By Jenn Watt
Published March 28 2017
For several decades Peterborough has been transforming from a blue collar town to a creative city its industry moving from factories to the public sector. It was once a place known as being the average Canadian town used in focus groups and surveying but is now striving to be well above average.
Part of the transformation has come from community advocates pushing to create stronger greener and more supportive institutions for residents said Ken Doherty the guest speaker at U-Links’ Celebration of Research at Fleming College in Haliburton on the weekend.
Doherty is part of Sustainable Peterborough a committee of Peterborough Economic Development a group that has led the way in changing the culture of the region alongside other community groups. He is also director of the City of Peterborough’s community services department.
During his speech Doherty detailed many of the campaigns undertaken by Sustainable Peterborough which offered lessons on how to get more groups on board to accomplish goals that better a community. In the case of Peterborough County programs were introduced to reduce carbon emissions better children’s health and improve infrastructure for an aging population.
Over a 10-year period they were able to bring in $3 million in grants to enact several of their programs.
Each year Sustainable Peterborough puts out a report card on progress being made on such items as waste water transportation natural assets and economic development. The simple visually pleasing eight-page document gives the community a sense of where they’re going and what has been done so far. Doherty also pointed out that it allows groups and municipalities to look at each other’s ideas and launch similar programs in their own locales. A bit of healthy competition doesn’t hurt either.
He offered advice to those in Haliburton looking to make progress with their own initiatives: hire co-ordinators move from creating projects to creating programs (long-term rather than short-term) bring partners on board to create a shared vision and go out into the community rather than expecting people to come to you.
Ultimately he said when it comes to new ideas it’s a matter of asking “why not” rather than “why.”
After Doherty’s talk attendees were free to walk around the room checking out the posters set up by students and their host organizations about research being done locally through U-Links Centre for Community Based Research.
Research topics ranged from expanding trails at Abbey Gardens to work on community energy planning in Minden Hills.
U-Links was founded in 1999 and is part of the Haliburton County Community Co-operative.