Penticton city council said spending $10,000 to possibly win $10 million is a good investment.
The city isn’t investing in a lottery scheme, but city council did vote unanimously Tuesday to put up $10,000 to build a submission for the Smart Cities Challenge.
The Smart Cities Challenge is a cross-Canada competition through the federal government as a spur to get communities thinking about how to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology.
Penticton will be vying for one of two prizes of $10 million for communities with under 500,000 people. There is a top prize of $50 million, open to all communities, that the city could have chosen to try for.
“I think we have a really good chance of being a finalist, for sure,” said local businessman Keith MacIntyre, who has been pushing for Penticton to take part in the national competition.
“I think we have a really good shot at winning one of the $10 million prizes. As a community, we are able to get a really strong bid together than other municipalities. Penticton is just full of really amazing, talented people.”
According to Anthony Haddad, director of development services, entering the Smart Cities Challenge not only aligns with city halls’ priorities, but engagement work already done with the community can play a part in developing the challenge statement for the competition.
Work on the challenge also ties neatly into work being done for the Official Community Plan update.
According to the report, Haddad delivered to council, earlier engagement activities have resulted in city staff consulting with more than 1,200 citizens to understand what they think are some of the biggest challenges facing the community. The results of that work can be provided to the Smart Cities team to narrow down the focus of the challenge statement.”
“It’s given us a great starting point. We don’t have to start from scratch and the timing is really great to tie in with the OCP expo next week,” said MacIntyre.
MacIntyre said there really is no downside to entering the Smart Cities Challenge. Just applying will draw attention to Penticton, he explained, and even more so if the city is chosen as a finalist — which also comes with a $250,000 award to build the proposal.
“Even if we don’t win or aren’t named a finalist, we’ve got a bunch of great ideas that have come together,” said MacIntyre, adding that some of those might be possible to accomplish without the $10-million prize.
The challenge is expected to generate lots of opportunities and solutions across Canada.
Haddad said Penticton’s tech community have quickly responded to the concept.
“To have a talented group of community members that live and work in Penticton and are invested in supporting this community initiative is an opportunity that should not be taken for granted,” said Haddad. “Community leadership is already rallying and we are fortunate to have those leaders out in the community to assist.”
Work on the challenge will begin immediately in order to have a submission ready by the April 24 deadline.