In this hypothetical scenario yet ever more likely potential reality (according to financial analysts and experts), Canada faces something it hasn’t experienced in 68 years: A recession without the U.S. in the same boat. The recession sends shocks waves across the country equal and in other ways greater in magnitude to the Financial Crisis that shook the U.S. in 2008. Debt-laden Canadians are ill-equipped to handle any more. Housing prices have plummeted, with home prices declining to the lowest level since 2009. Boomers are moving from Toronto in droves, building homes in the Greater Toronto region and driving up prices of high-end homes in smaller more rural communities, further widening the housing ownership gap between the haves and have-nots.
In this future scenario, the Greater Niagara Region has become a center for agricultural innovation and excellence. Local agricultural producers are working in tandem with agri-food entrepreneurs to add value to existing products and processes, creating new jobs and driving economic growth to the region, while contributing to a global sustainable food future. New partnerships are formed between Brock and Guleph Universities, the Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) and entrepreneurial hubs (such as Brock-Lincoln Living Lab), the agricultural industry and local municipalities. Through the formation of public-private partnerships and new financing options, entrepreneurs can gain access to the funding they need to work with agricultural producers to bring agri-expertise to new urban centers and explore novel solutions for feeding the cities of the world. Lincoln’s first co-working studio is open for businesses after an old school is purchased and revitalized to make space for the in-flux of entrepreneurial talent and investment pouring into the region.
The following future scenario highlights one possible future for growing the cannabis industry in Lincoln. In this scenario, the Lincoln’s ‘Open for Business Campaign’ attracts new cannabis producers. Two new production facilities have opened up, creating a wealth of new job opportunities and attracting talent from around the world to the greater Niagara region. Cannabis producers are facing pushback from the community over odour and light pollution. Community pushback is further amplified when a group of residents take to the streets to protest the opening of new cannabis cultivation facilities. In response, Lincoln issues an interim control bi-law to slow the production growth of new and existing facilities, mandates the use of filter systems to control odors and commissions the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab to discover new solutions for light pollution from cannabis production. Meanwhile, Lincoln’s first cannabis retail store opens for business and the line-up for CBD products is around the block making provincial news headlines.
Twenty Valley is being discovered because of its wealth of lovely, simple pleasures. The Southern Ontario gem is wooing visitors with great gastronomy and even greater wine.
In the last few years, Twenty Valley has become a weekend alternative for Torontonians who don’t want to spend half their weekend stuck in traffic getting to Muskoka cottage country, and who prefer touring vineyards and eating inspired farm-to-table meals. Many who come to visit return to stay; Twenty Valley is now home to many Toronto creatives and rat race dropouts who are upcycling old school buildings and opening new businesses from wineries, breweries, design businesses, restaurants, and more. There’s even a website devoted to their stories.
Throughout the collection of neighbouring communities; the Beamsville Bench, Vineland, and Jordan and others (that make up the Twenty Valley) there are impeccable waterfronts, cool vintage shops, art galleries and museums, ample hiking trails along the escarpment, impeccably maintained old-Victorian homes and a plethora of #instaworthy experiences.
In today’s real fake news about the future, a torrential and record-breaking rainfall swells the Great Lakes causing massive floods and damages across shoreline communities in Niagara. Entire communities are evacuated, government resources are strained, and the highly anticipated opening of Prudhommes Landing is a wash. In the aftermath of the crisis, the region forms the ‘Region of Niagara’s Coalition of Resilient Municipalities’ to build stronger climate resilience. Municipal neighbours have joined forces – investing time, pooling resources and focusing leadership efforts on preventative solutions and joint contingency plans. Significant investment are made into Smart City projects across the region with the goal of using data and connected technology to discover new ways of working with storm water, rather than against it.