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Essex Centre councillors optimistic for town’s future

by Adam Gault

While the events of 2020 may have put a stop to a number of activities across the world, Ward 1 Essex councillors, Joe Garon and Morley Bowman, are pleased with the way the Town was able to adapt to ensure that the numerous municipal projects for 2020 and beyond were able to continue through planning and execution stages. In addition, they were pleased with the overall long-term outlook for the Town as a whole.

  More than halfway through this current Term of Council, both Ward 1 Council members are pleased with the new level of cooperation demonstrated between elected municipal officials, and with how the administration has been able to adapt to conduct business throughout the pandemic.

  “One of the things I was hoping to accomplish when I ran, was to get Council back to a point where we’re working together and trying to move the Town forward,” Garon said. “That’s been a big accomplishment, getting everyone to be on the same page in a lot of cases and working together.”

  In addition to that newfound cooperation between Council members, Bowman added the efforts of the administration and staff in ensuring a smooth transition to virtual meetings, in addition to maintaining the high-level of core services that the residents of Essex have come to expect, have gone a long way in helping the Town navigate the administrative challenges during the pandemic.

  “A lot of credit goes to the staff of the Town, who have made a lot of changes to accomplish that,” Bowman explained of the transition. “Kudos to our staff, a super group. I can’t say enough about them. That’s a big plus, and [they] will help us navigate this quicker.”

Throughout 2020, a number of housing developments were approved and for which ground was broken throughout the Town of Essex, with a number of new subdivisions, apartment/condo approvals, and infill lot development taking shape.

  Both council members spoke positively of these ongoing developments, noting that it demonstrates that Essex continues to be an attractive area in which to reside and raise families, in addition to becoming a more attractive town for future business and industry.

  “Essex Centre in particular, has seen a lot of growth, and it continues,” Garon said, adding that the Town should explore the idea of additional townhouse and condo developments. “We have a lot of senior residents that are looking to get out of their bigger house and move into something more condominium-style, where they can just lock the door and leave for three months.”

  Bowman stated he was pleased to see the continuation of development throughout the year, and that the influx of new houses and residents would be a boon for area businesses.

  “If you look back in the past and you talk to anybody, it’s ‘How’s our town expanding?’” Bowman said, noting that the construction of a packaging plant in town is a sign of that development. “Businesses look for that. If you’re going to set up a business in town, that’s the thing you’re looking for.”

  While both Councillors acknowledge that the next little while will be tough, hope that with the continued rollout of the vaccines over the next several months, in addition to the Town’s strong financial standing, will ensure that Essex is in as strong a position to get back to normal as any other Ontario municipality.

  “Essex is looking up. We have a good team, we have good administration,” Garon explained. “We have residents who are passionate about where they live and their community, and are on top of community involvement.”

  Again, acknowledging the unwavering commitment from municipal staff, Bowman added the Town’s fiscal responsibility will contribute to that strong social and economic recovery.

  “The Town is pretty sound financially too, and that’s again to the treasury department and finance department,” Bowman said. “Our reserves are in a good place. It’s a new year, and hopefully it’s going to be a great year for us.”