The Infrastructure Task Force is comprised of community leaders from many different areas and organizations across Northwestern Ontario.
Its vision is to support and create vibrant communities with growing opportunities and sustainable services for all people at all phases of life in Northwestern Ontario.
Its mission is to coordinate and support the efforts of organizational and community leaders in addressing the infrastructure issues impacting Northwestern Ontario.
Infrastructure Task Force Objectives
Objective 1: Identify gaps in infrastructure, government resources and processes and to recommend public policy initiatives to fill those gaps with innovative changes
Social Infrastructure is a topic that impacts every aspect of our lives. In today’s era of shrinking budgets and fewer resources, it is critical to develop innovative solutions to solve gaps in this critical system. Focus for this topic would identify gaps in, and facilitate improvements for, accessing funding and the related processes from the federal, provincial and municipal orders of government to support innovative infrastructure requirements in Northwestern Ontario. Identifying methods to encourage municipalities to save for the future, identifying opportunities for experiential learning and overcoming our natural resistance to change, are some general items to address in creating innovative policy and solutions that address infrastructure support in our region. Social infrastructure such as health care, affordable housing, rent guarantees, assisted living and increased attention to rural/remote community needs might also be discussed in this area. Methods to support communities in gaining access to this funding by eliminating policy roadblocks, improving the navigation of the application process itself and effectively implementing these solutions within our communities could be worked on.
Objective 2: Identify and engage key infrastructure influencers* to assist in the development of public policy solutions that will facilitate infrastructure improvements
Efforts in this section will identify ways that people with influence in the region can affect change, not only at the federal and provincial government levels, but across the region to stimulate and influence infrastructure policy. Focus in this area could provide solutions and networking ideas to improve collaboration between advocacy groups, civic leaders, Indigenous groups and others to eliminate policy barriers and overcome legal challenges at all levels.
Objective 3: Identify support needed by entrepreneurs and businesses to assist in developing infrastructure* and processes
Supporting entrepreneurs and business in developing infrastructure requirements would look at what needs and ideas are being promoted by regional business interests, municipal leaders, development officers and other community partners that could possibly be assisted with. This topic could address ways that business and entrepreneurs could engage with on-going processes and outreach activity to get themselves involved with the infrastructure issues and the solutions that address their specific interests.
Objective 4: Identify Indigenous specific issues related to infrastructure challenges outside of Reserve areas:
a) by consulting with Indigenous agencies, and
b) by consulting municipalities and their service providers to determine the impacts created in the communities by the infrastructure challenges related to, and impacting, the Indigenous populations in those areas, and
c) to recommend public policy changes designed to facilitate positive and innovative resolutions to those infrastructure issues for the Indigenous populations and communities affected.
Indigenous related issues in respect to infrastructure challenges are many and varied. Work in this area would focus on success stories to inform and engage Indigenous communities in order to create robust partnerships, while at the same time look to identify and focus on how to meet the basic infrastructure needs of First Nations communities through education, funding, jobs creation or resource sharing. This discussion would take an inclusive approach to how leaders and key influencers might work better together and/or develop new contacts to solve infrastructure issues related to their communities.
Objective 5: Identify the support required by individuals, families, and communities to improve equal access to and to mitigate the negative impacts of the lack of access, or participation in, social infrastructure
To ensure inclusive access to infrastructure by all the people in our region, focus must be directed to where the required infrastructure does not yet exist or currently falls short. For families to be fully engaged in their communities and in the workforce, they must have access to the basic infrastructure requirements. Lack of broadband internet, siloed social services or ‘band-aid’ solutions applied to basic needs creates evolving gaps in infrastructure that require innovative solutions to resolve. Urban, rural and remote infrastructure needs will be different, along with the divergent methods under discussion to meet them. This topic could identify possible mechanisms to improve families access to affordable, assisted living or group housing while also discussing the improved use of community centres. Other key issues, especially for remote communities, is the access to the basic infrastructure supports such as food, clean water and hydro at a reasonable cost. Access to education infrastructure is always an issue with multiple school boards and divergent curriculums exerting influence that do not always meet community or cultural needs. It is very clear that from one community to the next, a cookie-cutter approach does not fit all, so many innovative solutions could be developed to overcome infrastructure shortfalls.