Brockton council to discuss future direction for Walkerton BIA

·3 min read

BROCKTON – Mayor Chris Peabody highlighted a number of items on the Sept. 28 council agenda.

A survey on future directions for the Walkerton BIA took place. The staff recommendation, as stated on the meeting agenda, is for a mail-out to all BIA members so they may vote on the path forward. A report will be presented at the next council meeting.

The survey, open to all Brockton residents, followed an information session on Aug. 18. The purpose was to gather feedback in addition to the phone calls and emails that came in. Survey results showed strong support for a Chamber of Commerce model, although some of the comments echoed those received by other means that expressed dissatisfaction of businesses outside the downtown core. There is considerable resentment to paying a levy that does not appear to benefit them directly.

The survey results were presented to the BIA board, which decided to recommend the BIA remain status quo at this time, with some changes to staffing and the office plan.

It remains to be seen whether council supports the staff recommendation for this important issue.

A key area of discussion at the meeting involves the Strategic Plan, which Peabody said will be available for the public to view.

The East Ridge business park remains an important topic. Peabody said council is considering declaring just under five acres of municipal land in the business park surplus and available for sale. The mayor said he’d like to see that land used for affordable housing. What he has in mind is finding a developer to build rent-geared-to-income apartments.

The municipality would retain ownership of about 16 acres, said Peabody.

“We have some great land,” said the mayor.

And the area has a housing crisis. He said conversation with a member of his council indicated rising rents were affecting people who live on ODSP (disability) in two ways – directly, through increased costs, and indirectly, since personal support workers can’t afford local rents.

In a related issue, Peabody said in an interview that he’ll be seeking council’s support in hiring a planner to prepare a letter to be forwarded to Bruce County, expressing dissatisfaction with the county’s “Plan the Bruce” policy.

“We’re not happy with ‘Plan the Bruce,’ and the limits it puts on Brockton,” he said. “It will put constraints on Walkerton for years to come.”

Peabody pointed out that while Wiarton, which is surrounded by land designated as rural, not agricultural, can expand, Walkerton cannot.

“And they’re not letting our villages and hamlets have any potential for growth,” he said.

Peabody said the letter, prepared by a planner, “would show we’re serious,” he said.

Also related to the local housing situation is a draft encampment bylaw coming before council that would prevent people from camping on public land, including trails.

See next week’s Walkerton Herald-Times for coverage of the Sept. 28 council meeting.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

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