Even without 'financials,' EDCNS draws kudos from Midland council

·3 min read

Despite not coming to the table with its most recent financial records, councillors seemed happy with the direction of a local economic development group.

Coun. Bill Gordon was happy that the Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe (EDCNS) didn't increase its funding request to the town, but said he wanted to see the non-profit's financial records soon.

"I did email to ask for a copy of financials and was hoping to see them before this meeting but I understand it has to go to the board," he said. "The fact that you’ve been able to hold to a zero per cent increase, is nothing short of admirable. And we didn’t even ask you for that."

MidlandToday came across a similar wall to a query last year around financial statements. An email asking for EDCNS budget documents wasn't addressed directly, instead a vacation alert was sent out signalling an end to the conversation.

According to the Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, 2010, a corporation is required to keep records of previous financial statements to be provided to members on request. Where most non-profits these days provide access to budget documents online, a quick search of the EDCNS website reveals no such trends.

EDCSN executive director Sharon Vegh, who was presenting to council a request for $168,814 for 2021, was also asked about cannabis-related tourism in the area.

"Are we doing anything to help promote these businesses coming to town?" said Coun. Cody Oschefski, talking about the two new cannabis dispensaries in Midland. "Is there any talk around cannabis-related tourism?"

Vegh said there's been discussion around the EDCNS table to promote stronger engagement with all new businesses.

"Regarding the greenfields," she added, "we have a meeting next week and I’m going to pose that to tourism (committee)."

Vegh said that while area retail businesses struggled with pandemic-related shutdowns, they were able to transform to provide curbside services.

"They are becoming digital as well," Vegh said as she answered a question posed by Coun. Jon Main at a recent council meeting around budget requests from local non-profits. "This can help the businesses in the longer term."

Vegh said a survey conducted last year by the EDCNS gave a positive feeling that business will be good and continue.

"That’s mainly because of this community and how they support one another," she added.

Mayor Stewart Strathearn wanted to see more talent attracted to the area.

"Talent attraction in the trades in particular is identified as one of the primary issues for the EDO (Economic Development Office) out of the county," he said. "I remember at one point we had about 200 skilled trades positions in town that remained to be filled. I’m wondering if that’s still the case? And people were having a hard time finding people to work in retail and general labour, is that still the case?"

Vegh said it's still an issue.

"It has, I think, always been an issue and something that is very difficult to overcome," she said. "We’ve created a strategy to attract new and regional residents to improve the local labour force and increase spending capacity. Increasing housing was also a sub-point of our strategy. As you know, the county is working on it as well and we support them one hundred thousand per cent in that endeavour."

Council will consider the request at its budget meetings, which begin next week.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com