A few weeks ago, at an event hosted by Thunder Bay’s Community Economic Development Commission, reknowned business writer Gordon Pitt stated, “Thunder Bay is a western city”. In his talk with local business leaders, Pitt outlined what he sees as the future of Canada.
That future is in the west. The future will be realized by investing in our youth, and in new ideas, and new technologies that will generate future employment.
That is why personally, the news that Thunder Bay is seeking recognition from the United Nations as an age friendly city strikes me as looking in the wrong direction.
The west is young, exciting, and innovative. It is respectful of its roots, but it isn’t so focused on reliving its past, it is reaching out to new and exciting technologies and industries.
In Thunder Bay, we need to continue on the path of innovation, it is actually what led us to our past successes. It was in the development of new and innovative ways to handle grain that our community became a leader in shipping.
Today, our port is shifting. Part of the change is one of technology, as the Seaway ages, Thunder Bay, Nipigon and Red Rock are now seeing the potential of greater cruise ship traffic. In addition, there are more shipments arriving in Thunder Bay destined to the growing economic power of the Oil Sands in Western Canada.
It is likely that one of the future major infrastructure projects may be a solid plan to upgrade the Seaway to allow for greater shipping. Part of the vision for future success in Thunder Bay may be in the needed upgrades to the Seaway.
All said however, the vision for Thunder Bay’s future should not be locked in the past, and amazingly some in our city seem to feel that it should be. Those are easy to see, they are the ones counting on a return to the glories of the past in forestry with high-paying jobs in the mills that might somehow re-open.
They are seeing the future in remaining static, not changing, and embracing that which is old and leaving the youth to the backburner. Our future is not in our senior citizens, they hold our storied past firmly in their hands.
Today’s task is building a new future based on the youth and on new opportunities. That is not to suggest leaving our past in the dust, but for many in our city it is time to turn around, stop looking in the rearview mirror with a solid focus.
It is time for change.
Frankly, a lot of the change that is needed is already happening. Often however it is not found in the press releases from politicians, nor is it found in government announcements of spending projects.
The real change that Thunder Bay needs is happening already. It is coming, in many cases from a new breed of residents. Many are the young people who have, and are returning to Thunder Bay after attending university, or working outside of our city.
They have gathered experiences and knowledge from other communities and have seen the best from Thunder Bay, and the best from places they have lived, and visited.
Their return is likely to continue to fuel the real change that our city, and region needs.
No offense to the older generation, and to those holding elected office who still see our future in the past, but it is the new breed of Thunder Bay citizen who is going to blaze the trail forward into our future.
In many ways those looking in the rearview mirror are most likely to slow down the progress and impede our future.
Our city’s best days are still to come. All the economic indicators are showing that we are on the way up. The biggest change that the young people are bringing forward is a spirit of confidence and entreprenuership larger than we have seen in generations.
That of course is just my opinion, as always, your mileage may vary!
Let’s go Thunder Bay, our future awaits us!