What if the municipal boundaries were dropped and all energy focussed on quality of life and community, environmental health and economic development for Muskoka as a whole? What would be the advantage of pooling our strengths and resources?
On the economic front, prosperity and innovation demand regional perspectives. Competition among municipalities is a trademark of rural Ontario. We often refer with fondness to traditional rivalries between sports teams, quality of local services and infrastructure. But in today’s global economy, it is imperative that we assume a vision that extends beyond our municipal boundary. What would result if we brought all of the municipal economic developers, information technology and mapping specialists together in one office? What a powerhouse! The generation of ideas and the ability to innovate and respond to opportunities would grow exponentially. Some ideas are larger than any one municipality can own or maximize. The notion of making Muskoka a centre of excellence in education, for example, is one that pops up consistently. But who has the authority and responsibility to explore the opportunities…. and build the linkages among the formal and non-formal educational organizations and institutions already in Muskoka? How too do we fill the spaces between the efforts of municipalities, community organizations, institutions, and business? Those within the community who have District-wide interests and seek to communicate with public sector leaders face the daunting task of addressing six municipal councils plus the District.
A strong, progressive and coordinated Muskoka is attractive to those considering the option of making this the home for their family or business. The creative economy attracts the ‘footloose’. These are the new economy workers who are attracted by quality of community, cultural vibrancy and an exceptional natural environment. We are blessed with all three. It is important now that we put the structures in place that enables this new economy to flourish.