There is a terrific facebook group called "Tecumseh, Ontario" that I discovered several months ago whose members pay tribute to the heritage of the Town of Tecumseh. The town has undoubtedly changed over the years. Traffic by-passes and plazas have been built, turning lanes added and buildings have been demolished. Within the group are several photos of Tecumseh Road from years passed.
Back when it was Highway 39, Tecumseh Road was a vibrant place. Inter-city traffic came through our core. As the region grew lanes were added to let us get home quickly. What is now County Road 22 took regional traffic away from the town core and left what was remaining to be reclaimed for its initial, local purpose.
Today's Tecumseh Road has many common elements of the downtown of yesteryear, but we've lost a key component. We have lots of departing vehicle traffic but the corridor sees relatively little foot traffic. Tecumseh Road is still designed to be Highway 39 and as a pedestrian it still feels as such. Therefore, parking and walking the strip on a 4'-wide sidewalk is a less than pleasant experience when you're by foot, especially in the winter when there's a fair amount of ploughed snow drifts.
Looking at some of the quaint little towns that my wife Kristin and I enjoy visiting - Elora, Jordan, and St. Jacobs come to mind, as well as the Walkerville community - there is a lush, historic nature to them that brings us back. The pedestrian connection is a key part of the street. Your day includes a loop including each side of the street and visiting the distinctive shops of the area.
Bringing Tecumseh Road back is the community improvement that I would like to focus upon most if I am elected to Council. I have been involved with streetscaping and other urban road design projects throughout my engineering career and have seen the positive results firsthand. I look forward to seeing the results of the Tecumseh Road Mainstreet Community Improvement Plan that are so far unreleased to the residents of Tecumseh, although the findings of the 2012 workshop can be found here. And once brought to Council for adoption I look forward to supporting and prioritizing this project.
There are numerous reasons why - employment, assessment growth, aesthetics. For me it's a sense of pride in our Town and a way to recapture our history, to give our town some life and help to flesh out our back story. Given the quality of life improvements we experience when we bring in active transportation, new businesses and services to the town, this would be an investment having a solid return.
I would very much appreciate if you can contribute your comments about Tecumseh Road to me through my new survey at http://www.andrewdowie.ca/tecumsehroad . I look forward to reading about your ideas and your thoughts. What kinds of corridor would you like to see Tecumseh Road become? Let me know, and from the outset I thank you very much for your interest and for your information.
One of the most interesting revelations of the campaign has been our evolution as a town. Our families are getting older and younger at the same time. Young and old alike have expressed concern about the viability of the amenities and institutions that make our community.
We are in a period of evolution here in Tecumseh. We've lost several schools in recent memory: St. Anne's High School several years ago and this year's closure of St. Gregory's school and Victoria Public School. These were core assets of our neighbourhoods and town fixtures for many years. It pains me that we're beginning to see abandoned buildings in our town, especially for homes. We're also seeing overcrowding at Tecumseh Vista School only a short time after it was opened. The School Board's decisions suggest that the population of Ward 1 is aging while the population of Ward 3 is getting younger, which, when combined with the reality that fewer adults of my age range are having children, is leading to a smaller school population.
This school consolidation is challenging with respect to planning and traffic issues. With schools further out of reach and outside of a reasonable walking distance, the congestion caused by the new reliance on travel by car to school results in weaving cars, hidden pedestrians, and diverted attention from drivers. While schools remain in the domain of your locally elected trustee, there are consequences to the Town of Tecumseh and its long term future from these decisions and it is a fair expectation that your elected officials from the town speak to this impact. Often missing from the discussion is that educational facilities also provide residents valuable access to recreational facilities, from tracks to soccer fields to playgrounds. Speaking close to home, the 35th Tecumseh Scout Group relies on the school gyms of Tecumseh to ensure that its programming can proceed.
There is no clear age differential when it comes to demand for recreational facilities, especially year-round ones. But demand is certainly there. This is where the oft-cited "Regional Cooperation" mantra comes into play and is where the rubber truly hits the road. For Tecumseh's population and ratio of residential to commercial/industrial taxpayers, I believe that the best opportunity to reach residents' expectations is in considering new recreation opportunities as a service that could be delivered with other municipal partners. With new facilities being constructed in Lakeshore and in East Windsor, I am open to securing partnerships with adjacent municipalities to secure resident rates and to making use of our transit system to reach those facilities.
One recreational commitment that I would support is taken from the Lakewood Park Master Plan. A splash pad is envisioned for that area, and based on reactions that I have witnessed so far, there is no doubt that such a facility will be well used, well loved and well appreciated. Splash pads are a good choice for municipalities, as they offer low maintenance, minimal staffing requirements, and provide a place to visit free-of-charge for residents to quickly and easily enjoy in the summertime heat. I will admit to some bias on this issue; I could have absolutely used it myself last Sunday when I visited the residents of Lesperance Road and it felt like we were destined to break heat records outside.
Tecumseh has performed well in selecting its projects over the year. I am absolutely delighted every time that I am near Town Hall at the Skate Park, for example, and seeing the enjoyment intertwined with community care and concern for the facility. Popular, well-used, and well-respected by users, it was a terrific investment to make. There is absolutely a demand for providing these activities and attributes that families will consider when looking for their future home.
This remains an area that I stand to be informed on, however. I would very much like to hear of your thoughts with respect to the kinds of recreation facilities that you would like to support in-town.