For Sudbury, the signs are all there.

AuthorAtkins, Michael
PositionPresident's Note

It was 1977. The price of nickel was in the tank. INCO was warning about massive layoffs, and speculation about negotiations between the United Steelworkers union and INCO was that there would be no way to avoid a strike. Financial analysts thought it would be a gift to INCO to go on strike because the price of nickel was so low and the stockpiles so high. The union didn't go quietly. They embarked on one of the toughest and longest labour strikes in Canadian history. It was brutal. Sudbury suffered enormously. It was never the same.

The year before the strike of '78, a group of community leaders, anticipating the brutal layoffs, began meeting informally about what could be done.

They called the gathering 'Sudbury 2001.' The group included Elmer McVey, the chair of the Sudbury and District Labour Council; the chair of the Chamber of Commerce; the presidents of the two major labour unions; senior executives of INCO and Falconbridge; the local MPPs and MPs; the presidents of Laurentian University and Cambrian College; then-mayor Jim Gordon; Doug Frith, chair of the Regional Municipality of Sudbury; Narasim Katary, the head of long-range planning for the region; and myself. The only promise was to leave our politics at the door.

It was a talented group. Jim Gordon would become the provincial minister of government services. Doug Frith would go on to become federal minister of Indian affairs and northern development, Floyd Laughren would become the finance minister for the province of Ontario, and Narasim Katary would move on to become a member of the Ontario Municipal Board.

Although there were many outcomes and hundreds of people involved in individual projects associated with Sudbury 2001, the most important outcome was a change in culture. The most tangible big idea was the regreening of Sudbury. It has been an extraordinary success and recognized around the world.

All levels of government, the university in particular, and all manner of volunteers had their fingerprints on this enormously successful program.

As with most change, the most obvious--say, planting 10 million trees over 40 years--is the least important. The real value is that Sudbury took control of its future and changed how it did...

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