The City has decided to look into the possibility of having a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) and Innovation Centre.
The report and the request to council came under some serious scrutiny from councillors, making sure this wasn’t going to duplicate what already exists in the community.
Councillor Corey Gardi was of the opinion the current Innovation Centre, housed in the canal district, could do what is proposed here.
“I just say that over the last few years, in the last couple of terms of council, there’s been some restructuring of the EDC, we recently discussed the need to improve upon and specialize a bit more [with the] incubation centre, I’m just not convinced,” said Gardi. “I think we have to reevaluate what’s going on at the Innovation Center. I think we need to maybe further specialize or build out particular strengths of that current Innovation Centre with Algoma University and Sault College, and foster a further partnership. I just think that it would be great if what we’re thinking about doing here could be driven through the current Innovation Centre.”
Director of Tourism and Community Development, Travis Anderson, was able to comment a little further on how the two differ.
“We have been working in collaboration with the Innovation Centre, it’s certainly not our intent to duplicate the great work that they’re doing. We would be looking at having them as one of the key partners to drive growth in this area, and would see them as being kind of core to moving this project forward,” said Anderson.
Councillor Paul Christian also voiced his concern.
“What we don’t want to see is duplication. We want to see synergy. So, whatever comes back, please, as best you can, in future reports, articulate the differences between what this could provide us and what we currently have,” instructed Christian. “Because as much as we want to support it, I think there’s a level of skepticism that there will be duplication.”
After Councillor Vezeau-Allen asked for further information, Anderson explained a little further why a STEAM centre might help.
“With Future Sault Ste. Marie, and in particular, some of our collaboration with with the Innovation Centre, we’ve had a number of local industry partners reach out with respect to STEAM, our STEAM-related research projects, that they were hoping to engage with academia,” said Anderson. “We have, over the course of the time that I’ve been here with the municipality, have seen varying degrees of success with respect to these industries, R&D initiatives, and we would like to expand upon those and grow. We are also seeing a transition at this point in time in terms of learning for older individuals, and a transition to kind of more active STEM learning through varying new and varying kind of programming.”
An RFP will now be pursued on this matter and a report will come back to council in the future.
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