If you grew up in Oakville, you've surely been amazed by the immense growth over the years. If your new to town, or considering a move, who better than Oakville’s Mayor to share some recent highlights and his outlook moving forward.
"As an amateur economist, I'm happy to say: I think Oakville's fundamentals are really strong. We're attracting head-office construction projects, including Canadian Tire Financial and the recently announced Siemens Canada build, and there's more to come."
When asked what factors into location choices on these high-profile projects, he says "Decision makers have identified Oakville's livability in their decisions -- not cost; stating Oakville's worth it!"
And it's not just businesses moving to Oakville in greater numbers. Families are growing here also. Mayor Burton thinks, "Most people seem to choose Oakville because it represents a set of values that separates them from what they see as the defects of the places they've come from. Above all, they're coming here to raise children. The stats bare this out with our town's average age at 3 - 4 years younger than the national average, and the percentage of homes is higher than the national average also."
Further to this, he says, "I'm blown away by the harmony in the diversity I see!"
The Mayor also commented on how Oakville manages a delicate balance between heritage preservation and practical growth - "I start from a commitment to heritage. My stance with developers is simple. If they will work within Oakville's vision, I tell them, they will never find a better partner. I also tell them, if they want to fool with us they will never forget the experience. This is a community that is only willing to grow on it's own terms." As an example of this, the Mayor points north - "If North Oakville develops the way it's supposed to, in our adopted plan, you'll see 14 or 15 village-like nodes up there. They'll mostly be between Sixteen Mile Creek and Trafalgar Road, and Dundas and Burnhamthorpe... sort of a rectangle."
Then there's the development of a unique community centre in southwest Oakville, re-purposing the former Queen Elizabeth Park High School building into a multi-purpose facility. "It's a great opportunity to reuse/recycle an existing town-owned facility for future good.” Scheduled to open in March 2012, work is well underway on the 145,000 square foot facility that will house musical space, theatre space, gallery space and more. "It's immense!" the Mayor says. "When you see it, it will blow your mind!"
Also on the horizon is a “long overdue dressing-up of the west side of the Sixteen Mile Creek Harbour. Then we have Centennial Square, on the east side, which is being reimagined for rejuvenation. One of theses visions was created, Pro Bono, by internationally renowned Architect Thomas Payne. It addresses the waterfront in a very satisfying way that connects us to it again… with balconies, and promenade and patio activities; versus what is addressing us right now, which is asphalt parking lots.”
You'll often hear Mayor Burton reference Oakville's goal, to become 'the most livable town in Canada.' “It is an aspirational goal, and it's meant to guide people in their day-to-day decision-making. You can't go wrong if you're moving toward that. It's not a goal, it's a vision!"