‘In­ode’ Im­ple­ments Com­pre­hen­sive De­vel­op­ment Plan

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Made­line Mul­hol­land Stanstead

In­ode Es­trie is a de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tive that started in a tiny town with a pop­u­la­tion of 450 peo­ple. A town so small you could count its’ cit­i­zens pre­cisely. Eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in small, ru­ral towns is of­ten a chal­lenge. Un­less one finds a vein of gold nearby, chances are good that in­dus­try is not go­ing to come knock­ing where there is no skilled em­ployee base. Hence, cit­i­zens of smaller towns must travel to find em­ploy­ment when self em­ploy­ment is not an op­tion. For those un­able to af­ford a car, we can imag­ine where one’s sit­u­a­tion goes from there.

Small towns are some­times small for rea­sons that are not en­tirely pos­i­tive. Towns iso­lated from in­dus­try and em­ploy­ment of­ten have low rents that at­tract peo­ple with low in­comes, but then serves to iso­late them fur­ther from ed­u­ca­tional, so­cial and fi­nan­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties that could help them im­prove their fi­nan­cial out­look. Youth are of­ten forced to leave in or­der to study or find em­ploy­ment, fur­ther de­creas­ing a town’s pop­u­la­tion and, over time, de­creas­ing the per­cent­age of high in­come earn­ers in favour of those who are el­derly, un­der-em­ployed or un­em­ployed. This in turn de­creases tax rev­enues for a town that may not have the pop­u­la­tion and in­dus­try base to ad­e­quately meet their tax re­quire­ments.

This is an over­sim­pli­fied as­sess­ment, but pro­vides the con­text in which many peo­ple find them­selves cut off from re­sources to bet­ter them­selves, be it through ed­u­ca­tion or bet­ter em­ploy­ment. Towns in this sit­u­a­tion are of­ten as mo­ti­vated as their cit­i­zens to turn the sit­u­a­tion around through de­vel­op­ment, but it is some­times eas­ier said than done. The old adage ‘You need money to make money’ may hold a great deal of truth.

En­ter In­ode Es­trie, a lo­cal de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tive that be­gan in the small, ru­ral town of Sainte-Camille, which had a de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tion prob­lem and sought to es­tab­lish new res­i­dents in its’ ter­ri­tory. The town has re­cently grown to a pop­u­la­tion of 500 from 450 in the course of one year. There are tan­gi­ble ex­am­ples of In­ode Es­trie ini­tia­tives that have ac­counted for new­com­ers pur­chas­ing homes in the com­mu­nity.

The ini­tia­tive has be­come a three year, re­gional de­mo­graphic de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tive funded by the East­ern Town­ships’ Youth Fo­rum and the Re­gional Con­fer­ence of Elected Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. The scope has widened and In­ode Es­trie will now tar­get 18 pi­lot mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the Town­ships’ 6 RCM’s by 2013, all of which will ben­e­fit from the sup­port staff of In­ode Es­trie and lo­cal RCM’s. Stanstead sub­mit­ted its’ ap­pli­ca­tion to be­come a pi­lot mu­nic­i­pal­ity, which was ac­cepted in Fe­bru­ary, 2011.

The first step will be for the town to carry out a needs as­sess­ment and tai­lor their de­vel­op­ment plan to tar­get both the strengths and weak­nesses Stanstead faces in its’ bid to grow and im­prove its pop­u­la­tion and re­sources. This stage has been com­pleted. Aspects to be tar­geted are the re­ten­tion of lo­cal youth; ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment of sin­gle moth­ers; growth of lo­cal in­dus­try and ef­forts to move lo­cal em­ploy­ment de­pen­dency away from the gran­ite in­dus­try; at­trac­tion of new res­i­dents; the de­vel­op­ment of both down­town cores and the wa­ter­front; the pro­mo­tion of lo­cal busi­nesses; and the ar­chi­tec­tural restora­tion of the down­town core. Also to be tar­geted are the strengths of Stanstead, such as the his­tor­i­cal and ar­chi­tec­tural her­itage, the vicin­ity to the bor­der and the Tomi­fo­bia River, to name a few.

The plan is com­pre­hen­sive and tai­lored to ad­dress fac­tors iden­ti­fied as rel­e­vant through re­search and cen­sus data per­tain­ing to lo­cal de­mo­graph­ics. The chair com­mit­tee has al­ready drawn up its’ plan, which will be sub­mit­ted to mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil in Oc­to­ber for their thoughts and feed­back. The In­ode Es­trie pro­gram will run for three years and will con­sist of sub-com­mit­tees that will each tar­get spe­cific ini­tia­tives.

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