Salon Camden – Midland

On June 23, 2012 the Martin Prosperity Institute held the Salon Camden – Midland at the Quest Galleries within the Midland Cultural Centre.  As part of this international series, 11 invited specialists both locally and from Toronto and surrounding region joined Howard Rideout, the architect of the Midland Cultural Centre and Kevin Stolarick from the Martin Prosperity Institute to discuss the creative economy in small towns and it’s roll in their creation of prosperity for these regions.  This event sprung from the release of the Martin Prosperity Institute report, “Benchmarking the Creative Economy in Rural Ontario” which sited Midland as one of 5 case study towns within Ontario.

Upon reflection and distillation of the topics discussed, Howard Rideout has prepared a list of ideas and questions that were touched upon at the event and warrant further discussion about the role that the Midland Cultural Centre can play in the prosperity of both the downtown and it’s surrounding region.

Issues discussed at the event:

  1. Midland is part of string of settlements along South shore of the Severn Sound in Georgian Bay. How can these distinct communities be branded to create a single identity to be used to attract more attention-lure more businesses and individuals to the region?
  2. South Shore of Severn Sound, Georgian Bay and Huronia? Can these be an appropriate brand for the region?
  3. Particular attention was paid to the importance to retaining separate identities for each town while marketing the area to a greater audience.
  4. Geographic location separates regions-North Shore of Severn Sound-Perry Sound and 30,000 islands unique from the south shores of Severn Sound shore.  What are the physical characteristics that define this unique region?
  5. Geographic location can attract residences for quality of life -The difference between a town nestled within farmland compared to those with a waterfront and related activities. What are the characteristics that distinguish Chatham, which is located within a large agricultural region from Midland/Penetanguishene?
  6. Community Building?  How does the community buy into this new institution and develop closer links to all the people of Midland? How do you engage all social economic levels of the community while ensuring that all age groups within the town use the building?
  7. The role that the cottage country plays as a “feeder” to this culture – Attendance from cottage country population supplements the local residences.  How is this encouraging the development of this community?
  8. Creativity – how has it changed? The youth have a different concept of the “medium” for creativity.  The use of technology allows for people to work locally and send their products internationally through digital means. – Steve killing and Howard Rideout both work using the internet to work on projects throughout the world.  Why would Midland/South Georgian Bay be the site people would want to locate as home base for this type of international work?  What are the amenities that are lacking in this area that other city regions have?  Is Midland close enough to an international city like Toronto to piggyback on some of those larger facilities- will smaller facilities fill the gap for most day-to-day experiences?  Does the Midland Cultural Centre fill that gap?
  9. Obsolete buildings can provide places for inexpensive creation.  Does the area have this obsolete infrastructure and if so how can this be utilized to attract creative individuals and organizations?
  10.  Role of Places of Learning to development
    1. Keeping the youth in town (Midland has a higher percentage of retired people than Toronto)
    2. Attract Youth from out of town
    3. Education opens youth to the world outside of small towns-double edged sword- once they see the world they want to head out into it to pursue their specific goals-Small towns may have limited ability to keep these people that search for more globally.
    4. How can these facilities be placed to provide the most effective synergies-Suburban or urban campuses-Value of both?
    5. How do satellite campuses provide nodes of learning throughout a region?
    6. What facilities does the region around Midland already have?
  11. Port McNicoll – Role of new development – Keewatin in its transformation
  12. Why has Midland prospered while Port McNicoll has languished?  Is the Cultural Centre in Midland just part of the continued success of this area to attract people to its core?
    1. Real investment of culture or culture used as a lure for promotion?
    2. Will the success of the development trickle down some economic development to the established community of Port McNicoll.
    3. How is the master plan articulated to integrate or segregate these two functions?
    4. Removal of the entire existing industrial infrastructure leaves it without a past?
    5. How is the new design creating this new future?
    6. How does the MCC attract people of all age groups?

While each of these 12 points warranted a discussion on their own, taken together they represent a start to the discussion around preparing this region for its future, positioning it uniquely within the landscape of central Ontario and creating a distinctive brand from the other more established regional identities that have evolved within Ontario.  As the architect of the MCC, I hope that I can work with the local community to articulate the aspects of Midland and Huronia that make it a unique place and thus attract the creative community into this area.

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