Recommendation 1: Formation of a CK Council Report Group
We ask Council to invite members of the CK Council Report Group to sit on a variety of Committees of Council and Boards. We ask that members of Council and senior staff be proactive in asking the Council Report Group for input. The expertise and solution-based perspectives of sector leaders will prove invaluable to Council and Administration in making financial decisions that will impact CK growth, today and tomorrow. It will also serve to set a benchmark with the municipality, providing data and metrics to keep Council’s targets focused on people, jobs and the tax base.
Recommendation 2: Restart Chatham-Kent’s Economy (Short-Term)
- Minimum of $2 M one-time Property Tax forgiveness program and Grants programs for businesses which are unable to re-open due to the strict guidelines set forth by all levels of government.
- This minimum $2M Relief Program should be funded by selling buildings, reducing services or infrastructure that is least used. It should not be funded through a tax increase.
- The 2021 Municipal budget should not include tax increases.
- Should the Municipality receive any funding for C-19 recovery from upper levels of government all these funds should go towards supporting economic recovery strategies or tactics in the Growth strategy.
Recommendation 3: Grow Chatham-Kent’s Economy (Mid-Term and Long-Term)
Ensure the sustained growth of businesses, industry and residential development by investing in infrastructure and programs that will encourage growth. The following items came from a combination of sector discussions and Council reports. We recommend action on the following:
Create industrial and residential growth. Create centralized sites that focus on cost benefits and synergies for utilities (electric, gas, water, wastewater, internet), transit and rail, access to 401 corridor which provides the best access to workforce and residential housing
- Create a centralized industrial park. Maximize efficiencies and synergies with infrastructure
- Create a residential housing development strategy
- Consider development charges as a source of revenue to pay for infrastructure
- Continue to invest and expedite construction of high speed internet for urban and rural parts of Chatham-Kent
- Review and dedicate more funds to municipal Brownfield, Bluefield and Greenfield strategies
- Build more Private/Public partnerships
- Build infrastructure and programs to support quality of life that will give this community a balance between future growth and quality of life services. This will attract people to Chatham-Kent and support growth.
- Consider offering a lease to own and/or long-term leases through a public/private option with CK, thereby allowing more cash to remain in the businesses
- Offer debentures to fund infrastructure that offers a return on investment (ROI) for the Municipality--both industrial and residential
- De-politicize hard decisions that need to be made for growth opportunities, which may include: o Identify lands for future business parks and purchase despite political concerns
- Land swap opportunities with existing land owners that best aligns municipality up with the CK Plan 2035, Official Plan, and Growth Strategy
- Council to be responsible for governance and to hold Land Development Corporation accountable
- Create a greenhouse development strategy and partner with the gas company and the water providers, hydro suppliers and all utilities to promote and market new opportunities along their new pipeline
- The Municipality to allow staff to work from home on a permanent basis and reduce office space and buildings required
- Reduction of services and infrastructure assets.
- Reduction based on least used assets and services
- Use surplus funds/savings to invest in growth infrastructure and assets that both yield an ROI, as well as meet the targets for 2035 growth strategy
- Complete a Comprehensive Agriculture Food and Processing Industry - Business Development Review.
- Build on the $3 Billion industry revenue in CK that employs 17,000 workers in the sector
- Investigate processing plant opportunities – soybeans, brussels sprouts, etc.
- Develop a master list of skill sets required and local training opportunities in partnership with St. Clair College and University of Guelph-Ridgetown campus, to identify opportunities and utilize their expertise to grow agri-business through supply and processing chains
Recommendation 4: Decision Making in Chatham-Kent
Our goal is “We are CK” – where decisions are made to better the whole of CK. We acknowledge that this can be challenging for Councillors who have to balance the needs of their wards while thinking of the whole. The Task Force recommends a review of how the Council makes decisions. The following items are recommended:
- Council to focus on the big picture and not get in the weeds of identifying what sidewalk will be updated, etc. Council should give administration the authority to use their expertise and reduce services or infrastructures within an agreed upon criteria
- A Land Development Corporation be created that can act as a board over business parks, land development, and investment in growth
Recommendation 5: Review all Task Force Sector Recommendations and Comments.
Sector groups have provided a tremendous amount of ideas that can be implemented now and going forward (Appendix E). We recommend the CK Council Report Group and senior staff review these, bringing further recommendations to Council and Federal/Provincial Governments, or others.
Staff should consider which recommendations and ideas can be implemented immediately, in the short-term, mid-term, and longer-term.
Staff should advise which ideas should be advocated to the Provincial or Federal governments to support the various sectors.