Halton Hills

Small-town living at its best

With a population of about 60,000 and covering 27,000 hectares, the Town of Halton Hills is located in the northwestern end of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Ontario. The primary urban centres are Georgetown and Acton and there are a number of historical hamlets and rural clusters within the town. The town strikes the perfect balance between the easy access to large metropolitan area of the GTA, and direct access to Canadian nature, with the Niagara Escarpment and the Bruce Trail as the core natural features.

In recent years, Halton Hills has become a magnet for logistics and distribution-based businesses due to its strategic location. The town has also attracted residents from neighbouring communities who are seeking an alternative lifestyle and small town atmosphere with the option to easily venture back into the neighbouring urban areas.

The town’s business development takes full advantage of its location, and a significant portion of employment for the town comes through The Halton Hills Premier Gateway Business Park. The park is located at the southern border of the municipality, along Highways 401 and 407. The business park has access to 6 million consumers within a two-hour drive and 125 million North American consumers within a one-day’s drive.

The Canadian Business Journal spoke to Rick Bonnette, Mayor of the Town of Halton Hills; Doug Penrice, Economic Development Officer; and Kathleen Dills, General Manager of the Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce, about the strengths and the lifestyle upside the town brings to those who choose to live in this unique place.

“Besides logistics, our economy is very diversified,” says Mayor Bonnette. “We have advanced manufacturing, food processing and logistics warehousing. We have 2.7 million square feet of developed properties and another 2 million square feet under construction. This makes 2016 our record year for development.”

“We benefit greatly from our proximity to the main markets, and our economic development has been very successful over the past decade because of this premier location,” he continues. “We are in proximity to two international airports – Pearson International and John C. Monro International in Hamilton – so we have been very fortunate to attract some high-quality, new industrial development to our town.”

Taking further advantage of its strategic location, the town also worked on bringing more retail to the area and the result is the Toronto Premium Outlets shopping centre, which also lies at the border of the town, at the 401. It has become one of the busiest shopping locations in Ontario, welcoming shoppers from across the GTA as well as scores of international tourists on their way to explore Niagara Falls and the natural beauty Ontario has to offer.

“This is a spectacular business development that attracts almost 3 million visitors annually,” says Penrice. “We are now working with the owners to upgrade the centre’s parking and they are also planning for future expansion of the retail space.”

The Chamber of Commerce represents about 500 local businesses and it works closely with the town. “Our Economic Development Committee looks at issues our manufacturers or businesses may have and we bring them to the attention of the town and we work collaboratively on solutions,” says Dills. “That being said, the town and the Chamber of Commerce are very closely aligned in our goals.”

While there is over 500 business in town, these are mainly businesses with less than 10 employees, highlighting the entrepreneurial spirit of the town. And the business development is not forgetting the agricultural community, which represents a key thread in the fabric that is Halton Hills.

“We strive to balance between our economic needs and wants against ensuring a high quality of life for our residents,” says Mayor Bonnette. “So we spend a lot of time working collaboratively with our community on projects and we are also planning for a large influx of residents.”

Speaking of the expected influx of new residents, the Town has earmarked 1,000 acres on the south-west corner of the town for a new housing development. It may seem like a bold plan for a small community, but all the signals point to the fact that the Town of Halton Hills has that perfect balance of work and life that many people seek.

“Most of the new residents to the community are looking for an alternative lifestyle to that of our neighbouring communities such as Brampton, Mississauga and Toronto,” says Mayor Bonnette. “They are seeking a small town, friendly atmosphere. To put this into perspective, we are the safest community in Canada, we are rated in the Top 30 in MoneySense magazine as one of the best places to live in Canada, and we were rated as ninth best to raise children.”

The Town of Halton Hills¬ offers spectacular nature sights within the grasp of one of North America’s largest urban areas and is a community that residents take pride in.

www.haltonhills.ca

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