A delightful confluence of commerce, community, and charm
Balancing major infrastructure investment and development while preserving its people-centric charm, Tecumseh welcomes a bright future
Tecumseh’s journey towards a vibrant, future-ready town begins with its idyllic location. Tucked away in the southernmost tip of Ontario, where the blue expanse of Lake St. Clair kisses the Canadian coastline, is the bustling and enchanting town of Tecumseh. As the dawn breaks, it casts its gentle glow upon this industrious town that harmoniously blends small-town charm, a thriving business scene, and picturesque natural beauty.
The town, named in honor of the Shawnee leader, radiates an appealing mix of rich history and a promising future, a vibrant town pulsating with energy that matches the ebb and flow of the waters that encircle it. It is a locale that welcomes everyone with open arms, a unique place where everyone is a local the moment they set foot in town.
As Mayor Gary McNamara paints the picture, one can’t help but envision a vibrant kaleidoscope of residential neighborhoods, commercial districts, connected parks, and trails, all underpinned by an ever-expanding industrial sector. His words hint at the humor and pride the locals take in their town as he jests, “The center of the universe starts here.”
While maintaining its quintessential rural character with a robust agricultural landscape, Tecumseh does not rest on its laurels. Instead, it is a town brimming with dynamism and promise, consistently focusing on diversifying and expanding its local economy.
“We have quite a balance between urban and rural,” states Mayor McNamara, reinforcing the town’s unique positioning that couple traditional charm with modern amenities. This balance helps to future-proof Tecumseh, laying a sustainable foundation that ensures the town continues to thrive for generations to come.
Tecumseh’s commitment to offering its residents and visitors a high quality of life shines through its extensive outdoor amenities. Emphasizing the town’s strategic location in southwestern Ontario, Mayor McNamara sheds light on its robust collaboration with the seven municipalities of the County of Essex. Together, they are weaving a network of active transportation trail systems that interconnect their communities, externally linking them while enhancing their internal trail structures.
“Roughly 30 km of trails connect our neighborhoods and adjacent communities,” Mayor McNamara reports. “Just yesterday, we announced an additional 2.5km of trails, courtesy of a grant from the federal government.” This makes three new trail projects for the Town within the space of 5 years. He further elaborates on the town’s commitment to recreation, mentioning the addition of a ten-court pickleball complex and the substantial growth of its membership, now topping over 1,100 members. “We’re soon to add another four courts in the southern part of our community, bringing our total to nearly 20 courts active in the community.”
At the heart of Tecumseh’s recreational pride is Lacasse Park, host to the Tecumseh Thunder and St. Clair College Saints and the future site of the 2024 Canadian national senior men’s baseball championships. As part of its commitment to maintaining and enhancing the town’s sports venues, Lacasse Park is undergoing a significant upgrade. “We’re refurbishing the grandstands and playing area to enhance the experience for both players and fans, keeping in mind the baseball legacy of our community,” reveals Mayor McNamara.
The town’s ambitions extend beyond providing its residents with leisure and recreational facilities. It’s looking to the future, too, with a strong emphasis on reducing its carbon footprint.
“We announced a partnership with the federal government to electrify our transit system with two brand new electric buses,” McNamara discloses. “In June, e-scooters made their debut as part of a pilot project to help folks get around our beautiful trail systems and within the community.”
Tecumseh’s Branding and Marketing Initiatives
Chief Administrative Officer Marg Misek-Evans sheds light on a series of marketing and branding initiatives that Tecumseh is currently executing. Notably, Tecumseh collaborates with an affiliated group consisting of the County of Essex and the City of Windsor known as Tourism Windsor, Essex, and Pelee Island. Together, they release an annual branding brochure that features the various attractions and events in the area, including Tecumseh and all its sister municipalities.
“One of the highlights is our temperate climate,” shares Misek-Evans, emphasizing the region’s enviable position as the southernmost county in Canada, being 800 km south of Vancouver, BC.
Promoting the region’s unique attributes, Misek-Evans points to its expansive 160 km of shoreline, award-winning wine country, low crime rates, and some of the shortest worker commute times in Canada.
“We’re an excellent place to live and work,” she proclaims. Such a claim is backed by a biannual survey of residents that has been conducted since 2014. “Our latest survey in 2023 found that 9 in 10 residents would recommend the town as a place to live, 8 in 10 feel the town is going in the right direction, and a whopping 97% of residents are satisfied with town services,” she reveals.
A key branding initiative on the horizon involves three commercial shopping districts within Tecumseh. Misek-Evans elaborates, “This initiative is intended to help the recovery program and drive traffic to those areas.” Tecumseh’s Main Street, one of these districts, benefits greatly from a community improvement plan, which offers incentives to businesses and property owners for improvements such as facade upgrades and parking expansion. “Our main street plan is paying off with the recent addition of over 300 new residential apartments in this area to support new business attraction and retention. New restaurants, brewery and bars have sprung up to round out this urbanizing complete community,” explains Misek-Evans.
Nurturing Business Growth and Residential Development
Diving deeper into the business sphere, Misek-Evans shares further insights about the town’s nurturing relationship with new businesses, particularly those in the pipeline for 2024. She expands upon the significant role of the Business Improvement Association (BIA) and Invest Windsor-Essex (IWE) in attracting new businesses and developing relationships, as well as the beautification of the district.
“We partner as a town with the BIA and community organizations through event assistance, beautification and business attraction,” she says, through branding, streetscaping, in-kind services and event support, like the August Corn & Music Festival sponsored by the local Optimist Club.
Turning attention to Tecumseh’s industrial focus, Mayor McNamara steps in to share his enthusiastic vision. Echoing his earlier statements, he highlights the global interest in Southwestern Ontario, especially in the wake of Volkswagen establishing a Gigafactory in St. Thomas and the ongoing construction of the LG/Stellantis EV battery plant, called NextStar across the street in neighboring Windsor. “We feel very strongly that economic expansion and diversification is a priority for the town’s industrial areas,” Mayor McNamara states, setting the stage for his detailed exposition.
With an impressive forecast of approximately 3.9 million square feet of new and expanded industrial space mainly in the Oldcastle area, the town’s industrial hub, Tecumseh is primed for massive growth. The Oldcastle community currently has over 350 industrial establishments in machine, tool, die and mold manufacturing, automation and technology. The town’s industrial base includes longstanding food manufacturer, Nortera, as well as extensive primary agriculture production. Municipal water, wastewater services, transportation, and the necessary energy infrastructure to accommodate new growth is available. Further sweetening the deal, the town recently adopted an industrial community improvement plan to incentivize new ventures, particularly in automotive and large-scale manufacturing industries.
Mayor McNamara outlines the primary purpose of the Tecumseh Industrial Community Improvement Plan. “We’re targeting industries that are automotive industries, large scale manufacturing industries,” he elaborated.
He went on to describe the financial incentive programs on offer, which include tax increment equivalent rebate programs, planning and building permit fee rebate programs, and development charges rebate programs. “We’re being aggressive and letting the world know that Tecumseh is open for business,” the mayor declares, reinforcing the town’s commitment to progress.
Tecumseh’s anticipatory leadership is leaving no stone unturned in their infrastructure and development pursuits. Mayor McNamara shares, “Planning and engineering departments are tirelessly working on several specific areas within the municipality to support our anticipated population influx due to new industries and investments.” It is a challenging mission, given the intertwined growth of industry and population in Tecumseh. However, the team is up for it.
Misek-Evans further expands on infrastructure developments, discussing a unique grassroots approach toward enhancing rural broadband. “Our citizen-based rural broadband committee has advocated for better broadband services in our rural areas.” This initiative’s localized efforts amplify the mayor’s similar advocacy at the Western Ontario Wardens Caucus, providing a comprehensive strategy to ensure no part of Tecumseh is left behind.
On the residential front, Misek-Evans shares an ambitious vision to increase Tecumseh’s residential unit supply by approximately 4000 units over the next decade, a good third more than the existing capacity.
“We are primed for diversification, with our development plans including single, semi, and townhomes to mid-rise residential units. To balance it out, we will also have about 400,000ft² of local commercial space, complemented with new parks, trails, and recreational amenities.” These residential developments do not operate in isolation; they synergize with industry expansion, serving the new workforce flocking into the region.
Navigating Tecumseh’s Promising Future
Under the steadfast leadership of Mayor McNamara, Tecumseh is poised to seize a future that seems to accelerate with each passing day. The coming two to five years promise to be an era of intense dynamism for this small yet ambitious town, spurred by significant industrial and residential investments and an anticipated influx of residents. The major focus is ensuring the town’s capacity to deliver on its commitment to progress and sustainability.
“As we keep looking beyond the horizon,” Mayor McNamara asserts, “we must also recognize what is here now: a period of successful, sustainable growth. However, the pace is quickening, so we must have the resources to handle this aggressive approach.” The stakes are high, but Tecumseh is ready to meet them head-on.
Yet amidst this brisk momentum, the community remains at the heart of Tecumseh’s aspirations. The Mayor stresses the need to ensure that current residents continue to feel valued, ensuring that their approval of the town’s services, currently at 97%, is sustained. “We must ensure that as we move forward and bring in the new, we maintain the essence of Tecumseh as a great place to live, work, and play,” he shares.
Indeed, Tecumseh’s charm lies in its ability to evolve while retaining its character affectionately referred to as a ‘people place’.
Mayor McNamara reassures us, “Customer service and attention to detail are fundamental values for us. We intend to persist with these principles.”
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AT A GLANCE
What: Discussion on Tecumseh’s upcoming development projects and vision
Where: Tecumseh, Ontario, Canada