie Haven is working on a needs assessment re: seniors housing in this area and is looking forward to sharing the results with Council.  In the background research, we have discovered that Beattie Haven Retirement Community is a progressive model for the future. 

Recommendation: That Council join in the examination of supportive housing for seniors with Beattie Haven and the Your Wardsville community association in the coming months.


Wardsville revitalization

Thank you to SWM Council members for all the support given to the residents of Wardsville and area.  The next step is to prepare a community plan that defines a vision and strategy for the future.  The GIS and Urban Planning department of Fanshawe College is very interested in working with Your Wardsville community association and the broader community. 

Recommendation: That Council support a community planning workshop as well as the June 20th Duncombe Days as part of KinDay.


Natural Heritage a Big Asset

London starting to focus on the river.  London Free Press series, the river, a success.  The river and Carolinian forest are an important asset.  Skunk’s Misery finally is recognized for its importance with actual dollars to purchase and preserve.  Need accommodations and small business: five star camping, B&Bs.



The five counties of South Central Ontario Region are moving ahead with their strategic plan and benchmarking process.  We are at the far west end of this region.  What strategic advantage do we offer to the larger region?  How can we differentiate ourselves from the pack? 

Recommendation:  That Council participate in the SCOR process and provide their input at early stages.  Check web-site.  That Council continue working on its strategic plan in collaboration with residents, businesses, neighbourhoods, and community organizations.


Community Futures Development Corporation – Middlesex County

Recommendation: That Council help identify Board members to represent this part of the County. 


Welcome Wagon

Recommendation: That Council work on a Welcoming program with Your Wardsville to ensure new residents get a hearty welcome when they move in to this area.

“Creatives” and entrepreneurs are moving to the community and need our support. Let’s give them a good old fashioned country welcome.


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