Planning the Wilmot of the Future: Growth in a Rural Context

As the 2022 Municipal election day is approaching, the Regional Official Plan is being reviewed. Proposed growth targets in the plan would see Wilmot’s population grow by roughly six thousand. Considering how to welcome these potential newcomers is an exciting challenge.

Preserving the feel of our rural community through that growth is possible. This is a place where people nod and smile to each other on the streets, even if they don’t know each other by name. A place where tragedy is met with empathy and an outpouring of support. That comes of having community spirit that has been nurtured by volunteers, strengthened through annual events and celebrations, and rooted in the long history of farming and rural life that is our foundation in Wilmot.

Ensuring that we have strategies in place to create a specific and targeted welcome process for people coming here will enable even the most recent residents to connect with their neighbours and find local businesses. Our township can partner with the business community and local community organizations to develop a package of information and invitations to provide a variety of ways for people to get to know their new home.

However, growth is not just about welcoming newcomers. Many of the people who live here now will be looking for a place to live that enables them to stay in the community as they age. Young people growing up here need to be able to find homes that enable them to move out as they reach adulthood without having to leave Wilmot.

To meet the needs of both young people and older adults, development should be focused on higher density, walkable neighbourhoods, with connections to trails, recreation facilities, and easy access to the basic necessities. Creatively increasing the density will allow us to have neighbourhoods that accommodate more people without making it feel industrial. There are a variety of development styles and innovations that make livable, inviting spaces that are also efficient use of space. Our community deserves the best and we can demand better from the developments we approve.

Building better means homes that are space and energy efficient. It means transit options and active transportation routes that are effective enough to enable people to get to where they need to go without having to own a car. It means supporting our local business community to ensure that we have the thriving small downtown cores that offer residents what they need, and attract visitors. It means infrastructure that is upgraded for and adapted to the realities of climate change. It also means protecting and preserving our farmland, heritage landscapes, and natural resources.

We have a wealth of natural resources, community spirit, and entrepreneurial innovation here. If we build better and work together as Township and community, Wilmot will not only continue to be wonderful, but will be even better for the next generations.