Embracing Growth and Sustainability, Clarence
A picture of a thriving Municipality with a Rich History, Vibrant Culture, and a Promising Future.
Clarence-Rockland is a charming community in Eastern Ontario, strategically located along the banks of the Ottawa River, under the towering Pines of the Larose Forest. Originating as a lumber town over 140 years ago, this modern municipality of 25,000 residents has an exceptional quality of life and diverse business opportunities. Celebrating its Franco-Ontarian heritage, Clarence-Rockland is committed to showcasing its diversity, while continuing to uphold its reputation as a friendly and welcoming community.
History and Evolution
Clarence-Rockland Mayor, Mario Zandt shares, “Back in the 1800s this was a logging town. A man named Mr. Edwards owned the mill down by the river, and he essentially had a monopoly on pretty much everything around here.”
The city of today was born out of the amalgamation of the Town of Rockland and Clarence Township in 1998 and includes the communities of Bourget, Cheney, Clarence, Clarence Creek, Hammond, Rockland, and Saint-Pascal-Baylon. Zandt continues, “We are one of the largest Francophone areas left in Ontario. We’re very proud of that. We put up Franco-Ontarian flags everywhere we go. It’s not to keep anybody out, it’s that we are very, very proud of our heritage. To be Franco Ontarian is something that is very near and dear to people’s hearts.”
Infrastructure and Innovation
Mayor Zandt emphasizes the importance of public-private partnerships in responsible municipal growth, noting, “The days of the taxpayer carrying the burden 100% of the time is over, there is no way that any municipality can survive by doing that anymore. So, the private-public partnerships that we have going on right now are incredibly important to make sure that our municipality grows in a vibrant and responsible way.”
He shares the example of a retired train station in the Bourget community, which was sold to the city for $1 in 2014, under the stipulation that it be developed into something useful. “And we know that the second that a municipality wants to do anything infrastructure-related, the cost goes up tenfold,” relays Zandt.
“What we did is, we have a private partnership now with a company that is going to invest close to $1.5 million in renovating the train station to its original state, but they also threw in a couple of things like little restaurants and little bistros, to make a little bit of a downtown core, linked and anchored to that train station, which I think is incredible.”
The same partners are involved in another public-private partnership, a project to open Score Tennis Academy in the community, bringing 12 pickleball courts and 6 indoor tennis courts.
“Through these kinds of partnerships, we’re able to look at options,” Zandt admits. “And that’s the biggest opportunity that a municipality has. How can we lower the pressure on the taxpayers and go and get something that actually makes sense for everybody, but that they don’t have to always pay for.”
Additionally, Clarence-Rockland is redeveloping the waterfront, with a vision that encompasses seven kilometers of trails, an outdoor auditorium, restaurants, and a bigger, more accessible location for the marina.
“We’re really putting a lot of emphasis on making this a brighter, healthier, more exciting place to live,” Zandt maintains. “But we also know that a municipality is never done. It’s never finished. We can make a strategic plan for the next four years, but tomorrow, depending on who moves in and who moves out of the municipality, the focus can change. New Canadians, new people moving to the community bring different aspects and different requirements of what they would want and need in their community.”
Economic Development and Partnerships
Clarence-Rockland is actively seeking investment, embracing economic development while ensuring existing businesses thrive. The mayor says supporting anchor industries such as Potvin, a major builder, and the largest private employer in the municipality, is a key focus.
“When it comes to economic development, it’s really important to differentiate between two parts. One is making sure that the city has everything in place to welcome new businesses and industries. But it’s also really important to take care of the businesses that we currently have,” he stresses.
ATG Industries, manufacturers of specified engineering parts, are another valuable contributor to the city’s economic landscape, along with smaller enterprises such as mom-and-pop restaurants. Although currently most of the major industry is happening in Rockland, Zandt highlights that the goal is to bring more to the rural villages.
By making it more feasible for businesses to establish themselves in these areas, the hope is to create additional job opportunities for citizens. He boasts, “We have tons of land, we are one of the most bilingual communities left in the province, and we have very reasonable tax rates. We are open for business and have been for a very long time. It’s just important to be able to make sure that we set things up properly and set the groundwork so that those businesses feel welcome.”
Building Up for a Sustainable Future
One of the key challenges facing Clarence-Rockland is the need for sustainable development. Zandt stresses the importance of building up rather than out, remarking, “We definitely need to find a way to stop cutting down our forests. A lot of citizens don’t understand the benefits of building up, but it is no longer sustainable to grow outwards.”
He elaborates on the visionary plan for the growth of the city, which includes more high-density developments. “I had brought this motion back in 2016 because at the time in Clarence-Rockland a high density was six stories. And I said you need to permit people to build higher,” he recounts.
“So, we will have some builders coming in at some point, I don’t know when I don’t know who, but we will have to include building up to make sure that we do not continue to cut our forests.” He explains the additional benefits to the taxpayer in this type of development, citing reduced costs for road painting, garbage, and snow removal.
“That is all private, but it’s a concentration of tax. When you have a big development that has many streets, and many houses with big backyards, you’re paying for the snow removal, you’re paying for the lighting, you’re paying for the roads, you’re paying for the sweeping, you’re paying for all that. And at the end of the day, it’s not enough.”
Larence-Rockland is also collaborating with the city of Ottawa to address traffic density, which is another challenge in the community. “Right now, one of the major issues for us is the highway that we’re on. We only have one main road that goes into Ottawa, and it is congested. The village of Rockland is set to double in population in the next 10 to 15 years,” Mayor Zandt portrays.
“Right now, we’re meeting with our colleagues in Ottawa. We are working together to have another access because we need to get better prepared for the growth that’s coming.”
A Vision for the Future
Looking to the future, Clarence-Rockland aspires to be a dynamic and inclusive community. Mayor Zandt envisions growth in both population and infrastructure, with a focus on maintaining a small-town feel.
He describes, “Where I see the city in 10 to 15 years, is a vibrant community, for old and young, for businesses. That place where people can come and live and play and eat, and just have a great time. We can maintain that small-town feel, we can keep our sports and everything that we want to do. We just have to have more transport in and out, we have to facilitate the traffic, we have to grow up instead of out, and we have to embrace our green spaces versus cutting them down. And we have to make it welcoming for everyone to come and set up shop here.”
AT A GLANCE
What: A municipality working to embrace growth while maintaining small-town charm
Where: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Landric Homes – https://lavlan.com/
Nestled in serene Clarence-Rockland, the Beaumont community is a haven of modern residential bliss. Offering an array of housing options, this development celebrates diversity in homeownership, catering to varied needs and preferences.
At Beaumont, residents can select from three distinct models of single-family homes with single or double garages, ranging from 1333 to 1794 sq. ft.: the Adela, the Hubert, and the Walter – a charming bungalow. For those seeking additional space or investment potential, the introduction of a new duplex option, the Azur, presents an enticing opportunity. This innovative addition not only accommodates multigenerational living but also opens doors to supplemental income streams through a separate apartment.
Amidst Morris Village’s captivating landscapes, discover enriching experiences. Nature’s beauty beckons outdoor enthusiasts, while the strategic location ensures seamless access to amenities, schools, and recreation, blending convenience with leisure.
Already available are apartments ranging from studios to two bedrooms, further diversifying living choices within this vibrant community. Soon, townhomes will join this array of housing choices, expanding the horizon for prospective homeowners seeking versatile living spaces. Join us in this journey towards a vibrant, community-centered lifestyle, where homes transcend mere structures and evolve into the heart of cherished memories and flourishing lives.
Clarence-Rockland Development Limited Partnership – www.ldc.land
LDC comprises 3 partners – Achile Developmetns, CaricariLee Architects & Skygrid Construction. www.LDC.land The partners have jointly been in business for over 75 years. We are a full-service company involved from the earliest stages of land development to final construction and have a portfolio of projects across asset classes in the GTA and Ottawa.