Young Professionals at the Table in the Niagara Region

When we designed interactive future-cities-visioning sessions, the audience we had in mind was youth, broadly defined to include young professionals (i.e. like the members of our team). In mid-May, we were grateful for the opportunity to engage in a conversation with a group of young professionals from the Niagara Region.

In attendance for the conversation were representatives from Niagara College, Niagara Region, Leadership Niagara, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, RAFT, and Kemp Financial Group. CityInclusive helped this group shape a vision of an ideal Niagara Region, and how to get there.

In discussing major challenges confronting the Region, trends emerged around the retention of young professionals, the lack of diversity in leadership (municipal and organizational), and gentrification (i.e. housing).

In an ideal Niagara, the faces in the community would be reflected around the boardroom and decision-making tables. People and ideas would flow from local campuses to the Region through two-way corridors. A strategy and implementation plan would exist to support the 12 municipalities in the Region to work together, replacing the current ‘friendly competition’ with enthusiastic collaboration. The burgeoning NGO community would be there to support this work, but also hold stakeholders in the Region accountable when the work fails to live up to its values and benefit the community as a whole.

Efforts are already underway to make some of these visions a reality. Niagara Economic Development is working on a master plan for how employment in the Region will look in 20 years. Campaigns are also underway to market the Region not just as a place to visit, but to make a life and livelihood.

But more work and support is needed. The group said they could benefit from learning what is happening in other communities faced with similar challenges. Is there a hub, or can CityInclusive be one, to connect young professionals keen to make a difference on a municipal level?

Our immense gratitude also goes to Rachel Crane, a local educator, leader and parent committed to making a difference locally, and Mario De Divitiis, CEO of the Niagara Workforce Planning Board. Your generosity and hospitality made all the difference.