Amalgamation may still be dirty word in Chatham-Kent, even after 20 years, but the federal government thinks the municipality has something to offer to others going through the process.
As one of the two municipalities chosen by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for visiting Ukrainian dignitaries to tour, Chatham-Kent was able to show how the community has faired post-amalgamation, and what our municipal officials have done to bring prosperity to our area.
“What prosperity?” you might say. Well, the evidence is in the housing prices, the people flocking to the area, the shortage of people to fill skilled job openings, the opening of many new businesses and business expansions in the area, and the incredible fairs and festivals that have people coming to Chatham-Kent in large numbers.
People can, and do, still complain about amalgamation and how they see Chatham as getting everything, but the truth of the matter is the smaller municipalities would be facing difficulties collecting enough taxes to run effectively and have the services at a level people demand.
Yes, you’ll say your corner of Kent County was doing just fine until amalgamation, but in the 20 years since it happened, the economic situation in our area changed for the worse, with jobs leaving the area resulting in people leaving the area.
Who knows how each separate municipality would have fared, but to take an educated guess, “not well” comes to mind.
There is strength in numbers and purchasing power, and although the municipality could still benefit from some streamlining and efficiency measures that actually reduce costs, the staff and council have guided Chatham-Kent through some very tough times.
So, yes, we did have something tangible to offer the delegation of Ukrainian mayors who visited Chatham-Kent, in showcasing how the municipality has done post-amalgamation. It hasn’t been easy, but we are finally starting to see an uptick in our prosperity.
And thanks to the federal government and FCM, the chance to host the Ukraine delegation didn’t cost the municipality money and just might have given us a new economic partner for the future.
That sounds like win-win to us.