Campion: Welland needs to attract new residents

by Kris Dubé , The Welland Tribune

Welland’s economic outlook is on its way up after it hit “rock bottom” many years ago, Mayor Frank Campion told a crowd of about 100 people at city hall Thursday morning.

His annual mayor’s breakfast, held at the civic square library, was an opportunity for Campion to share a list of recent accomplishments and struggles the municipality has on its plate.

More than $9 million in surplus properties being sold last year, conversations with potential developers from places such as the United Arab Emirates and China, the need for a second industrial park as a result of new companies coming to the city — these are some of the highlights Campion celebrated in his presentation.

He also cited a 6,750-square-metre expansion at Northern Gold Foods, a breakfast bar food manufacturer, as an example of industry succeeding locally.

The Innio factory on Highway 140, formerly owned by General Electric, is employing 180 people and still has room for another 50 to 60 employees, Campion said at the breakfast, which was also a fundraiser for United Way.

He said this is a step in the right direction to make Welland an even more “liveable, workable and sustainable community” and that attracting new residents is also a focus of the municipality.

“We’re getting jobs, but we need people who want to live here,” he said, pointing out that 400 building permits were approved last year.

Niagara’s third-largest community, Welland is a place that has plenty to offer — including peace and quiet, he said in his 30-minute speech.

“We’re a medium-sized city that’s actually a small town.”

Campion also called the Welland Canal a “destination” that should be used to attract new residents along its corridor, something the municipality is working on.

“Council and staff are committed to leading this charge,” he said, expecting an influx of new homes along the canal in the next 20 years.

The Lincoln Street docks project is also an important step — especially with a second phase recently approved by council.

“It should be a great destination for locals and for people from out of town,” Campion said.

Communication with residents is also vital, and the city’s Your Channel tool on its website will be a helpful asset as it grows, he said.

“We’re ramping that up and we’re going to see that expand and become more popular.”

He also stressed the importance of Welland International Flatwater Centre as an important asset.