Local Economic Development and Green Jobs Plan
As a chartered accountant, I have seen first-hand how important a strong local economy is in sustaining growth in local communities. I have also seen what happens to communities that are not able to create jobs and opportunity or cannot find skilled workers to fill its labour needs. There is no issue more important in Parry Sound-Muskoka than local economic development. We need high-quality, year-round jobs and opportunities that keep skilled workers here at home.
That’s why I have released this plan for local economic development, jobs and growth. This plan draws on my significant private sector business experience, but more importantly my conversations with business leaders across the riding. I have heard a lot about the challenges we face together, but I also have great confidence in our local business stakeholders. A stronger local economy is achievable, but we need a fresh approach.
My plan has three parts:
1. Optimize Parry Sound-Muskoka for emerging industries.
2. Attract high growth industries where we have a local competitive advantage.
3. Get all levels of government working together to facilitate growth and skilled labour
Optimize Parry Sound-Muskoka for emerging industries
Let's make Parry Sound-Muskoka a more attractive place to start or grow a business in the fields that will drive job creation in the years to come.
This means investments in areas such as high-speed broadband internet, rapid transit and affordable housing. Let's make it easier for families to locate here, or remain in the community they grew up in.
We also need more educational opportunities here at home so that local residents can acquire the skills they need for the jobs of the future without having to move. This benefits both workers and employers. While this is the responsibility of the provincial government, the federal government needs to be a partner in making these investments happen.
Attract growth industries where we have a local competitive advantage
Our riding is located in the most beautiful part of the country, but we can turn the natural beauty and strength of the area into more than just precarious seasonal tourism jobs.
We are already a leader in green technology, with local businesses in fields as diverse as green construction, infrastructure renewal (such as the ground-breaking pipe-cleaning technology at Envirologics in Bracebridge) and renewable energy. Let's work together as a community to brand Parry Sound-Muskoka as the hub for these technologies in Canada.
With our local demographics, we also have an opportunity to be Canada's leader in retirement living, healthcare and long-term care for seniors.
Our incredible lakes and waterways mean we can be a leader in clean water and wastewater technology in addition to the watersports and outdoor activities we already excel at.
Finally, with so many incredible local artisans and so much natural beauty here in our home, we have an opportunity to become an arts and culture hub that creates jobs and celebrates the achievements of our local artists.
But we need to work together to sell these great strengths to Canada and the World to ensure we capitalize on this potential.
Get all levels of government working together to facilitate growth and the creation of skilled labour
As Conservatives, we know that government doesn't create jobs - it creates the conditions for solid job growth - but in order to maximize economic expansion, we need all levels of government pulling in the same direction.
I will fight for our fair share of FedNor funding, and where necessary, push to reform FedNor to make it more accountable to local residents who are supposed to benefit from these funds.
I will convene a local economic development committee which includes all three levels of government to ensure we are working towards fewer and smarter business regulations, minimized red tape and fair and transparent processes for obtaining government funding and infrastructure investments.
“More than ever, we need leadership that will work with governments of all levels to help develop infrastructure that can facilitate things like training centres, business hubs and other entities to attract new businesses, entrepreneurs and year-round employment. We need to strive to make Parry Sound-Muskoka not only known as cottage country, but also a world leader in environmental innovation and enterprise.
I’m voting for Holly Thompson because she is the only candidate with substantive business experience, and I know she will deliver on these promises.”
Dave Smith, Local Resort / Waterfront Community Developer and Operator
Flood Prevention and Watershed Management Plan
As our community recovers from its second 'hundred-year flood' in six years in the Muskoka River Watershed, it is time to act quickly and decisively to ensure that we are prepared for next spring and the years beyond.
I know that many of you were directly impacted by the floods this year. My own home was evacuated for a few days as water levels rose, so I know first-hand the impact uncontrolled flooding can have. The actions and leadership of the Canadian Forces troops and first responders who assisted was timely and exceptionally helpful. Just as inspiring the response of the community who came together to fill sandbags, pump water and help out our fellow neighbours.
But we shouldn't have to do this every year. We need a plan, and we need action now!
In early June, I released my Muskoka River Flood Prevention and Watershed Management Plan which you may have seen in the following media coverage:
My plan has three pillars:
1. Muskoka River Watershed Flood Plan: developing a new watershed flood plan based on the latest experience, information, and technology
2. Infrastructure Review: reviewing and upgrading existing infrastructure like dams and bridges
3. Safety and Risk Mitigation Program: developing a new flood safety and damage mitigation program in consultation with the community
Muskoka River Watershed Flood Plan
My plan will update the Muskoka River Water Management Plan, incorporating flood control as a core principle.
The new Plan will use current flood mapping as well as weather and climate data from recent years including the 2013 and 2019 floods. It will also incorporate the latest satellite imagery on water levels and snowpack.
All of this information should be made available to the public and invite community consultation on what regulations need to be made going forward to protect against devastating floods in the future.
All three levels of government must be involved - including potentially six federal government departments - and as MP, I will be a leader in the ongoing process to involve all local stakeholders to get this plan in place.
We will closely review the Watershed’s 42 existing water control structures, dams and dykes and evaluate their suitability based on recent flooding. Population density and future building construction plans in flood plains will be reviewed.
This review will also consider the existing roads, bridges and culverts, our local hydro-electric commitments and boating and swimming safety considerations.
I will fight for federal funding, supported by contributions from other levels of government, to ensure infrastructure is designed to control flooding in the future.
Safety and Risk Mitigation Program
A risk mitigation plan will be developed and consider the role of the federal government in providing financial assistance for flood insurance.
The Plan will consider revisions to building codes to ensure our clean water is not compromised, and consider subsidizing homeowners in the most vulnerable flood locations.
The Plan also will ensure we have in place an early warning system, rescue plans, sandbag depots, consistent water quality monitoring and other emergency measures where they are needed.
And finally, the Plan will ensure adequate funding is in place for sandbag removal and disposal, and ensure that homeowners and local municipalities are not left footing the entire bill.