BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: The need for youth engagement, an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong small-town character are among the findings of the North Durham Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan, recently approved by all three North Durham Councils.
The plan, presented to Uxbridge and Brock councillors this week, seven days after its discussion in Scugog Council chambers, outlines the profiles of North Durham's three municipalities, their respective challenges to economic expansion and plans to overcome those obstacles. As of Monday evening (June 24), all three councils have endorsed the plan.
The four pillars of the plan include being open for business, inspiring and supporting entrepreneurship, building a future for young adults and creating a strong rural and small-town identity.
Nancy Rutherford, Durham's manager of economic development and planning in agriculture and rural affairs, conducted the recent presentations to local councils. The latest draft of the plan, said Ms. Rutherford, follows a draft presented to councils in March.
"We delved into the details," said Ms. Rutherford, adding the plan would take place over five years, "and came up with a good economic action plan for each municipality…. You want to see action if you want to see results."
While the latest version of the plan generated some brief discussion at Scugog Council last week, in Uxbridge it received the same criticisms as did the draft earlier this spring, in particular the emphasis on the creation of future government agencies to aid businesses. Ms. Rutherford explained that such programs would be funded at the provincial level.
"I have a mixed review of the plan," said Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle. "A lot of work has gone into it and there are some good tangibles, but a lot of government speak in some of these action plans. I don't know what they mean or would entail. Who pays for these programs and what evidence is there that these programs will meet goals in plan? We need to make the system easier rather than give them another map."
Other criticisms were leveled at just what accomplishments the plan will achieve in terms of business creation. While she did not provide specific responses to those queries, Ms. Rutherford stressed that the plan is a "living document," explaining that actions will be tweaked as the strategy progresses and that the four main directives will interlock with each other.
The plan will now be implemented at the municipal and Regional level, with quarterly updates on its annual progress.
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