Robert Mitchell, local resident and Barriere Secondary School teacher, brought the Smart Cities Challenge to the attention of the District of Barriere council during their Jan. 22, Committee of the Whole meeting.
As a result, the council decided to host a public meeting, and inviting not only community residents, but also immediate neighbours, including Simpcw First Nation and Thompson Nicola Regional District Area O residents as well.
The meeting will take place on Monday, Feb. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the Barriere Ridge (municipal hall) to see if the interest exists within this community to drive such a project.
The Smart Cities Challenge is a competitive funding initiative of Infrastructure Canada. It is open to all municipalities, local or regional governments, and Indigenous communities (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) across Canada.
The deadline for community proposals is April 24, 2018, with finalists being announced in the summer, and winners announced the following spring of 2019.
Finalists will receive support, along with $250,000, to develop their final smart cities proposal.
Winning communities in the following categories will be awarded with prize money to help implement them.
· One prize of up to $50 million – Open to all communities, regardless of population;
· Two prizes of up to $10 million each – Open to all communities with populations under 500,000;
· One prize of up to $5 million – Open to all communities with populations under 30,000
The following statements are taken from the Infrastructure Canada website (https://impact.canada.ca/en/challenges/smart-cities/applicant-guide), where more detailed information regarding the program is available:
A smart cities approach aims to achieve meaningful outcomes for residents by leveraging the fundamental benefits that data and connected technology have to offer. This approach can be adopted by any community, big or small. Because the Smart Cities Challenge is all about achieving outcomes, it will be vital for communities to measure where they are starting from, when they are making progress, and when they have achieved success. Establishing a baseline and measuring results will be central to doing this. Communities should take risks and think big, identify significant, pressing, and perceived “unsolvable” problems, and achieve outcomes through data and connected technology. Communities will need to undertake meaningful engagement with residents and forge relationships with new and non-traditional partners. Smart cities approaches should not only benefit a single community; they should be scalable and replicable across Canada.
A message from the Minister of Infrastructure Canada, states , “The Smart Cities Challenge will ask those (local government) leaders to team up with pioneering businesses, academia, and civic organizations to design innovative solutions to their most pressing challenges using data and connected technologies.”
It was noted at the committee of the whole meeting that this particular competition has significant funding of up to $5 million attached to it for a community the size of Barriere and its surrounding area. There are major issues with both power and broadband in the North Thompson Valley that have been discussed extensively over the last decade. Perhaps this is an opportunity to improve the valley’s bandwidth and connectivity?
There is also an initiative afoot in the Lower North Thompson in regards to building a Natural History Museum and Interpretive Centre that might combine technology with history and culture and include several partners.
In his presentation Robert Mitchell encouraged ideas around revitalization of the downtown and community parkland. The committee feel they are certain there are others out there with creative visions as well for the community, and as a result they are hosting the Feb. 26 public information meeting and are encouraging everyone with an idea, vision or interest to please attend.