In December 2012, members of our team went to Sudbury to work with a group of people interested in how Northern Ontario might be affected by a transportation spine to the Ring of Fire.
The prototypes we were able to develop during the 3-day intensive allowed us to test models that have a high-degree of interactivity, whereby users can easily change variables and see how the changes might play out.
Steve Williams discusses the Northern Ontario Mining Impact model he developed, in consultation with economist David Robinson.
This model shows the population, local economic impact and social impacts of proposed mines in Northern Ontario. You can change variables such as the density of mines (i.e., number of mines per 100km2) and number of employees per mine. The model shows that under reasonable assumptions of mine density, the population increase in the region will be dramatic. The model allows for the impact of worker families and support workers on the total population increase. You can also model the economic impacts by making assumptions on the proportion of salaries that are spent locally along with the proportion of local outsourcing by the mine sites themselves.
IMPORTANT NOTE: this was/is an opportunity to prototype the simulation technology rather than to delve deeply into the complex experiences of Northern communities. Certain assumptions have been made about the nature of community economic development, education, job creation, etc., based on conversation and back-of-the-napkin calculation rather than a comprehensive research process.