John Wright 2020-2021

·2 min read

East Kent councillor John Wright likens 2020 to a stalled vehicle.

With the pandemic affecting every aspect of life — including a switch to governing virtually — the Ward 4 councillor says Chatham-Kent hasn’t moved forward.

But on the other hand, the Highgate business owner says the municipality has managed to hold its own.

“We’ve handled the pandemic well,” Wright says, adding that even when population is vaccinated, it’s going to take time to return to normal.

“It will go back after but it may take years to recover,” the Ridgetown resident says, adding the pandemic’s challenges are similar to what is faced during a recession.

“I think we’re going to lose some businesses along the way,” he adds. “We’ve got to be strong.”

Wright — who served on Highgate council prior to amalgamation in 1998 — thinks there is one segment that growing stronger in Chatham-Kent and that’s the voice of rural residents.

“I think rural people are speaking up more than in the past,” he adds.

“We seem to be hearing more from them and that is good.”

The recent controversy over the Bothwell Arena is a case in point, he says, adding the Bothwell Arena Recreation Advisory Committee, did a good job making their concerns known.

“BARAC really got everyone’s attention,” he says. “That group of volunteers can show Chatham-Kent what it’s all about.”

An area of concern for Wright in 2020 is the province’s change to the operation of conservation authorities.

Pushed through in December, the new rules redefine how the authorities’ operate and no one is sure how these changes will affect how the environment is monitored in Chatham-Kent.

“We are surrounded by rivers, lakes and water,” Wright says.

“We’re surrounded by water and someone is going to have to do this,” he says, adding flooding along the Lake Erie shoreline is a pressing concern for the municipality.

So are the Sydenham and Thames River flood diversion projects.

“The conservation authorities are always monitoring (water levels) and putting out notices,” he adds. “It takes up a good part of the budget.”

As for personal goals in 2020, Wright says he achieved one he had his heart set on, when a crosswalk was installed near the Tim Hortons in Ridgetown.

“There was no crosswalk near the school and this is a good accomplishment,” he says. “We needed it.”

Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Herald