by Jim Bertram
The North Grenville Rural Summit concept and reality has gone through many phases over the last seven years. Originally, in 2012, I envisaged this enterprise as a place where the rural residents of North Grenville – approximately 80% of North Grenville’s population at that time – might convene to discuss issues relevant to them. I developed and discussed the idea with numerous fellow citizens and, in 2013, succeeded in having the concept included in the North Grenville Strategic Plan. After I was elected to Council in 2014, I wasted no time in moving the Summit from its place as part of a chapter in the Strategic Plan to a motion, created by me in early 2015 and presented by myself at Council where the motion succeeded by a vote of three to two. The Rural Summit was born!
Following that set of events, the Summit proceeded through a few phases: its first phase was a day of presentations in the Fall of 2016 by departments of the municipality. Following that, in 2018, I decided to set up a Summit more in line with my own original idea for an agroeconomy oriented project, and assembled a small team to accomplish this. The 2018 Summit was, according to attendees, a significant success. Unfortunately, I missed my own Summit owing to the fact that cancer intervened and sidelined me in the last week of the Summit’s preparation.
In 2019, I withdrew from the Summit organisation and left the project in the hands of Deron Johnson. Despite a very short and challenging preparation period, Deron and his team were able to provide a successful program a few months ago, in April. The concept of the Summit has now been established in concrete terms and, potentially, has a future in the social and economic landscape of North Grenville.
Last week, at Committee of the Whole, Deron presented an overview of this year’s Summit, which had received municipal sponsorship funding in the amount of $7,500.00. During the presentation, the future of the Summit was discussed. At one point it was mentioned that it would be a good idea if the Summit changed its name from the “North Grenville Rural Summit” to some other formula, in order to receive a greater number of visitors. I wondered, as this idea was mooted, if those proposing it would also believe that changing the name of “Kemptville Live” would be a good idea for the same reason. As the originator of the Summit project, I do not believe that our local project has to change its name to make it more attractive to future potential attendees. By keeping its name, and standing proudly as a creation of our community, all it will need is a strong vision, fiery devotion, a quality team, and adequate funding to make it a solid venue for visitors and participants from a wide area in North America. Let’s put North Grenville on the map with a successful Summit bearing our community’s name proudly.
As indicated earlier, I, for personal reasons, have stepped back from the Summit in a practical sense. But I still believe that North Grenville has the potential to build a Summit program that will be of interest in a number of areas touching the rural economy, both here and elsewhere. It could make a contribution in providing first rate information to citizens, to planners, and to entrepreneurs, as well as offering a venue where significant actors in many areas of endeavour may convene and make lasting and important contacts. In addition, it offers economic advantages to North Grenville.
But, for the time being, while the North Grenville Rural Summit’s promise is proven and its potential unlimited, its future is uncertain. Let’s do something about that, North Grenville. And let’s not throw away the name of a perfectly good enterprise. Let’s build the North Grenville brand and hold our heads high as we proceed towards this vision