Another year has passed, and looking back on 2019, there are some positive steps towards making our community safer, happier and more prosperous.
Do we – meaning council and the voting taxpayers – have work to do? That’s a definite yes. But even the habitual naysayers have to admit that things are looking up in Chatham-Kent.
The real estate market has been booming in the area, which some see as both a boon and a curse. People selling with someplace to go have been getting incredible returns on their home investment, but those trying to become home owners are finding it difficult to afford a home at today’s prices.
New businesses have opened, taking up industrial land and filling closed storefronts across the municipality. Now, instead of seeing abandoned businesses and factories, we are seeing renovated buildings and spruced up storefronts. And that means more jobs.
Are the jobs equal to those that have left? Maybe not, but anyone who wants a job can generally find one, although it might not be at a wage that will pay all the bills each month.
Festivals in C-K, such as RetroFest and WAMBO, flourished this past year, putting our area on the map, and tourism is becoming more of an emerging market. The Mitchell’s Bay Open brings fishing enthusiasts from all over and gets bigger every year; the Shrewsbury Ribs & Blues always packs people in for great blues music and food; Bothwell’s Optifest draws people from all over, and the Boot Hill Jamboree is a big hit with country music followers.
With local craft breweries flourishing and area wineries making a name for themselves, as well as our agri-food business “growing for the world,” Chatham-Kent has so much to offer not only local residents but people from across our province and country.
Homelessness, poverty, addiction and affordable housing all need to be addressed and are on the local agenda, but the municipality as a whole can be proud of how far we have come in a year.
Let’s all work to ensure progress continues in 2020 with 20/20 vision on where our priorities lie and how to get there.