Background - Where have we been
To understand where Chatham-Kent is going over the next 20 years, we need to start by looking at where we have been. Prior to 2008, Chatham-Kent was a community that was seeing steady investment and while it was not record-breaking, it was consistent. The global economic crisis of 2008 would prove to be very challenging for the community over the next 10 years and would lead to many residents needing to leave to find work. While industry was hit hard, those that did make it through the rough global times were able to come out stronger and in many cases with greater client diversity.
There are three options for Council to address the rising costs of inflation, expense downloading, and the shifting demographic changes in the landscape of the services provided:
- Raising taxes on existing business, agriculture, and residential base
- Cut services residents and businesses rely on
- Growing Chatham-Kent which will provide increased new tax assessment
On March 2, 2020, Chatham-Kent Council passed the motion to approve the Community Improvement Plan. This plan is focused on attracting new investment and increased new tax assessment.
Where we are now
Here is the good news, in the past few years, Chatham-Kent's population and industry have seen a resurgence, businesses are hiring employees, and the economy is on track.
While this is positive, there is a new reality facing Chatham-Kent: stagnant growth.
In a recent Municipal Comprehensive Review there are very clear projections that show Chatham-Kent is set to be well below the provincial and Canadian averages for growth. While some have said they are fine with a community that stays exactly how it is right now, the projections show that without growth we will be unable to afford to maintain our quality of life and all of the wonderful things that make Chatham-Kent special.
This means if we want to continue to be awesome: we need growth!
What are we going to do about it?
We make a plan!
The Community Development #GrowingCK Plan was presented and approved by Chatham-Kent Council in early 2020. With that plan we defined three essential metrics for growth: Population, Jobs, and New Growth Tax Assessment.
Population: does Chatham-Kent have enough people for our workforce and to keep our schools, arenas, and other amazing facilities full?
Jobs: does Chatham-Kent have enough jobs and careers to keep people employed?
New Growth Tax Assessment: is Chatham-Kent earning enough money through new investment to pay for the services we enjoy?
Now that we know where we have been, where we are now, and our plan to move forward, it's time for action. On March 2, 2020 we took the next step to bring forward to Chatham-Kent Council the first in what will be a series of proposed tools for growth called the Community Improvement Plan (CIP). At the meeting, Council approved the CIP. Let's have a look at what's in it for the community and for developers: