For those of you who read my blogs and follow my social media, it won’t be a surprise to discover that I hands down adore Centre Wellington. This is where I live, where I work and where I play. This is where I hike and where I grocery shop, where I run (sporadically) and where I dine out. This is where I catch movies and where I sometimes simply stop and watch the river as it rolls on by to its next destination. Like many, I wasn’t born here, rather I chose to relocate here, recognising and celebrating all the good things on offer for my family and our mutual wellness.
Fergus and Elora maintain their small town feels while simultaneously attracting growth, sustaining a diverse community and promoting a burgeoning population. The new communities currently under development abut geographical boundary lines and foster growth like we have not previously encountered. I was fortunate enough to chat with Mayor Kelly Linton recently to ask a few questions pertaining to where he sees Centre Wellington 5 years from today, his responses were incredibly positive and illuminating.
Mayor Kelly explained to me how the government is mandating healthy growth in Ontario towns and added that there are strong incentives in place to meet these community and development goals. Such incentives are specific and localised, aiming to improve our economy and add value to our own community. No growth means no incentives, and it also means being left behind which is the consummate death rattle for small-town living.
Centre Wellington has an obligation to grow to a population of 50,000 by 2041. The latest 2016 census counted a mere 28,000 residents so fasten your seatbelts, adjust the mirror and hold on tight, it promises to be one heck of a ride. ‘Intensification’ has become the pre-emptive word of the moment and land being used for new developments must include a more compact plan of subdivision than previously encountered. As witnessed by the recent new communities of Summerfields, Westminster Highlands, Storybrook and Elora Meadows (to name but a few) we are seeing townhouses, 3 and 4 storey condos, semis and detached homes invigorate a landscape previously dominated by spacious residences on grand lots. This has to be a good thing for Fergus and Elora right? Well, with a solid Growth Management Strategy in place I believe we can rest assured that our growth will have a positive overall impact while maintaining the small-town vibe that we all love.
Centre Wellington is currently completing a Transportation Master Plan to address the impact of more people, more cars, more traffic and the inevitable increase in wear and tear on our already suffering arteries. The St David Street bridge is currently being re-built as I tap clumsily on my keyboard. This Master Plan will also consider the potential of additional river crossings and maybe the construction of a ring road around downtown Fergus to divert through traffic away from the core.
More homes bring more families with more children, and plans to construct a school within the Storybrook development are underway in order to ease the stress on existing educational facilities. This, in turn, will create jobs, nurture our economy and boost local productivity. The same applies to food and grocery accessibility. New stores will inevitably make their way into our community as the development journey continues, undoubtedly creating healthy competition and more choice for local consumers.
However, Mayor Kelly and his team are mindful that municipal taxes need to be shared by homeowners and industry alike, and Council is working on an aggressive plan to attract business and industry to Centre Wellington. This by default will create jobs and a thriving economy, and perhaps more of our youth will choose to stay here rather than migrating to larger cities for post-educational employment opportunities.
The new Groves Hospital construction is well underway and the board is actively seeking medical professionals to add to the payroll. Again creating more jobs and a healthier local economy while providing a broader range of necessary healthcare services for our community at large.
All in all, the development and construction that we are experiencing today is preparing Centre Wellington for an economically healthy and sustainable path far into the future. The local community has had the opportunity to be involved in the process from the outset through surveys and public forums, through newspaper notices and web-based connections. Mayor Kelly operates from a collaborative platform of transparency, negotiation and a deep understanding of Centre Wellington. This is an incredible time to invest in Fergus and Elora, whether as a business or a new homeowner, property values are primed to increase exponentially. From 2016 to 2017 alone we experienced a 13% appreciation in the sale price of single-family dwellings and this is only going to increase as more amenities and more families discover the beauty and soul of the area.
Better dig out your favourite shades folks, the future here is going to be wonderfully bright.