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Promises not kept Part 2

By John Sigurjonsson

Recently I wrote about the municipality’s Official Plan, “Municipal staff is hard at work on a comprehensive review of the municipality’s Official Plan. That plan is a promise to the citizens of the municipality and to the Provincial Government that the municipal Council will take action as spelled out in the Plan. Is that promise being honoured? Let’s have a look:” Review of the promises to increase forest cover, urban agriculture, and active transportation showed promises not kept.

Here are a few more promises from the Official Plan and the municipality’s follow-through:

Promise: Private development shall be encouraged to provide facilities such as bicycle parking that is appropriately designed and properly located. Appropriately designed and properly located bicycle parking shall be required at all new municipal facilities. The Municipality shall undertake a program to provide appropriately designed and properly located bicycle parking at existing facilities.

Action taken: The municipality got a grant to fund purchase and installation of bike racks. A few were scattered  around municipal sites, many  in unusable locations. Many more are still in storage years later. Downtown merchants have requested provision for bike parking but been ignored.

Promise: The Municipality shall work with the school boards and other agencies and community groups to promote and support school travel planning to support active transportation.

Action taken: School travel planning (Active and Safe  Routes to School) was initially approved by  Council about ten years ago. So far it has been only partially implemented for only one school.

Promise: Community Improvement Plans shall be prepared and adopted to:
a) encourage the renovation, repair, rehabilitation, remediation, redevelopment or other improvement of lands and/or buildings;
b) encourage residential and other types of infill and intensification;
c) upgrade and improve municipal services and public utilities such as sanitary sewers, storm sewers, water mains, roads and sidewalks;
d) encourage the preservation, restoration, adaptive reuse and improvement of historical or architecturally significant buildings;
h) promote the ongoing viability and revitalization of the downtowns and main streets in the Primary and Secondary Urban Centres as the focus of pedestrian-oriented retail, civic, cultural, entertainment and government uses.

Action taken: The rich architectural heritage in our downtowns remains at serious risk, with vacant or underutilized store fronts and vacant upper floors. The recent development initiative in downtown Chatham has taken the form of demolition and replacement, not  “renovation, repair, rehabilitation, remediation, redevelopment”

Promise: Ensure that the service levels and infrastructure provided to business reinforce the overall competitiveness of Chatham-Kent.

Action taken: Infrastructure support to the Bradley Center, call centers,  St Clair College, the ethanol plant, its related greenhouses and our downtowns are virtually non-existent. Walkway and bikeway access are not provided, and roadways are inadequate and in disrepair.

The cost-cutting element in Municipal Council and Administration continues to drag us on a race to the bottom, downgrading our communities and crippling our ability to attract and hold residents and businesses.