With another year coming to a close, Caledon residents may be curious what their thriving community has in store for 2018. The area has been experiencing significant growth and Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson is certainly not lacking enthusiasm about the municipality’s future.
He’s thrilled with the progress in 2017 and very motivated to make further progress. So why all the excitement for what some would call a quiet rural community?
The municipality – which includes a series of quaint towns and villages, along with the bursting-at-the-seams Town of Bolton – is becoming the “go to” area for those wanting to live in a rural setting with essential amenities and yet close to the cities of Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan, and Toronto. According to Thompson, the 2014-2018 council is much different from previous versions. The mix of residents working in the city with the influx of new businesses into Caledon means more attention needs to be paid to meet both transit and infrastructure needs.
“We’re way behind on our infrastructure and where we need to be,” said Thompson, who is also sensitive to keeping property taxes reasonable. Thompson also supports the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) initiative to have the provincial government dedicate a portion of provincial sales tax to a permanent fund for infrastructure. “To catch up with our infrastructure needs, we can’t keep hitting the tax base all the time.”
To ensure Caledon’s growth is supported with effective transportation and infrastructure initiatives, municipal council is actively monitoring what’s working, where growth is occurring, and planning accordingly. Even Peel Region’s growth plan acknowledges that Caledon is expected to grow from 75,000 people to 160,000 by 2041.
“Sixty-seven percent of commuter traffic, in the 2011 study that the town did, passes through Caledon north and south, on our town roads,” said Thompson. “Commuters who don’t live or work here.”
And indications are that’s already starting to change. Mayfield West is also expanding and the Mayfield Road expansion to six lanes will provide cross traffic relief.
Bolton (population 30,000), the main community within Caledon, has grown significantly. The town’s employment figures have doubled over the last ten years. A few years ago, international clothing manufacturer, Gap, chose Bolton to build its distribution hub for online sales throughout Canada.
Recognizing digital growth and the need to provide support to start-ups, Thompson would also like to see a business incubator in Bolton. That initiative also coincides with Caldeon’s determination to have fibre broadband throughout the municipality.
“I think we have a huge opportunity with some old town infrastructure that we can turn into something where people can work and meet,” he said. “They don’t have to go to Toronto all the time.
“If we don’t find a place and create a hub to allow these people to meet, greet, and share ideas, we’re going to be exporting that talent to the major urban centers. I think we have a huge opportunity to keep that talent here. People don’t always have to be in the common centers now anymore.”
With 80 per cent of Caledon protected from development and the remaining area altering swiftly, Thompson and the rest of council have a busy year ahead. Growth is flowing, almost as fast as the Credit River.