The Thompson Economic Diversification Working Group (TEDWG) held a public open house on June 7 to bring community members up to date on their work done to date and goals moving forward as rePlanís involvement begins to wind down as consultants for the working group.
The open house was facilitated and hosted by rePlan representatives Michelle Drylie and Laura Mannell.
Discussed in the rePlan presentation was the need to leverage Thompson and the regionís strong resource sector in order to foster the development of other economic sectors.
Lovro Paulic, general manager for the smelter and refinery at Valeís Manitoba Operations here, said Valeís mining plan for Thompson currently runs for another 28 years through 2040.
The working group is looking to increase the number of jobs through economic diversification, as well as providing a high level of service within Thompson, while investing in infrastructure development to accommodate population and economic growth in the long term.
The TEDWG process boils down to building a sustainable community through five main action plans. These plans are: a restorative justice facility, education and training, housing, local and regional identity and economic development.
To date more than a year after the process began, most action plans are still in their infant stages, with introductory or baseline studies being done in order to get a clearer understanding of how to move forward with building a sustainable economy following the closure of Valeís smelter and refinery in 2015.
An action plan for a restorative justice facility was developed in February, while an education baseline study was completed in March.
The issue of housing, and vacancy rates have been a long standing topic of conversation among residents and city officials alike. A baseline analysis has been conducted by rePlan, and their main focus lies with affordable housing and transitional housing.
City council recently passed resolutions to acquire parcels of land for residential, commercial and industrial development.
When Thompsonís census numbers were released, showing a decline in population, the topic of a local and regional identity came to the forefront, as a means to retain residents and restore a sense of community pride.
rePlan have held four sub-committee meetings in 2012, looking at matters regarding culture, and tourism, asking the questions of what is Thompson today and where does Thompson want to be in 10 years?
Enter Volker Beckmann, who has co-ordinated an international wolf conference to take place in Thompson in October. The conference is aimed at establishing an identity for Thompson as the wolf capital of North America.
Economic development in Thompson will be an ongoing process, and rePlan had their first sub-committee meeting in February.
Organizations such as Thompson Unlimited, Community Futures North Central Development, the Communities Economic Development Fund, University College of the North (UCN), Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), Keewatin Tribal Council (KTC), Northern Association of Community Councils (NACC) and belatedly last Nov. 17 Ė six months after the process began Ė the Province of Manitoba, have all been at the table with rePlan and TEDWG. Notably, USW Local 6166, one of the biggest and most important players potentially declined to buy in and sign on to take part in TEDWG.
Discussion has been focused on defining economic development and how to link the implementation of TEDWG priority projects to existing agencies.
An economic development action plan will detail how the work of TEDWG will continue beyond 2012.