At its Council Meeting held Tuesday, October 19, 2021, Municipal Council approved the recommendation of a Third-Party Consultant’s Report to cease funding the Economic Development Corporation of Wawa (EDC). Financial support to the external Corporation will continue until April 30, 2022, when the Municipality of Wawa will assume full responsibilities for delivering economic development services directly. The new structure for delivering combined tourism and economic development services is currently being developed with the support of the EDC and will likely require the hiring of new positions within the Municipality.
A recent report completed by independent consultants, Municipal Government Wayfinders, was presented to Municipal Council in August. The report was undertaken to review municipal operations and make recommendations for improvements. The Report was funded wholly by the Province of Ontario’s Municipal Modernization Funding Program. The Consultants undertook a critical analysis of all municipal operations and obtained feedback from local taxpayers to identify best practices and areas for continuous improvement. One area outlined for improvement was the delivery of local economic development and tourism services. The Consultants indicated that annual financial savings would be realized by discontinuing the annual funding of $160,000 to the EDC and creating a new combined Tourism and Economic Development position within the Municipality. Since the start of COVID-19 in 2020, the Municipality had not hired any new tourism staff to implement programs and marketing initiatives and Municipal Council agreed with the Report that new staff resources should be dedicated to improving tourism services.
“I wish to express Council’s appreciation and thank you to EDC Chair Liz Talian-Clarke and each and every volunteer and staff member who has served the community over the past 20 years through the Economic Development Corporation. Although a difficult decision has been made, Municipal Council believes that providing economic development and tourism services under one position in a new internal delivery model makes economic sense and is ultimately best for the community. I look forward to working with the EDC during this time of change to ensure a smooth transition,” said Mayor Ron Rody.
Liz Talian-Clarke, Chair of the EDC, added that the EDC Board and staff will continue to work with and support the Municipality as it takes over the delivery of economic development services in the new year. “Although I am very disappointed that funding of the current model of the EDC will be discontinued over the next six months, affecting a core group of dedicated and valuable employees and volunteers, the EDC Board will work with Council to help transition the community to a new way of providing programs and services designed to assist new entrepreneurs and existing businesses. With the co-operative efforts from both existing entities, it is hoped the transition will be as seamless as possible.”
A municipal-led plan to ensure a transition of services will be developed collaboratively between the parties over the next few months, including a recommendation for a new Economic Development/Tourism Advisory Committee of Council to be formed. To view a copy of Transformation Study, please visit the municipal website, wawa.cc
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