POV: Northeastern Ontario municipal leaders have the right idea – by Wayne Snider (The Daily Press – June 21, 2011)

Wayne Snider is the city editor for The Daily Press, the city of Timmins newspaper. Contact the writer at news@thedailypress.ca.

In September, community leaders will get together to plan a campaign in hopes of kick starting growth in the region. Members of the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association (NEOMA) recognize the challenges facing the region and hope to not only stem youth out migration, but find ways to attract more people to the area.

The goal is not only to maintain the lifestyle Northerners have come to love, but use it as a selling point to people sick of the urban jungle. It’s a very proactive approach and, if successful, would increase the tax base and human resources of our little corner of the province.

“Our way of life is critical to who we are as a people,” said Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis at a recent NEOMA session. “We need to stand up and do something about it.

“Rather than look at marketing and campaigning as last resorts, make it a priority.”

Promoting the North to the rest of the province shouldn’t be a hard sell. The area has so much to offer.

There is the natural beauty of the Northeast, with year-round recreational opportunities.

We have some of the best camping, hiking, hunting and fishing opportunities anywhere in the world. There is a plethora of activities such as snowmobiling, downhill and cross-country skiing, canoing and kayaking — all of which have seen massive improvements in the last few years thanks to a small army of dedicated volunteers.

We have a ready made bilingual service force, which increases the demographic of the target audience for any marketing campaign.

There are economic growth opportunities in the North. Big time opportunities. A lot of wealth is being created, and with projects such as the Ring of Fire on the horizon, more will come. Selling our communities and the lifestyle opportunities we offer can play a roll in not only attracting people to the area, but economic growth.

Imagine, standing in a subway in Toronto, it’s mid-August. You are packed in like sardines. Due to the hot, humid weather, the car reeks of human perspiration. You are staring at a photo of a Northern lake, forest, or other outdoor scene from God’s country.

I looks like paradise.

Would you rather spend up to 10 hours a week on that subway, just getting to and from the daily grind, or in an area that isn’t over-populated, is safe for your kids, and has plenty of fresh air for all?

Northeastern Ontario has needed such a push for years. Northern municipal leaders are to be commended for taking the initiative and starting to plan a marketing and lobbying strategy.

For the rest of this column, please go to the Timmins Daily Press website: http://www.thedailypress.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3179000