Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff delivers an address to the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce a the Retro Suites in Chatham, May 25, 2023. (Photo by Kirk Dickinson/CKXS News)

Chatham-Kent’s mayor is stressing the importance of making strategic investments to attract more people to the community and continue to grow the municipality.

While addressing the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce on Thursday at the Retro Suites, Mayor Darrin Canniff said CK is currently in a great financial position.

“When you look at when we first amalgamated to where we are now — we’re sitting with very healthy reserves [and] virtually no debt,” he said. “We can afford to invest and what we decide to invest in now will impact generations to come.”

The mayor pointed to the provincial government’s plan to build 1.5 million homes in Ontario over the next 10 years and said it will set Chatham-Kent up for success “in a big way.”

“In Ontario they expect a lot more people coming here. This is where it sets up for us as Chatham-Kent to say, we want a fair share of the people coming here [and] the investments coming here,” said Canniff.

“We need to invest to attract people. If we don’t, people are going to go elsewhere.”

Canniff said the municipality needs to bolster community infrastructure by investing in projects like the proposed redevelopment of downtown Chatham. He said these kinds of investments are critical to making Chatham-Kent a more attractive community.

“We haven’t made an investment like that for a long time and we’re due to make those investments,” the mayor said. “We’d be taking on debt but we’re going to build those facilities which will bring business, which will bring people here [and] they’re going to be paying taxes. Everything we’re looking at, we’re putting it through an investment lens — we’re investing in our community to make it a better place.”

The mayor said the next few years will be critical to Chatham-Kent’s success as a community.

“This is the beginning of our future,” said Canniff. “In the end, I want us to be the best community in Canada.”