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Council to Debate $118.5 Million Spending Spree
April 6, 2009 - Austin Wright

Chatham-Kent council will debate a report tonight from municipal administration outlining a wish list of some $118.5 million in federal stimulus spending. Near the top of this list is a proposal to build a new Convention Centre and twinned arena, worth $35 million.

Council is being asked to authorize administration to forward the priority list of infrastructure projects to the Harper government. In another apparent disadvantage of amalgamation, Chatham-Kent does not qualify for the "Communities Component" of the Building Canada Fund, since our official population exceeds 100,000.

Criteria for approving the projects has not yet been provided by the federal government. The Bothwell sewer project and the Bloomfield bridge over the Thames were not included because administration thinks they won't comply when the rules are announced later this month.

The Canada Building Fund is a 7-year national infrastructure fund totalling $8.8 billion. It's designed to replace CSIF and COMRIF. All funding is to be cost-shared with the municipal and provincial governments, so local tax dollars will have to be spent to take advantage of matching stimulus funds. A minimum expenditure of $30 million is required to qualify.

When the possibility of stimulus funds was first mentioned in January, the London Free Press quoted general manager of infrastructure and engineering for Chatham-Kent Leo Denys as saying, “Some of the ideas are really out in left field.” Local media seemed to miss the quote. It went on to state:

To answer the federal request, the Chatham-Kent list includes just about every project municipal officials can dream up.

“We won’t have a problem reaching that ($30-million) threshold,” Denys said.

At most, Chatham-Kent’s projects would total about $60 million, he said.

Top priority in the list's ranking has been given to bridges and downtown revitalization, followed by road upgrades and a Convention Centre/Twin Pad Arena. The list includes:

  • Trees, benches, street furniture, beautification, signage, lighting, public art, receptacles, bicycle racks and waterfront improvements in various Chatham-Kent communities

  • Road, sidewalk and hydro improvements in Tilbury, plus downtown improvements

  • Curbs and sidewalks in Wallaceburg, and downtown improvements

  • Chatham projects include infrastructure reconstruction, Tecumseh Park attractions, $13.5 million Cultural Centre expansion, Farmer's Market creation, Civic Centre patio infrastructure for events, waterfront development, $1 million support for start-up businesses, and wireless communication for the downtown

  • Chatham-Kent Convention Centre and Twin Pad Arena: a 3,000 seat arena twinned with a 475 seat arena, three lane walking track, community hall of 33,600 sq. ft. for exhibits, two kitchens, four bars, meeting rooms, and AV equipment, totalling $35 million

  • Library expansions in Blenheim, Chatham, Dresden, Ridgetown and Tilbury

  • $20 million towards a Tecumseh Parkway including Archways, paving, cycling lane, pull-off areas, interpretive panels, cemetery restoration, Battle Site interpretive centre, marketing, signage, and a Thames River Interpretive Centre at Jeanette's Creek

The complete report may be downloaded from the municipal website at


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