Community Resilience of Sault Ste. Marie (2003-09)

A cross-sectorial community-based initiative launched in 2004 to assess Sault Ste. Marie’s resilience and explore ways of incorporating resilience concepts and principles into community planning, thereby increasing the City’s desirability and sustainability by becoming economically viable, socially equitable, environmentally responsible, and culturally vital. When initiated the concept of resilience was little known or understood; it has since, however, become a movement. Read more

Community Resilience refers to:

A community's capacity to adapt, transition, and thrive when faced with significant change while retaining core values Over 30 years of research has shown that a community's ability to adapt and succeed is dependent upon the culture of the community.

Successful communities have developed a culture that fosters:

  1. community engagement;
  2. networks of social relations-social capital;
  3. holistic community plans; and,
  4. local capacity building based on community resources- people, financial, natural and cultural

Community Resilience of Sault Ste. Marie (CRSSM)

The CRSSM project was an outcome of the 2003 community-wide forum, "Moving Forward: Beyond Job Losses". Algoma University's Community Economic and Social Development program was mandated to conduct a resilience study on Sault Ste. Marie. The report, Portrait of Community Resilience of Sault Ste. Marie (2007) contains the assessment and analysis of Sault Ste. Marie's strengths, weaknesses and gaps in terms of resilience characteristics.

Since Community Resilience of Sault Ste. Marie (CRSSM) was launched in 2004, Community Resilience (CR) has become a movement. Sault Ste. Marie was the first community in Canada with a population larger than 10,000 to implement a CR project. This necessitated adapting the model to meet local needs, i.e. an urban community within Northern Ontario rural setting, thus further contributing to understanding CR. The project sunset in 2011

CRSSM significantly assisted in culture and agriculture sector development, and impacted rail transportation infrastructure though the formation of Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPTrains). It created cross-sectorial and cross-cultural partnerships that built local capacity, leadership, social capital while demonstrating the effectiveness of holistic community planning at organizational, community and regional levels.

Pilot projects (e.g. Culture, Creativity and the Arts: Achieving Community Resilience and Sustainability through the Arts in Sault Ste. Marie, 2007) assisted in shifting individual and community perceptions around ways community development can be implemented, linking economic and social plans and raising the awareness of the value of local assets and the importance of developing them in meeting local and global markets. It supported the development of micro-entrepreneurships and niche markets to meet regional and global demands and stronger alliances in gaining more control over resources. This has led to increased social cohesion and social equity, new locally owned businesses and cooperatives leading to more control over one’s future.

Strategic partnerships with municipal governments and First Nation communities, tourism, recreational and environmental, cultural and agricultural organizations and businesses have been forged. And numerous partnerships with local, regional, provincial and national organizations in the have contributed building the capacity of SSM and Algoma region.

CR principles are now embedded in post-secondary education through Algoma University’s Community Economic and Social Development (CESD) program as well as NORDIK Institute. NORDIK researchers and CESD students work with community partners, new knowledge and further learning is generated.

Project Coordinator/Facilitator: Jude Ortiz

Project Supervisor: Linda Savory-Gordon

To view the final report click here.