What can Hawkesbury do better? In early May of this year, council gave the $31,500 mandate to WSP, a professional services firm, to create a community improvement plan (CIP) to give the town some guidelines concerning its development. A few months later, WSP presented their first draft of the plan to council on the regular meeting of August 28.

A CIP is a planning and economic development tool that municipalities can use to address maintenance, rehabilitation, development and redevelopment of targeted areas. The CIP goals include stimulating private sector investment through grants and loans from the Town, promoting revitalization to attract tourism and business development, develop affordable housing, promote brown field cleanup and redevelopment and enhance streetscape. The plan was presented by two WSP consultants, Nadia De Santis, Senior Project Manager and Stéphane Doré, urban planner.

The CIP focused mostly on the downtown area which includes Main Street and Regent Street and tackled the issue of brown fields. Nadia De Santis presented multiple before and after mock-ups of streets from other cities WSP had contracts with. They also showed a map of Hawkesbury with all the sectors that needed improvement.

Councillor Michel Thibodeau questioned the feasibility of the improvements weighed against the actual budget and so did Hawkesbury Mayor Jeanne Charlebois. Santis acknowledged that the recommendations were not all feasible at this time and that the CIP is more of a guideline to develop the Town over a long-term period. It also helps the Town acquire grants for developers.

When De Santis talked about waterfront development, Councillor Thibodeau mentioned that the only waterfront available, 139 acres on the Town’s west side, was privately owned and could not be developed without the owner’s consent and participation.

After the exchange concerning the 139 acres of waterfront property, De Santis presented the draft vision statement: We will rethink Hawkesbury as an active and prosperous regional hub with dynamic business opportunities, a vibrant community, and an unparalleled quality of life.

Mayor Charlebois mentioned that the hospital should be mentioned in the vision since it’s such a big part of the community. The final CIP documents should be approved by council by December 2017.