Middlesex Centre, Ontario

May 30, 2024

Middlesex Centre, Ontario

Rural charm with urban amenities; residents get the best of both worlds

 

With the perfect mix of rural and urban lifestyles, it’s no surprise that this municipality has been steadily growing for years.

Middlesex Centre is a thriving municipality that comprises four growing settlement areas: Arva, Delaware, Komoka-Kilworth, and Ilderton. The hallmark of these communities is the idyllic combination of rural and urban living. Residents enjoy a true sense of community, with easy access to amenities typically associated with a bigger city.

Residents of Middlesex Centre savor a high quality of life in general. They have access to fantastic housing and schools, some of the country’s top-rated hospitals and medical facilities, and above-average incomes. With Western University and Fanshawe College located in the neighboring City of London, it’s not a surprise that Middlesex Centre is home to a highly educated workforce, with more than 77% of the working age population having training or degrees beyond high school.

Recognized by the Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s Most Livable Cities for 2023, Middlesex Centre prides itself on being welcoming to existing residents and newcomers alike. This translates very clearly in its growing population. In fact, Middlesex Centre is one of the fastest-growing municipalities in Southwestern Ontario for a population of its size.

Middlesex Centre Mayor Aina DeViet points out that the municipality has been experiencing substantial growth since before the pandemic, simply because it’s such an attractive place to live. With careful planning and prioritizing balanced growth, the substantial influx of newcomers over the last few years hasn’t overwhelmed the communities.

“Growth has happened in a controlled and managed way,” DeViet tells us. “We were ready for it on many levels.”

Providing amenities that serve current residents while welcoming growth has been a priority for Middlesex Centre. The municipality has focused on improving infrastructure like roads and bridges, expanding its network of sidewalks, trails and parks, and making municipal services more efficient, such as offering building and planning application processes online. It continues to support the roll-out of high speed internet across the municipality. Examples such as this further highlight why Middlesex Centre is a perfect place to call home.

 

Tempting Tenants… and Tourists Too

Middlesex Centre has a lot to offer its residents, but it also has amazing amenities and events that attract visitors from outside the area.

The municipality boasts 19 parks, playgrounds and trails, and is home to Komoka Provincial Park. Within an hour’s drive, residents can explore the Great Lakes with both Lake Huron and Lake Erie nearby. Recreational facilities in the municipality offer physical and cultural programming for all ages, as well as places to gather for social events. The municipality has active 55+ sporting groups, with pickleball being a community favorite. Adult and youth sports in the community include hockey, figure skating, baseball and soccer, among others.

Last year, the municipality held its inaugural Middlesex Centre Day which celebrated its 25th anniversary and kicked off a well-attended series of community movie nights that they plan to continue going forward. The municipality partners with the YMCA, the library and local community organizations to host the long-running and popular Holiday Hoopla. Held at the Komoka Wellness Centre, this event features skating, games, crafts, and of course, a visit from Santa.

They also have a number of active community groups that host annual events. One neighborhood, Poplar Hill, has a beloved annual community picnic that’s now in its 134th year. Another long-running event is the Ilderton Fall Fair, which has been celebrating farming and the agricultural community with residents and out-of-town guests for over 150 years.

As a predominantly rural area, Middlesex Centre boasts fabulous farmland that allows for agricultural tourism. The municipality’s two farmers markets and numerous farm stores serve the best in local produce, foods and crafts to residents and people from surrounding areas.

Events and activities like these and many others are made possible by dedicated community groups and volunteers. There’s a very holistic approach here that combines the efforts of several groups who work together to make the magic happen.

As Mayor DeViet puts it, “There are a lot of people who invest their time in community life in large and small ways, and Middlesex Centre is a better place for them.”

Collaboration is key to the growth of the community and meeting the needs of its residents. Middlesex Centre embraces a tight-knit community feel while offering their residents a lot in terms of recreation and programming, with room for tourism too.

Proper Planning

What has allowed Middlesex Centre to thrive is the council’s ability and dedication to stay on top of the rapid growth.

“We’ve laid the brickwork and the foundation to continue to grow,” explains Michael Di Lullo, Chief Administrative Officer. “We have a number of strategic and master plans in place that allow us to provide a lifestyle that caters to our existing and new residents. And that’s what makes us, I think, a great place to come and live.”

Another plan that Middlesex Centre has in place is its community improvement plan that supports new and existing businesses. This plan was introduced originally in just one settlement (Ilderton) but opened up to the entire municipality in 2021. It offers financial support in different areas depending on the needs of a business, such as working on facade improvements, energy efficiency, or accessibility accommodations. During the pandemic, there was money put aside to help businesses modify to continue to serve their clientele.

In terms of incentives for new businesses, many are in place naturally. Middlesex Centre offers businesses a fantastic strategic location, with quick and easy access to major Canadian highways and the US border, as well as airports and the rail system. It’s quite close to major cities like Toronto and Detroit, which offers great benefits for businesses.

 

It’s Easy Being Green

DeViet and Di Lullo joined our interview from the Komoka Wellness Centre, which opened in 2011 and features a number of sustainable features. The building, which is home to two ice rinks, has roof-top solar panels and uses waste energy from the ice refrigeration plant to heat common areas and hallways and pre-heat water for showers and washrooms.

The sustainability doesn’t end there. The municipality is home to the first Net-Zero Fire Station in Canada – the Coldstream Fire Station. Excess energy from the station’s roof-top solar panels offsets the energy used by the municipal office right next door and then is fed into the provincial power grid. Additionally, Middlesex Centre continues to acquire a “greener” and more efficient fleet and equipment when replacements are needed.

This sustainability effort is something that they’re proud of. Not only are they doing their part for the environment, but they’re also maximizing the use of taxpayer dollars.

Middlesex Centre also partners with outside agencies and organizations to continually improve the sustainability of municipal services. For example, they are a research site for a Toronto Metropolitan University-led study focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater treatment systems.

Continuing to Thrive

In terms of economic development, Middlesex Centre has identified approximately 150 hectares of premium available land along the provincial highway corridor for commercial industrial growth.

When it comes to residential development, while single-detached homes are still being built, different forms of housing are planned to offer more diversity in terms of affordability and accessibility.

Mayor DeViet tells us that there are currently a lot of single-family homes on roomy lots, which is wonderful for much of the population, but not what everyone needs. Middlesex Centre is looking to add more density with apartment complexes, as well as other affordable options like townhomes. This affordability is of importance in today’s economy, as is having the community be a “one-stop-shop” in terms of working and living in the same area.

The municipality also considers all age groups when it comes to housing. They want to ensure a range of housing styles is available so that people in all phases of their life can find a home that suits their needs. For example, Middlesex Centre has seen several recent developments for seniors that are providing homes for those that wish to downsize and stay in the community they love.

Middlesex Centre is, as their slogan says, “in the centre of it all.” As they continue to grow, council and staff are committed to delivering the highest standard in municipal services. Together with residents, community groups and local businesses they are working to build a thriving, progressive and welcoming community that honors its rural roots and embraces its natural spaces.

AT A GLANCE

Middlesex Centre

What: Middlesex Centre is a thriving, progressive and welcoming community with strong ties to its rural roots.

Where: The municipality is located in Southwestern Ontario, to the north and west of the City of London.

Website: https://www.middlesexcentre.ca/

PREFERRED VENDORS

B.M. Ross and Associated Limited Consulting Engineers and Planners – www.bmross.net

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