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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Councillors and administration take to Harrow streets to host walk-about

by Adam Gault

Town of Essex councillors, staff, and members of administration, made their way through Harrow Centre on Monday afternoon as part of the Town’s ‘Walk-About’ initiative, which seeks to provide an on-the-ground understanding of issues and challenges facing the Town of Essex’s urban centres.

Having conducted walk-about events in Essex Centre and Harrow Centre over the past several years, Monday’s walk-about was the first held in Harrow since October 2017.

“We usually take a ‘boots-on-the-ground’ approach to economic development,” Essex’s Economic Development Officer, Nelson Silveira, said of the idea behind the walk-about events. “It’s important for [administration and councillors] to see the first-hand improvements of some of the programs that we offer through the Town of Essex.”

Setting off from the Harrow Veterans Memorial Park, the group members first made their way westward, where they were tasked by Silveira with completing a survey ranking the overall condition of the commercial district in several categories.

These included physical settings, such as street furniture, trees, graffiti, and litter; the condition of transportation infrastructure, including the condition of sidewalks, traffic flow, and accessibility for those with physical disabilities; and commercial building issues, pertaining to exterior building facades, signage, and the number of vacancies and turnover in commercial tenancy.

“We try to keep it pretty positive,” Silveira of the objective of the walk. “What we’re looking at is past improvements, different applicants to the CIP (Community Improvement Plan) program, what kind of projects have happened in the past year, and where improvements can be made.”

Since the inception of the Harrow Centre CIP eight years ago, it has been utilized by numerous Harrow businesses to improve the condition of their facades, and make their businesses more accessibility friendly to individuals with accessibility needs.

Echoing the sentiments of others on Council, Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche noted the Harrow commercial area looks much better than when the walk-about events began in 2014, but there is still work to do.

“There’s new businesses in the downtown, there’s improvements coming, we have a streetscape plan that’s completed and budget discussions will be happening with that as well,” Silveira said. “There’s exciting things happening. Again, these things take time, but there’s a lot of projects on the go and a lot of exciting things happening in Harrow.”

The completed surveys will be collected to prepare a report for Council that will seek to address the issues and challenges noted over the course of the walk with possible solutions to be noted at a later regular Council meeting.

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