A Proud Rural Community in Southwestern Ontario
The Vibrant Municipality of Brockton is Unlocking Opportunities for Growth and Community Wellbeing
Located in the friendly and picturesque countryside of Bruce County, the Municipality of Brockton, Ontario, is a community on the rise. With a population that will soon exceed 10,000 and a strong commitment to fostering economic development, Brockton is rich with opportunities for businesses and residents. Formed in 1999 through the amalgamation of the former townships of Brant, Greenock, and Walkerton, the municipality proudly serves as the county seat of Bruce County. While agriculture remains at the heart of its economy, Brockton is diversifying and opening its doors to innovation, industry, and community growth.
Strong Agricultural Roots and Economic Opportunities
Agriculture plays a pivotal role in Brockton, with livestock producers in the municipality generating the highest volume of farm gate receipts in the entire Grey Bruce region. Brockton Mayor and Bruce County Warden, Chris Peabody remarks, “We certainly acknowledge and support our agriculture community. We’re very happy that our largest cattle producer, Schaus Land & Cattle Company Ltd., which is one of the largest in Ontario, is headquartered here in Brockton.” He shares that in the last two years, the company has invested $6 million, noting, “That will set us up for the next 40 years as a leading producer of beef in Ontario. We’re very proud of that family and support them 100%.”
The municipality’s strategic location, just 35 minutes from Bruce Power, the largest nuclear power plant in North America, further bolsters its economic strength. “We also have small scale, advanced manufacturing in our urban hub, the town of Walkerton. We have a very strong diversified economy, and we’re putting in place a number of measures to help this grow. In our business park, we’ve invested a lot of money to ensure that we take advantage of any spin offs from the nuclear supply chain, or the strong agricultural economy that we have,” Peabody says.
Business Park and Infrastructure Development
Brockton has made significant investments in its East Ridge Business Park to ensure future prosperity. Brockton’s Chief Administrative Officer, Sonya Watson, relays. “We have been developing the business park over the past few years. There’s 160 acres of land zoned for a variety of industrial and business park uses. It is centrally located, about two hours from most urban centers and 35 minutes from Bruce Power. So, for any of the suppliers that are working with the nuclear industry, it’s a prime location.” She reports that in 2024, the municipality is advancing a tender for an additional 16 acres of land to be developed, noting, “These will all be fully service lots, with hydro, water, sanitary, natural gas, Internet and a stormwater management pond. We’re working with developers to bring different types of manufacturing businesses to the community. We really want to see businesses that have added employment, to bolster community growth.” To further advance opportunities in the business park, the municipality is working with Mass Magna Investment Inc. whose partners see potential in the region and are looking for build-to-suit opportunities.
Within the business park, Brockton secured a provincial Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) to expedite the process and move ahead on much needed housing. “We’ve had amazing development in that area,” says Watson. “The MZO allowed over 550 units to advance, and some of those are already well underway, including one of three 5-storey, 60-unit apartment buildings, which is currently being built.” The municipality is working with several key developers, including Wilson Development to bring these residential options to the community. Additionally, there are plans to expand the urban boundary and create quality attainable housing, as Brockton recognizes the importance of this in facilitating economic growth and stability.
“In Brockton, our staff is very concerned about this, and committed to the issue,” says Mayor Peabody.
“We’ve had very strong pressures on housing, and a very significant lack of housing for people who want to work in the service, manufacturing or construction industries in our community. We were one of the few small municipalities to apply for the housing accelerator grant, and we’re applying for a whole variety of funding from the federal government. We’re very serious about it.”
Aware that a small rural municipality might not be on the government radar, they have taken a significant step by hiring a lobbyist in Ottawa to advocate for their cause. “We want to make sure that the government knows there’s a housing crisis in rural Ontario too,” Peabody stresses. “We’ve made this a priority. We’re one of the few small municipalities to really try to take advantage of this grant. It’s a complicated process, but we’ve put the time and effort in with our staff because we’re definitely willing to punch above our weight to get housing at the attainable level.”
Collaboration and Innovation
Collaboration is a key driver of Brockton’s success. The municipality actively partners with Bruce County Economic Development, the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation, and the Grey-Bruce Local Immigration Partnership, and is part of the Clean Energy Frontier Initiative promoting nuclear as the path to a net-zero future. These relationships help Brockton leverage regional resources to achieve its goals. Strong partnerships with the downtown business community are another priority in Brockton, and Watson says that annual events along with regular communication are necessary to support this vibrant facet of the economy. “We do feel that we have a very unique downtown within Bruce County. Our business storefronts are full, and people come from all over just to shop in Walkerton because of the uniqueness.”
Community Initiatives and Quality of Life
Brockton offers a wide range of community events to enhance the quality of life of its residents. “We’re a very close knit community with generations of families rooted in this area,” portrays Paulette Peirol, Brockton’s Community Development Coordinator. “In terms of events, a lot of them are organized by community groups, such as our Rotary Club, Optimist Club, Kinsmen and Kinettes, but the municipality also hosts several events each year, both for community spirit and to help businesses in downtown Walkerton.” These annual events include the Walkerton Summer Streetfest, a Christmas Market, and Music in the Park. The community also comes together to support the local hockey team, the Walkerton Capitals.
In downtown Walkerton, the creation of a new Market Garden Park, with the help of federal, provincial and county funding, as well as business and resident support, is a welcome addition for residents and visitors to relax in the outdoors. “We now have a downtown urban space where people can enjoy things like a lunch from one of our restaurants. There’s a stage where we’ve had three musical events, and next year, we’re looking forward to more programming there,” Peirol says.
“Brockton places great importance on its cultural heritage and the promotion of a welcoming and inclusive community,” she adds. A series of plaques in the Market Garden pays tribute to the first Chinese family to settle in Walkerton, operating a business on the property for many years. “Culture is very important to our community,” she asserts, and notes a recent Truth and Reconciliation Event also held in the park.
Brockton is also rich with recreational opportunities, including golf, paddling, fishing, hockey, tennis, baseball and pickleball. The Bruce Power Regional soccer complex is another amenity, and with assistance from an Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) grant, a new concession stand is currently being constructed.
Looking ahead, Watson maintains, “Our community is in the planning stage for the future. We have identified that we need more space to grow. So, we’re planning for that growth.” As part of the ongoing efforts to enhance infrastructure, Brockton is actively seeking further grants to address other key areas, including water and sewer systems, as well as the extensive network of bridges throughout the municipality. Ongoing road resurfacing projects will also continue, following the road study that acts as a guide to maintaining and improving the community’s roadways.
Other infrastructure investments include supporting broadband initiatives including a recent project with EH!tel, to expand access to high-speed fiber internet in Brockton’s rural communities and EPCOR’s multi-million dollar project to advance natural gas to the rural areas in the community.One notable initiative is a $35-million application to the Green Inclusive Community Build Fund for a new single ice pad arena and community center. “Our existing arena is over 50 years old and at the end of its useful life. We will be designing this as more of a cultural hub as well,” she says.
Brockton’s progressive approach positions the municipality for ongoing expansion and new prospects, all while providing its residents with a high quality of life in a beautiful setting. Mayor Peabody highlights, “We are looking forward. We’re really set up for growth, and we’re going to supplement that growth with attainable housing to satisfy workforce needs in the agricultural sector, as well as small scale, advanced manufacturing. We’ve really got a great plan in place infrastructure wise, we’ve got the investors, and we’re going to add the amenities that people want.”
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AT A GLANCE
What: A progressive municipality in Southwestern Ontario
Where: Bruce County, Ontario, Canada
Best Western Plus Walkerton Hotel and Conference Centre – www.bestwestern.com
The Best Western Plus Walkerton Hotel & Conference Centre is located in the central hub of Grey-Bruce County, within minutes of the beautiful beaches of Lake Huron, Bruce Power & Wind Generation Facilities, Hanover Raceway & Casino, Owen Sound, Kincardine and the Saugeen Airport. Free breakfast buffet, wireless/hardwired high-speed internet, business center, local phone calls and guest laundry.