Lots in the works for C-K: Canniff

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Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff addresses members of the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce at a breakfast gathering May 23.

By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A park honouring the legends of Chatham-Kent, an increased presence along Highway 401, and a fresh marketing strategy to boost C-K’s profile are among the projects currently in the works, according to Mayor Darrin Canniff.

The mayor, making his annual breakfast address to the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce May 23, outlined a host of initiatives designed to enhance the municipality’s growth.

Around 5,000 new residents have relocated to the municipality in the past three years, he said, bringing the population past the 109,000 mark.

“We’re growing in Chatham-Kent” Canniff told the crowd, noting the municipality attracted 281 residents from other countries in 2023.

“People want to be here.”

When he announced that 11 new physicians have joined the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance so far this year, Canniff’s comments were greeted with applause.

“As we know, doctors have the pick of the litter,” the mayor said. “They can go anywhere but they’ve chosen Chatham-Kent.”

Canniff said part of the reason people are moving to C-K is an increase in amenities. That includes the addition of the Chatham-Kent Barnstormers IBL baseball team, two new indoor playgrounds, more public art, CCTV cameras in local downtowns, and a new park on Bear Line that will house a cricket pitch and an indoor tennis dome.

Creating a new museum and library when the municipality moves its headquarters to the former Sears building is another plus for the community, Canniff said.

“These are the reasons to keep our kids and grandkids here, because there are cool things,” he added. “I’m constantly challenging people, using that word epic – are we being epic today?”

According to Canniff, a piece of property by the Third Street Bridge has been donated and is where Legends Park will be created.

“It’s to celebrate legends of Chatham-Kent,” the mayor said, noting it will honour those, such as Fergie Jenkins, who have put Chatham-Kent “on the map.”

A total of 20 acres have been sold in the Bloomfield Business Park, he added, creating a diverse array of small companies. All told, 300 new businesses were created in Chatham-Kent in 2023.

“Business is the lifeblood of Chatham-Kent,” Canniff explained. “If business prospers, so does Chatham-Kent. This renaissance would not be happening without business stepping in.”

But like every other Ontario municipality, Chatham-Kent continues to grapple with homelessness, the ills of addiction, and a chronic lack of affordable housing.

“There are issues, we’ll always have issues, we’ll never be perfect,” the mayor stated. However, he said C-K is making strides towards solving the problem, pointing out the construction of a 50-cabin tiny homes emergency shelter, and a total of 740 affordable housing units that are in the pipeline.

“If there was an easy solution, it would have happened by now,” Canniff said. “It’s a team effort, it’s not just the municipality. We need federal money, we need provincial money – there’s some big things that need to be changed.”

Although a rise in interest rates slowed housing starts, Canniff said there’s been a recent surge in the number of permits, with the average price of a home at $410,000.

The municipality is also focusing on building up, rather than building out, he said.

Canniff said the public should be on the lookout for coming projects, including a number of new murals destined for various locations throughout Chatham-Kent.

“We want to be epic, unique, different,” he said. “That’s how we want to market our community.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Heritage, and historians, should update memorial arena like other communities have,to many memories that can’t be replaced

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