Community leaders from across Ontario convened in Toronto to discuss immigration strategies, challenges, and opportunities for small communities. Nine Rural Planning and Development students facilitated these discussions and will be compiling a summary report in the coming weeks.

Building on the recent report Beyond the Big City, the Small Town Forum kicked off with a presentation from report author Dr. Victoria Esses (Western University) highlighting the current trends, case studies from across Ontario, and recommendations for communities. After the presentation, Rural Planning and Development students facilitated small group discussions with community leaders. The table-top discussions identified barriers/challenges encountered, local and regional assets to attract immigrants, and key recommendations for moving forward. The discussions also identified what knowledge rural communities need to develop and implement immigration strategies. A summary report from the session will be released in April 2020.

The Small Town Forum took place during the 2020 Ontario Good Road Conference in Toronto.

During the Ontario Good Roads Association conference Rural Planning and Development students also had the opportunity to meet with Ernie Hardeman, Minster of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Students discussed the need for planners and the role of immigration in supporting rural community across the province.

Chirag Patney, Sean Jeffrey, Ernie Hardeman, Ryan Gibson, Niva Shresta, Gursewak Singh, Natalya Garrod, and Victoria Agyepong