Councillor wants C-K to step up its water game

·2 min read

A Chatham-Kent councillor wants to make the most of the local waterways.

On Monday, West Kent Coun. Melissa Harrigan will be presenting a motion to develop a working group focused on water in Chatham-Kent.

“It’s actually something that I campaigned on – getting a more holistic water strategy discussed in Chatham-Kent because many of our communities touch water in some way shape or form,” she said.

Harrigan said the group would not so much be focused on conservation, although that would play a part, but rather “what we should do in terms of access to water and bridge repair.”

“I’m looking out my window now, there’s a river in my backyard, and I’d love to see more people kayaking on that river,” she said.

Compared to other waterfront communities, Chatham-Kent's natural amenities are under-promised and not well recognized, according to Harrigan.

“I want to see very much what I would describe as a celebration of water.”

Some of the initiatives Harrigan has in mind include increasing rental locations for kayakers and paddlers.

There is already a movement in Wheatley to develop the harbour and waterfront, as well as Wallaceburg where there’s a movement to have supportive infrastructure that enables WAMBO further, according to Harrigan.

Harrigan said more public access to the water will draw in more tourism, both locally and from neighbouring regions, which in turn will also help raise awareness of conservation efforts.

Recently local kayaker Sally Joyce gained attention by local media for cleaning up the rivers, hauling laundry bags full of garbage. Harrigan referenced that as another example of projects she hopes the working group can help expand on.

“We’ve had a lot of challenges and I think there’s a lot of opportunities for us to embrace water,” she said. “We need to get feedback and pull people together to talk about what the best approach is. ”

“I’d like to see Chatham-Kent step up its game.”

Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice