The City of Sault Ste. Marie has submitted an application to the Smart Cities challenge focused on the community’s youth.

Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities challenge encourages communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of residents through innovation, data and connected technology. There are four prizes available through the challenge, and the City has submitted an application under the following category: Two prizes of up to $10 million open to all communities with populations under 500,000 people.

The Challenge Statement asks communities to define the outcome or outcomes that address an important problem in their community and state what they aim to achieve by implementing the proposal. The outcomes must be measurable, ambitious, and achievable through the proposed use of data and connected technology.

The City of Sault Ste. Marie’s Challenge Statement reads as follows: We are going to reverse population decline and youth outmigration by building the Country’s most advanced youth engagement and data analytics platform which will connect our youth to their community and its opportunities and will encourage them to develop the skill sets that are required by the new economy.

The target outcomes of the City’s submission are aimed to reverse youth outmigration and addresses demographic challenges. The outcomes contain both short and long term goals, including: creating career pathways for youth, increasing education levels, addressing skills shortages and assisting private sector job creation.

The next step in the process is the announcement of finalists, which is expected to take place in the summer of 2018. Finalists will receive a $250,000 grant to develop a proposal, which is due in the winter of 2019. If the City is selected to move forward, further engagement with the community is planned for the development of the City’s proposal.

“The Smart Cities challenge represents a significant opportunity to advance plans for growth and the development of a more resilient community,” said Mayor Christian Provenzano. “Extensive work already completed for previous initiatives provided the City with a strong foundation to build a comprehensive submission. It is clear our City has to focus on, engage with and invest in our youth, and we see this challenge as an opportunity to work with them and build our community together.”

The City’s submission was informed by the Community Adjustment Committee’s final report and recommendations (which featured community engagement activities involving nearly 5,000 people), feedback from youth forums held by the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, feedback from open houses held for the Smart Cities challenge, meetings and conference calls with private sector companies and attendance at the Microsoft Smart Cities event in Toronto.

“The City’s submission identifies significant challenges present in our community and we have developed a comprehensive approach to address these challenges,” said Tom Vair, Deputy CAO, Community Development and Enterprise Services. “We appreciate the input of the members of our taskforce and community and look forward to participating in the next stage of this process.”

Winners will be announced in the spring of 2019. The City’s submission will be posted online in the coming weeks.

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