Residents, business owners to weigh in on future of Erieau

·2 min read
Scott Vidler is a board member of the Erieau Community Association and vice-chair of the strategic planning committee. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)
Scott Vidler is a board member of the Erieau Community Association and vice-chair of the strategic planning committee. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)

The village of Erieau in Chatham-Kent is transitioning from an industry-based community to a tourism and recreation-based community, and with that comes growing pains.

Traffic congestion, parking and the impact of short-term rentals on the housing market are some of the concerns that have come up in a recent online survey of residents.

The Erieau Community Association and the municipality are holding public sessions Saturday to discuss the results of that survey and the future direction of the community.

Scott Vidler, chair of the association's strategic planning committee, said the community has seen a big shift.

"Erieau has transitioned from an industrial community with a coal yard and a commercial fish packing plant to a residential and tourist community," he said. "And what we're looking at now is, where do we go in the future."

There are around 400 residents in the community, which juts out into Lake Erie, but the population swells from 1,200 to 1,400 in the summer, Vidler estimated.

He calls Erieau the gem of Chatham-Kent. Vidler grew up in the village, left in 1977 and came back in 2019.

His view is that there needs to be care and consideration into how the region develops.

"As we grow into a tourist destination...how do we manage that so that the permanent residents aren't squeezed out, and that's squeezed out in the summer time with high traffic, a lot of congestion. That's why we have a strategy committee is to look at the future. What do we need so everybody can prosper in Erieau — the residents and the tourists that come."

The goal of the community association is to develop a multi-year strategic plan.

"What we want to do is influence Chatham-Kent's budget on how to spend money in Erieau," Vidler said.

Though many of the survey's respondents expressed concern about erosion, that issue is not within the scope of the group's work.

Randy Rolls, who owns the Eau Buoy restaurant, came to the area three years ago. As a business owner who relies on tourism, he says the more people the better.

"People are doing what they're doing and people want to get away from Toronto and different areas and they're buying down here, and you know, more power to 'em," he said.

The public information sessions are taking place at Erieau Community Hall on Saturday. There is one starting at 9 a.m. and one at 1:30 p.m.

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