Dr. Ryan Gibson and Ashleigh Weeden (PhD student, School of Environmental Design & Rural Development) hosted a workshop at the Ontario Good Roads Association’s 2019 Conference in Toronto yesterday (February 26, 2019) to launch the “Building the Future: Rural Infrastructure & Regional Economic Development” research initiative.

Over 125 delegates participated in discussions focused on the opportunities and challenges facing rural communities in managing their infrastructure assets, and how these issues affect both immediate and long-term economic development in rural areas. Participants explored the following three questions and shared the unique experiences facing different types of rural and small communities across Ontario:

  • Do rural communities face different infrastructure challenges (or opportunities) compared to urban communities? What are they?  
  • Does your community connect infrastructure planning to economic development? How?
  • What are the biggest immediate challenges or opportunities that might affect rural communities long-term economic development opportunities?

The Building the Future research initiative is being led by a cross-Canada team of researchers and policy practitioners and seeks to address gaps in research about the impact of infrastructure asset management on rural economic development and develop evidence-based policy recommendations for supporting immediate- and long-term economic vitality in rural Ontario. The project is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance. More information about this research initiative can be found at www.ruraldev.ca/infrastructure.

Slides from the workshop can be found by clicking here.

Further information on the Ontario Good Roads Association 2019 Conference can be found at www.ograconference.ca. Social media highlights from the event can be found below or at the hashtag #OGRA2019: