This column will first appear in the Jan. 1, 2020 edition of Seaway News. It is the start of a new year and new decade. I’m going to take this time to set some goals and predictions for our coverage area over the next ten years.
1. Cornwall will break 50,000 population
It has been a milestone that has been on Cornwall’s horizon for many years, breaking the 50,000 population mark. According to current projections, if Cornwall’s population growth continues along current trends, we are not expected to hit 50,000 until 2036, but there is a lot going on in this city today, and I am optimistic that because of other factors that are in our future that we will exceed 50,000 people by the end of the 2020s.
2. Council size will shrink
Over the past few years there has been talk about Cornwall City Council cutting a few seats. I’m hearing this talk more and more over the past year both inside and outside Council Chambers. I’ve heard a lot of discussion about two things, whether or not Cornwall should reconsider the ward system and that Cornwall needs to shrink the size of Council.
While I no longer think that a ward system would be beneficial to the city, I do think that there is merit to the idea of cutting council seats. Ten councillors and a mayor seems like a lot for a city Cornwall’s size. Even the mayor has said that the number of councillors seems high to her.
By cutting the size of council, not only will it save a little bit of money for the taxpayers, but I also think that it would lead to a shrinking number of committees as committees merge to better suit the fewer number of councillors to go around.
3. Waterfront development
Another one that has been in the works for a long time, but now that a new Waterfront Master Plan has been adopted by Cornwall City Council, expect to see development begin.
I think we will see relatively small projects completed first, such as the implementation of pop-up shops as lobbied for by Councillor Todd Bennett, and at least one major land purchase from the federal government, perhaps in partnership with Akwesasne, perhaps not.
I expect that we will see big moves on this file sooner rather than later. This Council passed the new waterfront plan, they must be the first to make a big move if they want to set the tone for the future.
4. Economic diversification
I think we are already starting to see the dawn of a changing economy in Cornwall. This year we’ve added new distribution centres, and a new call centre, but I think we should not discount the number of new businesses we have seen spring up over the past year.
Especially downtown, we are seeing formerly empty storefronts be filled by unique and attractive shops, whether they be for popcorn, brunch, or a great gifts. Cornwall is showing itself as a great place to start a small business.
We are also seeing that Cornwall is a place seeking to upskill. Institutions like St. Lawrence College, the Ontario Emerging Jobs Institute (OEJI), and The Cornwall Innovation Centre, now known as CREATE, are not only supporting small businesses through their remote workspaces, guidance and other resources, they are also helping us grow a skilled workforce and future entrepreneurs.
This growing skilled workforce will attract new business sectors to Cornwall. The City will become more tech friendly creating better paying jobs and attracting young families.
5. Diversification of the Cornwall identity
I’ve talked about how in Cornwall’s future lies a growing population and a growing economy, but the future also has in store a growing cultural identity for Cornwall.
We are already seeing the beginning of this. Cornwall’s French community is actively working to bring more Francophones to Cornwall. Cornwall has many advantages for new Canadians. We are close to major cities, we are affordable, we are big enough to have all the amenities, but small enough for newcomers to feel welcomed and to find their place.
Like population and economy, cultural identity is a fluid thing. The cultural identity of Cornwall will change. New immigrants will come to Cornwall because it is a great place to live. There are plenty of jobs to be had, and new ideas and new ways of thinking will make Cornwall a more dynamic, rich, and innovative community.
What do you think readers? Where will Cornwall be in 10 years? Email me a Letter to the Editor at email@example.com