Russell Township looks into the future of development
Employment opportunities for youth, a recreational complex, hotels and a business registry were just a few ideas that were brought up by the Russell Township council members, as part of their vision for the upcoming Economic Development Strategic Plan.
During a special meeting held on Thursday, October 26, a focus Group was hosted by MDB Insight in order to set up a direction where the community wants to go. Earlier in the day, Russell Township administration staff had also provided their input on the same topics.
“Russell has had a pretty strong run, growing at a steady rate,” said Senior Development analyst Erle Lamothe, while pointing out key highlights. In fact, the last 15 years has seen an increase of 33 per cent in population, which represents about 2000 people since 2001.
The main discussion was geared towards giving a self-portrait of the Township’s assets and economic drivers, as well as the major challenges facing local economy, opportunities for growth and development in the next three to five years.
Overall, the dome, the fitness and nature trail as well as the sense of community were on top of the list of positive news and assets. On top of having the lowest tax rate in Prescott-Russell, the Township has been voted the 21st best place to live in Canada, as well as the 16th for being the best place to raise children. In Ontario, Russell is the third best place to raise children.
Challenges mentioned that could obstruct growth were youth employment, transportation and lack of recreational facilities, such as swimming pools, arenas and baseball fields.
From a business perspective, the idea of an official business registry, to showcase what is available locally was also put forth. Better communication with businesses was also on the wish list.
“Another challenge is managing expectations, said mayor Pierre Leroux. There is often a big difference in what people want and what they are ready to pay.”
To turn those challenges into opportunities and move towards their vision, an overall plan was suggested, including having the Russell side of Limoges serviced and finding a commercial zone in Russell Village, in addition to the existing 417 Industrial park.
Getting increased revenue from taxation of commercial and industrial interests would therefore help fund projects such as a recreational complex adjacent to the dome, without resorting to residential taxation. In addition, a commercial hub and a hotel could be part of a synergy that would help attract the business and sports communities.
Local businesses and community leaders are expected to be consulted as well, before the consultants can present the first draft of the Economic Development Strategic Plan to council.
“We’re going to have another discussion, this time more focused, demonstrating what the consultations have resulted in and what our key findings are, in a month or so,” concluded Lamothe.
Au cours d’une réunion spéciale tenue le jeudi 26 octobre, un groupe de discussion avait été organisé par MDB Insight afin d’établir une direction à suivre pour le prochain plan stratégique de développement économique de la municipalité de Russell. Les possibilités d’emploi pour les jeunes, un complexe récréatif, des hôtels et un registre des entreprises n’étaient que quelques idées qui ont été soulevées par les membres du conseil durant la discussion ciblée. Plus tôt dans la journée, le personnel de l’administration de Russell avait également donné son avis sur les mêmes sujets. Une fois la communauté d’affaires consultée, les consultants, dont l’analyste Erle Lamothe que l’on retrouve sur la photo, soumettront une première ébauche afin de finaliser le plan, d’ici environ un mois.