We spoke with Mayor Darrin Canniff to ask him some questions about seniors. Darrin is also a senior himself coming up on 55 this year. He’s looking forward to getting the senior’s discount.
Q. What brought you to Chatham-Kent?
I was born and raised in Chatham-Kent. I left for a few years only to realize I left one of the best places to live. Chatham-Kent has so many things to offer from a great climate and low cost of living. At its core, it’s the people. Chatham-Kent has a friendly and welcoming environment. It’s the lifestyle you can maintain and the great people you get to experience it with.
Q. Where are your favourite places in Chatham-Kent?
I’m hesitant to mention my favourite places. Every community has its unique aspects from restaurants to activities. One challenge I have for myself is to eat at every restaurant. I have almost done it, but I’m still working on it. I recommend doing your own test to experience what Chatham-Kent has to offer.
Q. What do you do to help seniors in our growing community?
Seniors are very important to our community from volunteering aspects to the economy as a whole. To thank seniors and celebrate their achievements, the Mayor’s office, in partnership with the Senior Expo Committee, hosts the Chatham-Kent Senior Expo and Achievement Awards. We feature dozens of seniors each year. Since we started the program, we’ve recognized over 1000 seniors. Aside from the seniors’ awards, we have an Age Friendly Advisory Committee. We are always looking to enhance senior services. Chatham-Kent wants to ensure our seniors are being taken care of in our community.
Q. What are the community resources available to seniors?
There are a ton of different programs out there for seniors to access. We do everything we can for our seniors. There are 11 senior centres all over Chatham-Kent. We have one of the largest seniors’ centre in the province offering hundreds of activities to help seniors. Aside from the seniors’ centres, we have community and home assistance programs, age well programs, and an Age Friendly Advisory Committee.
Q. How do you feel about transportation options for seniors? Do you think there could be more options?
There are always more options we can look into; it’s the price tag and the amount of use we need to consider. We are working hard to get more transportation options for seniors and have more accessible services. Public transportation isn’t nearly used enough. We also don’t want seniors to wait for public transit, especially in the winter conditions. We are looking to move to an on-demand service. Seniors could call in to get dropped off at different locations.
Q. Are there any projects underway seniors should know about?
There is a lot of apartment development going on in Chatham-Kent. We haven’t had a large apartment complex built for the last 25 years. We now have several apartments being built. A lot of units are going to be accessible for seniors. In particular, one unit being developed is Avalon Independent Senior Living. It’s a 51 unit three-story apartment building. All units will be accessible, designed specifically for seniors. We recognize seniors are needing more housing options across Chatham-Kent. Seniors are always on our minds.
Q. What do you want to achieve as mayor?
I want the average person to be proud to live in Chatham-Kent and love the community. I realize we have experienced some negatives in the past, but we are looking forward. Chatham-Kent is growing now year after year. You can see the number of housing units being built at an exponential rate. We have set records for building permits in 2020 and will do the same in 2021. I’ve been proud to see our community come together over the years, especially with The Miracle and The Gift. It makes a big statement. We are a small community doing big things. We want to continue to amplify these programs. Everyone should feel welcome in Chatham-Kent.
Q. What is Chatham-Kent doing to protect seniors during COVID-19?
We have been doing several things in compliance with the recommendations, such as social distancing. Residents in Chatham-Kent have been doing the right things. We are doing everything to keep our seniors safe. Our community has come together to help the senior population. We all understand safety as a whole and we need to continue to come together to fight COVID-19.
Q. What changes have happened in your life since COVID-19?
The biggest change I have faced is the lack of events. Chatham-Kent usually puts on over 200 events that I would try to attend. I love getting out and visiting members of our community but sadly there has been virtually nothing. I look forward to getting back to socializing. My whole family has had to move online and I’m working from home more, like many others. Working from home does have its advantages but it’s always better to meet people face to face.
Q. What changes can Chatham-Kent see as COVID-19 continues?
The way Chatham-Kent does business is going to change. A lot of businesses are going to move online. We have several grants and training programs for businesses to help make the transition to online easier. We need to continue to shop locally in our community with online purchases. There is also going to be an increase of people working from home.
Vaccinations are going to play a big part in fighting COVID. I want to get the vaccine behind us this year so we can get back to normal, although, it will be a new normal. People are going to be more hesitant than before. It’s going to take time.