Launching Report on the SPARK Housing Initiative – ‘Growing the Long-Term Rental Housing Inventory’

The Meeting Place Tobermory and report author Hazel Smith are pleased to release this new report focusing on long-term rental accommodation in the Northern Bruce. This is an investigative report looking at the many stakeholders in the rental market but most of all the people who need affordable rental housing. The idea of creating more long-term rental accommodation started with the voices of local residents working in the seasonal economy. Ideas percolated over the winter of 2020 from participants in the Spark project. Simply put, could a few of the many STA’s be converted to LTA’s by the owners?  The report digs into the issues and identifies the challenges and possible next steps. The report is realistic and thought-provoking and nothing is viewed through rose coloured glasses.

We hope the report provides some small direction and incentive to the important housing agenda emerging in our community. We believe attaining more affordable housing will make the Northern Bruce the best place to live in the County.

SPARK Project Newsletter, Issue #6

SPARK – Seasonal Workers & Entrepreneurs Spark Ideas (for our Community)

As we follow the Spark project objectives, all the Tobermory Spark initiatives have been developed to their Prototyping stage. Through the summer, project facilitator Rachel McLay has focused on 2 initiatives to advance the Strategy and Testing phase, which includes community outreach and resource development. Noreen Steinacher, Chair at TMP has taken a 3rd initiative down that same path. The work has been challenging but has deepened our knowledge about each of the Spark ideas and the reality of what it takes to develop sustainable community assets.
The COVID-19 crisis over the summer has slowed some of the work with respect to worker engagement as the tourist season in the Northern Bruce bounced back with many demands and different stresses on the workforce. As we move into the fall, more people are available to become involved again.
There is also some exciting news to share. In September, 2020 the Spark project was accepted to participate in Capacity Canada’s Creative Day for Social Good (CD4SG) program which gives projects within nfp organizations free graphic design and communications help to promote ‘ideas for social good’. The vision is that each of the Spark initiatives with be communicated through a creative design and script on a single page for promotion. A team from Conestoga College will be working with Spark. Any local volunteer involvement with this is welcomed.

Here are some of the Spark initiatives undergoing the Strategy and Testing phase right now. With project facilitator, Rachel McLay working 2 days a week, and others volunteering, here are some of the specifics.

  1. Affordable Long Term Rental (LTR) Accommodation Inventory and Supports Development. What Spark is doing!
    • Key informant interviews with local LTA landlords
    • Consultation with the Y in Owen Sound who has experience in developing and managing a housing inventory and is willing to share resources
    • Connecting with municipal and County affordable housing strategy plans
    • Applying for a grant from Community Foundation Grey Bruce for initiative specific resources
  2. E-Bike Social Enterprise focusing on affordable leasing of e-bikes for work and recreation. What Spark is doing!
    • Development and circulation of a feedback or ‘pitch’ video for wider community consultation & feedback
    • Consultation with E-Bike rental organizations and the industry
    • Preparation and completion of the federal Investment Readiness Program grant application for funding, with a focus on TMP moving into a social enterprise experience
  3. ‘Extending the Season’ for more employee security and economic development; a long-standing idea that keeps circling back to the community. What Spark is doing!
    • Securing current data and analysis of the labour force in the Northern Bruce to find out about income sources, equity and where change could happen.

This time period in the Spark project has been a strengthening phase where good ideas emerge into plans. We have evaluated what is more feasible to work on now and have succeeded in making some plans ready to go as opportunities arise; that is to be “shovel ready”. We have until March 2021 to complete the funded part of the Spark project. Not all idea development needs to proceed at the same time or pace. We are counting on some of our community members to feel resilient enough to get re-involved this fall and winter. This will be part of a lesson in how rural community works ahead in a time of crisis.

The Spark Lion’s Head NpCoWork Group has been addressing the question, “What’s Needed for Entrepreneurs to Thrive 12 months of the Year on NBP?” Picking up on momentum there is a goal for the remaining project time frame.

There continues to be opportunity for collaboration between Tobermory and Lion’s Head project work but the emphasis going forward is on the development of each initiative through research, strategizing and testing, growing the number of participants affiliated with each initiative. The use of the on-line ‘Slack’ platform will be re-instituted if it suits the work and the people involved.

The Spark project has received great support and practical ideas from the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force, Tamarack Learning Institute, the Municipality of Northern Bruce, Bruce County, Community Benchmarks Inc. and Capacity Canada. Thanks to everyone involved and to date we have added another 15 community people connecting with Spark for a total of 38 people involved with the project.

Questions, comments or expressions of interest in joining the project can be directed to The Meeting Place Tobermory at 519-596-2313 or info@tobermorymeetingplace.com

Noreen Steinacher MSW RSW
Spark project coordinator at The Meeting Place Tobermory

SPARK Project Newsletter, Issue #5

SPARK – Seasonal Workers & Entrepreneurs Spark Ideas (for our Community)

As we follow the Spark project objectives, the Tobermory Spark Groups have transitioned to a next phase. From January to April, 2020, the intent of the small working groups made up of community volunteer participants, each with a facilitator, was to meet and focus on the first two steps in a design thinking process. The task was to identify creative ideas, small or more comprehensive, which might support seasonal workers and their families and entrepreneurs who are residents of Northern Bruce.

Three groups worked with a process that included Empathy and Need Finding and Idea Generation and Prototyping.  The COVID-19 crisis slowed the work but groups ended up with a good number of ideas ready for further development.

Here are some of the emerging ideas focused on seasonal workers who live here.

  1. Affordable Long Term Rental (LTR) Accommodation Inventory Development and Promotion
  2. Local Ride Share and App development
  3. E-Bike Affordable Leasing for work and recreation, with a future Social Enterprise or business
  4. Virtual Resource Exchange. This initiative began the strategy/testing stage during the ‘lock down’ so will need to be reassessed for future application.
  5. Building a Local ‘People’ Resource Inventory – extension of a Community Asset Map
  6. ‘Extending the Season’; an idea that keeps coming up! – Both an economic development approach and an earnings redistribution approach are of interest. Huge!

With our new project facilitator, Rachel McLay working 2 days a week, the next phase will be to finish the prototyping and move into Strategy and Testing. Here the project takes the ideas and their prototypes and strategizes next steps with the help of community input. For this phase we hope to generate more community interest, research each of the ideas and pull together local people with passion and know how who can make things happen. Not easy during this pandemic recovery time.

Other activities may include talking with our original project supporters and consultants; doing some quick idea ‘pitches’ on-line for feedback and an on-line survey for others in the seasonal workforce; negotiating possible partnerships for some ideas; finding the support and resources for others. This is a strengthening phase where good ideas emerge into plans. We will try to evaluate what is more feasible to work on in the recovery period and what might be left for a later time. We have until March 2021 to complete the funded part of the Spark project. Not all idea development needs to proceed at the same time or pace but it will be good to have prototypes and plans ready to go as opportunities arise; be “shovel ready”. We are counting on some of our community to feel resilient enough to get involved.

Did you know there is a Spark group working in Lion’s Head? The Spark Lion’s Head NpCoWork Group is addressing the question, “What’s Needed for Entrepreneurs to Thrive 12 months of the Year on NBP?” They have also identified a number of emerging ideas and are working on at least one initiative, the e-Market, that is in the testing phase on-line and evaluating how things go.

There continues to be opportunity for collaboration between Tobermory and Lion’s Head project work but the emphasis going forward is on the development of each initiative through research, strategizing and testing, growing the number of participants affiliated with each initiative.

The Spark project has received great support and practical ideas from the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force and Tamarack Learning Institute. The Spark project has also adopted the use of an innovative on-line platform called ‘Slack’, which helps projects like Spark to communicate among members, share documents and research on each initiative and build expertise and learning. Using ‘Slack’ is also a work in progress, especially for volunteers. Thanks to everyone involved and to date we have had 23 people working on Spark.

Questions, comments or expressions of interest in joining the project can be directed to Rachel McLay at The Meeting Place Tobermory at 519-596-2313 or info@tobermorymeetingplace.com

Noreen Steinacher MSW RSW
Spark project coordinator at The Meeting Place Tobermory

SPARK Project Newsletter, Issue #4

SPARK – Seasonal Workers & Entrepreneurs Spark Ideas (for our Community)

As we follow the Spark project objectives, the Tobermory Spark Groups have started to transition to a next phase. From January to April, 2020, the intent of the small working groups made up of community volunteer participants, each with a facilitator, was to meet and focus on the first two steps in a design thinking process. The task was to identify creative ideas, small or more comprehensive, which might support seasonal workers and their families who are residents of Northern Bruce.

Both groups worked with a process that included Empathy and Need Finding and Idea Generation and Prototyping. There was lots of back and forth discussion and some ideas caught hold more than others, which is exactly what was expected.  And then there was COVID-19 to work through, but the groups adjusted for the most part. It was hard not to jump early to try to operationalize before getting buy-in or lining up resources, but the groups ended up with a good number of ideas ready for further development.

Here are some of the emerging ideas.

1) Affordable Long Term Rental (LTR) Accommodation Inventory Development and Promotion

2) Local Ride Share and App development

3) E-Bike Affordable Leasing for work and recreation, with a future Social Enterprise or business

4) Virtual Resource Exchange. This initiative is already in the strategy/testing stage so will need people to keep the momentum going.

5) Building a Local ‘People’ Resource Inventory – extension of a Community Asset Map

6) ‘Extending the Season’; an idea that keeps coming up! – Both an economic development approach and an earnings redistribution approach are of interest.

We are now in “the murky middle” in community development speak.

The next phase will be to finish the prototyping exercises and move into Strategy and Testing. Here the project takes the ideas and their prototypes and strategizes next steps. For this phase we hope to form research groups to work on each idea with each group needing local people with passion and pragmatists who can make things happen.

This phase may involve taking the ideas out into the community for discussion on the important question of how to get community ownership. Other activities may include talking with our original project supporters and consultants; doing some quick idea ‘pitches’ on-line for feedback from others in the seasonal workforce; bringing in new people; negotiating possible partnerships for some ideas; finding the support and resources for others. This is a strengthening phase where good ideas emerge into plans. We will try to evaluate what is more feasible to work on during the COVID-19 isolation and recovery periods and what might be left for a later time. We have until March 2021 to complete the funded part of the Spark project. Not all idea development needs to proceed at the same time or pace but it will be good to have prototypes and plans ready to go as opportunities arise; or “shovel ready”.

Did you know there is a Spark group working in Lion’s Head? The Spark Lion’s Head NpCoWork Group is addressing the question, “What’s Needed for Entrepreneurs to Thrive 12 months of the Year on NBP?” They will continue to meet as a group as they started later in February. However, they have also identified a number of emerging ideas and are working on at least one initiative, the e-Market, that is in the research/strategy/testing phase bringing in new people and moving the idea ahead.

There continues to be opportunity for collaboration between Tobermory and Lion’s Head project work but the emphasis going forward is on the development of each initiative through research, strategizing and testing, growing the number of participants affiliated with each initiative.

The Spark project has recently consulted with the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force and Tamarack Learning Institute receiving good contributing support. The Spark project has also adopted the use of an innovative on-line platform called ‘Slack’, which helps projects like Spark to communicate among members, share documents and research on each initiative and build expertise and learning. Using ‘Slack’ is also a work in progress, especially for volunteers.

Adjustments to this transition plan will be made as needed. Working in and through the COVID-19 time, we are learning the importance of ‘declaring our community essential’ and keeping it that way.

Thanks to everyone. To date we have had 23 people working on Spark.

Questions, comments or expressions of interest in joining the project can be directed to The Meeting Place Tobermory at 519-596-2313 or info@tobermorymeetingplace.com

or Noreen at 519-596-2003 or nsteinacher@amtelecom.net

Noreen Steinacher MSW RSW

Spark project coordinator at The Meeting Place Tobermory

SPARK Project Newsletter, Issue #3

SPARK – Seasonal Workers Spark Ideas (for our Community)

On January 11, 2020 the SPARK project orientation meeting convened under snowy skies and 13 participants started the Spark project off with great energy and thoughtful comments and ideas. We accomplished a lot. A few members were absent due to weather and winter.

Working Group 1 with Yvette as facilitator: Kim, Andrea, Hazel, Julie and Tyler: first meeting date is Thursday, January 23, 20120 10am – 12 noon at The Meeting Place.

Working Group 2 with Sharon as facilitator: Jen, Mandy, Gillian, Wendy; first meeting is Tuesday, January 28, 1-3pm at The Meeting Place.

Wishing everyone well as we start this process using the ICE framework: Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship. Facilitators have all the project information covered on ICE and the beginning list generated on need identification for the seasonal workforce. Group facilitators are off and running, sharing meeting logistics and input going forward.

Groups have access to a set of resources and local ‘consultants’ for support in the areas of Business, Entrepreneurship, Health, Children & Family, Finances, Food Security, Transportation, Community Systems and Housing and this list will be updated as more local experts join the project. What great support!

Jennifer Cuffe and Noreen Steinacher are working behind the scenes at The Meeting Place to keep the lines of communication open between SPARK and the community and other related initiatives such as the Tobermory Housing Committee, Sustainable Tourism plan and Young Professionals discussion & working groups.

Questions? Call The Meeting Place Tobermory at 519-596-2313 or contact info@tobermorymeetingplace.com and leave your name, number and note of interest with Jennifer.

SPARK Project Newsletter, Issue #2

SPARK – Seasonal Workers Spark Ideas (for our Community)

The Meeting Place in Tobermory is moving ahead with a new 2-year project. SPARK is all about looking at the seasonal economy and ‘building social capital’ with your ideas (new resources, new relationships that work for workers). We are still looking for interested people to join the project, who self identify as seasonal workers and who are mostly living year round on the Northern Bruce. If you are curious and comfortable enough working in a small group with like-minded people we’ll fill you in on the rest. You’ve got the expertise. We are starting to pull people together in January 2020 – so mark the date Saturday afternoon, January 11, 1-3pm at The Meeting Place Tobermory. To start, it’s a 4-month commitment to meet once a month, Jan. – April. There will be a small payment provided to those participating in the project. Want to join? Questions? Call The Meeting Place Tobermory at 519-596-2313 or contact info@tobermorymeetingplace.com and leave your name, number and note of interest with Jennifer.

SPARK Project Newsletter, Issue #1

SPARK – Seasonal Workers Spark Ideas (for our Community)

The Meeting Place in Tobermory is starting a new 2-year project. SPARK is all about ‘building social capital’ with your ideas (new resources, new relationships). We are looking for interested people to join the project, who self identify as seasonal workers and who are living year round on the Northern Bruce. If you are curious and comfortable enough working in a small group with like-minded people we’ll fill you in on the rest. You’ve got the expertise. We are starting in December 2019 – so hold the date Saturday afternoon, December 14. To start, it’s a 5-month commitment to meet once a month Dec. – April. There will be a small payment provided to those participating in the project. Want to join? Questions? Call The Meeting Place Tobermory at 519-596-2313 or contact info@tobermorymeetingplace.com and leave your name, number and note of interest with Jennifer.