March 02, 2016

What are the top things you’d like to see in Erin?

As published in The Erin Advocate

The list could be quite long, but let’s start with the top three. What things would you like to see in Erin? The question is being asked by Robyn Mulder, the Town’s Economic Development Officer.

Of course, we already have some great stores, restaurants and services, but more economic activity is clearly needed. There has been some gloom and doom talk lately due to a number of vacant storefronts, especially Mundell Lumber.

We’ve been suffering from a lack of new population and affordable housing, which is impacting businesses, schools and non-profit organizations. The community remains very attractive and resilient, though and I believe that moderate growth will resume in the next few years.

Some new businesses are moving into downtown Erin village. Mejores Foods is selling meats, cheeses, baking supplies and bulk foods. Brighten Up Toys and Games has expanded its educational camp facilities.

A Benjamin Moore Paints outlet has opened at Decor Solutions. The Busholme Inn is being renovated and will reopen soon. Snowberry Botanicals has moved in beside Treehaven Natural Foods, offering floral arrangements and bouquets, plus event planning and rentals.

The former Renaissance location will soon have a store called Epiphany – a second location for Laura Demers who has operated the Epiphany store in Elora for the last five years. It is a boutique specializing in affordable clothing, plus accessories, books, cards and gifts.

I’ve been hearing rumours of new developments at the old Guardian Fiberglass plant, and the old elementary school, so some good news would be welcome at those locations.

Erin needs a full-fledged trail system to help attract visitors and residents to our stores and natural areas. We have some good trails now, but a riverside boardwalk in Erin village and a trail around the Hillsburgh pond would be huge steps forward.

A retirement home would be a perfect fit, and more children in the community would be a welcome boost to the daycare / nursery school sector.

There have been efforts to create an outlet for reusable household goods (similar to Wastewise in Georgetown), and I remain hopeful that it will happen some day. It would be nice to have electronics and sporting goods stores, but we need the right population and market conditions to make them financially viable.

In 2012, I proposed building a Big Shamrock, a huge, green icon of our identity that could be known around the world – in the same way that the Big Nickel has put Sudbury on the map. Read more by Googling: erin “big shamrock”.

Revitalizing our commercial areas with more of what people want and need all year round will add value to the “buy local” proposition. Progress will be built on confidence in the town’s future, so it is in everyone’s interest to be salespeople for the community – building it up and talking it up.

“I’m focusing on small, independent businesses,” said Mulder. “The biggest part of my job is connecting with people.” You can call her with your comments at 519-855-4407 ext. 241, email, or drop in for a chat at the Town office.

It was a big step for the Town to hire someone with the expertise to help retain existing businesses and recruit new ones. The least we can do is tell her what we want.