Public input wanted on economic plan

Flin Flon’s business community is looking to get the public’s opinion on the future of the region.

A pair of consultation meetings will be held Dec. 2 at Flin Flon city hall. An afternoon session will be held from 2 p.m.-4 p.m., with an evening session from 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

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The three municipalities have partnered with Community Futures Greenstone and B.C.-based consulting firm EDCD Consulting to put together an economic development transition action plan.

Becky Cianflone is the executive director of Community Futures Greenstone. She said this plan will be the culmination of work that started this spring.

“We’re looking at how ready our community is for investment,” Cianflone said.

“The next piece is to put this all together into one consolidated plan, to talk about where we are now and what we need to do to improve things from an economic development perspective. These consultations are intended to provide input into the next phase.”

While the general public is invited to the meetings, the consultants will also be meeting with more focused groups. Cianflone said they have specific meetings set up for youth, Indigenous peoples, tourism, mining and education.

“We put this program together with the understanding that, even if Hudbay announces tomorrow that they've got ore for the next 20 years, we still need to take these steps,” she said.

“We still need to do a good job of planning for the community. Economic development needs to be a priority and it needs to be relevant, even if the mining sector is doing really well.”

Cianflone said she’s optimistic about the area’s economic future, pointing to recent announcements from the Saskatchewan government to encourage investment in mining.

“We have some really strong leadership in all three of the communities that are willing to work together that are willing to think outside the box and look at new opportunities,” she said.

“I think that there is a good sense of optimism in the [mining] industry. Right now, we need to stay the course and wait for more good news out of the mining sector.”

Cianflone also stressed the importance of diversifying outside of mining.

“We're also hearing good news out of the tourism sector,” she said.

“There’s an extra one per cent bump to Travel Manitoba’s budget for the upcoming year. That's good news for Flin Flon. We have some really great small businesses that want to stay here, that want to expand here, that want to grow their employees here. There's still a lot of reasons to be optimistic.”

Cianflone said over her time in Flin Flon, she’s seen more desire for communities to work together.

“In the four years that I've been here, I'm seeing an increased appetite to work together and to collaborate and row the boat in the same direction,” she said.

“That's very encouraging. That's the only way that the communities can be successful going forward.”

Cianflone encourages everyone to come out to help shape the future of the region.

“Even if you think that you don't have a role to play in economic development, you do,” she said.

“If you work here, if you own a home here, if you shop here, if you have any part in this community, take advantage of the opportunity to provide input into the process and the future of our communities.”

Cianflone also acknowledged that people may be getting worn out hearing about economic doom and gloom

“I think in some ways, northern Manitoba has been consulted a lot over the last couple of years,” she said.

“Between the strategy, between Look North, between the tourism strategy, I hope that people can see that it's because there's a willingness to move our communities ahead. There's a willingness to get new ideas and to get people involved and

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