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Midland Bay Landing is going international

A study to conduct feasibility for a UNESCO Global Geopark designation for Midland and area will help enhance the 40-acre waterfront property for potential development.
Bill Kernohan, director and chair of Midland Bay Landing Development Corporation, pitched the UNESCO Global Geopark designation to council at the annual general meeting. Mehreen Shahid/MidlandToday

Midland Bay Landing Development Corporation (MBLDC) is reaching for the sky with a potential UNESCO designation for not only the waterfront property, but Midland surrounding area.

The idea was pitched to council members at the MBLDC annual general meeting Wednesday evening.

“The vision is that Midland Bay Landing is a unique opportunity to create a catalyst for growth and economic engine for Midland and beyond,” said Bill Kernohan, director and chair of the board. “(It’s) also for revitalization and growth and innovation in the wider region.”

He said the board has investigated a potential global designation opportunity to help create a new brand for the entire town and region.

“A strong global partner was needed and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has those ingredients,” said Kernohan.

The corporation's plan is to launch a study to determine the feasibility of seeking the UNESCO Global Geopark designation. 

According to the UNESCO website, UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.

Kernohan was of the opinion that North Simcoe carries many of the qualities that other Canadian geoparks also possess.

“Midland and area has the physical assets, culture, and history for a Geopark,” he said. “The primary goals are to promote sustained economic growth to ensure inclusive and equitable education opportunities and to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Those goals align with the goals of MBL.”

Having this designation will enhance development opportunities by extending tourism to new global tourists, added Kernohan.

The enthusiasm and excitement also rubbed off on council members.

“I'm excited to see this,” said Coun. Bill Gordon. “We've talked about it in the past, but now it's in the public sphere. It's great. It doesn't make me bristle as condos and Starbucks do for MBL. If we could pull this off and get that designation, it seems to fly in the face of what we've been selling up till now, is it specifically for MBL or for Midland or for North Simcoe and what are our odds?”

Kernohan said the designation is not just for the 40-acres of MBL waterfront land.

“It's for the town and the broader area around the town,” he said. “The study we're going to look at is to develop a vision and strategy for us to be successful at being designated the park.”

In that case, Gordon asked, should the MBL be spearheading it or should this be a collaborative project for the municipalities in the area?

“It is not our intention to end up managing all of this,” said Kernohan. “We have other things to do, but this is complementary. Who ultimately manages and spearheads this is to be determined. We would need to work with others as partners and develop a governance model to carry this application through.”

Council in attendance unanimously passed the MBL request to spend $50,000 on the study for the purpose of attaining the designation.

The meeting can now be viewed online.