May get big money to solve problems


Community could receive up to $5 million

The Olds Institute (OI), through its Olds Connected Community committee, is looking for input from town residents on what problems in the community need to be solved via technology.

They’re doing so over the next couple of months through an online survey. Here’s the link:

OI executive director Mitch Thomson says the idea for the survey came after town and OI officials learned of the federal government’s Smart Cities Challenge to solve problems in Canadian communities using the latest technology.

Thomson says under that challenge, Olds is eligible for up to $250,000 to come up with a problem or challenge in the community that needs solving. They have to send that off to the federal government by mid-April.

“If they think our challenge is relevant and necessary, they would then turn around and give us up to $250,000 to formally plan how we would address that issue,” Thomson said during an interview with the Albertan.

“And if our plan is successful and done properly, then they would turn around and give us up to $5 million to solve that challenge in the community.”

Thomson said after the committee sends its proposal in, it should hear later this year if the federal government thinks it’s worthy of receiving the initial money to work out a plan to solve the problem.

He said they would expect to hear if they’ll get up to $5 million to actually solve it some time in 2019.

More than 40 people attended a two-hour brainstorming session at Holy Trinity Catholic School earlier to come up with ideas on problems that needed solving.

Categories suggested by the federal government are: safety and security, healthy living and recreation, environmental quality, mobility, economic opportunities, empowerment and inclusion.

Those attending included representatives of the Town of Olds, OI, the Olds & District Chamber of Commerce and citizens in general.

“We’ve been on a connectivity path for many years. The next phase is how do we really take that connectivity and the intelligent use of technology and really make a difference going forward to continue to push the envelope and keep Olds in the forefront,” Thomson said.

“It really was just an opportunity to rally the troops and bring the different organizations and community members together to talk about what our future looks like.

“Should technology be used to grow the economy or create a great quality of life? Should we use it to support health care or education?”

Thomson was asked why OI held a general meeting on those questions if people could simply fill out the online survey.

“The idea there was to bring the community together much like we did in the early to mid 2000s when we started talking about O-NET,” he said.

“Any time you start to talk about spending some resources or creating a change in the community, you want to make sure the community is onside. We really wanted the ideas to come from the community so that we were focused on the things that matter to residents.”

“Should technology be used to grow the economy or create a great quality of life? Should we use it to support health care or education?”


About Author

Doug Collie

Doug Collie joined the Olds Albertan in 2014 as editor. He covers municipal politics, news, community events, arts and entertainment and sports happening in and around Bowden and Olds.