Over 50 people participated in the 2015 Irish Loop Regional Collaboration Conference #ILRCC in Trepassey on October 21/22. Pat Curran of Independent Consultants Group (ICG) facilitated the event with technology, tools and talent provided by Jamilee Fitzpatrick and Michelle Yetman from the NL Government Office of Public Engagement (OPE).
After registration and a sumptuous dinner at Trepassey Motel sponsored by CBDC Celtic, participants reconvened in the Social Centre for the evening presentation by Dr. Alvin Simms from Memorial University and the Harris Centre.
Dr. Simms discussed issues around ‘service expectations’ and ‘functional regions’ and offered an interesting GIS-based graphical representation of the Irish Loop. Highlighting traffic flow, trade routes and proximity to public services — like healthcare — Dr. Simms gave those in attendance a realistic picture of how communities function and how people live, work and socialize. He was very clear to point out throughout that, “Regionalization doesn’t mean Amalgamation”. Dr. Simms suggested that in his experience working all over the world, communities retain their identity and civic pride while benefiting and growing because of improved service provision and quality of life enabled through Regionalization.
After Dr. Simms’ presentation, there was a lot of interesting and animated discussion. Jamiliee then asked the group to write down their responses to the question of what services they felt should be regional and what ones not. That would set the tone for the break-out sessions to come tomorrow.
A magnificant morning dawned in Trepassey. Brilliant sunlight sparkled off the night’s heavy frost. A hearty breakfast sponsored by Thompson Concepts fuelled the morning sessions as the facilitators broke the group into team tables to tackle specific challenges and opportunities. Ed Grant, Chair of Eastern Regional Service Board and Ken Kelly, CAO of Eastern Waste Management provided an overview from the floor of how their organizations can broker shared support services such as animal control, or building inspectors etc. and assist municipalities achieve better economies and improved services through communication and collaboration.
Minister Keith Hutchings, MHA delivered the keynote luncheon address sponsored by ICG wherein he discussed an upcoming drinking water pilot project — identifying a number of Irish Loop communities who are part of that study. He also pointed to Mistaken Point and the work by the Ambassadors as proof of what working together can accomplish and the regional potential presented by UNESCO designation of the site.
ILCC is very pleased and would like to thank Minister Hutchings’ for announcing government’s support for outreach and collaboration with Irish Chambers of Commerce in rural regions of that country. The NW Ireland region, in particular, faces many of the same challenges — geographical, demographical, and cultural — that exist on the Irish Loop. We will meet and discuss their successes and misfires and come away with ideas, contacts and best practices that we will share with the local business community in the coming months.
Nutrition breaks were sponsored/provided by Irish Loop Chamber of Commerce and Trepassey Motel. (Wicked warm chocolate chip cookies!)
As the afternoon wound up, various groups were assigned action items and agreed to reconvene and report on their findings in November. As she had done throughout the day, Jamilee invited the group use their digital keypads to enter responses to questions for tabulation — and in this case, evaluation of the conference. As the numbers rolled up on the monitor, it was obvious that the event was a considerable success! We look ahead to more input and communication from underrepresented municipalities and groups as we move forward.
A big thank you to Yvonne, Anita, and all the team in Trepassey. You rock!