Do you live in Prince Edward County?
Is your address located somewhere within the Prince Edward County Postal Code region?
Then you are local.
It makes no difference if you moved here only 6 months ago, or whether your family is 60 generation-County resident. If you reside within the island border of this beautiful, magnificent country region, then YOU ARE LOCAL.
In recent years, Prince Edward County has been expanding and growing in ways that it has never been able to before. Years ago, if a Bloomfield business wanted to move from one end of town to the other, then someone had an opinion about it and wrote in to the local papers to address their displeasure at such an audacious move. Today we have social media. Today, we have the masses voicing their displeasure about the “invaders” coming in to change the landscape of the County. We have the people making a lot of noise about Main Street businesses taking up precious parking spots to expand their patios. We have people debating the principle behind private versus corporate space. We have every minutiae being dissected and scrutinized because, in some people’s minds, only “true” locals get to have an opinion.
Who gets to decide who a true local is? If you were born in Picton hospital, does that make you a local, because there have been several people born in PECMH but have since moved away. If you moved to the County 40 years ago, 20 years ago, 10 years ago, does that make you a local, or are you still an outsider despite the fact that your taxes still go toward paying for local infrastructure? If you were born here and your family is multi-generational, does that make you a true local? But what happens if you move away, move to another region or country and then return, a little more refined and a little more cultured? Do you STILL get to be called a “local”?
Another blogger recently pointed out that there has been a growing cultural divide between the class of people here in the County, and because of that, decisions should be dictated based on equal opportunity and accessibility. Case in point, the library in Picton Main street offering the VIC Cafe their open spot outside their building for an open-air patio. Some view this as corporate greed monopolizing public space. The questions raised ask the question: Can someone not patronizing the Cafe still sit on the patio and enjoy it’s shade, people can’t afford to patron the Vic Cafe, it’s too expensive. Its a case of the great class-divide. But on the flip side of that argument is the responsible use of public space to greatly maximize potential income sources. When public resources like libraries and schools are losing federal and provincial funding consistently, the library found a creative way to create a partnership with a local business. It’s not like The VIC Cafe is corporate monopoly looking to stomp on the little guy, they are a thriving small business that has seen remarkable success in a spot that has previously seen only moderate success. Kudos to them for making the best use of open space on a congested Main Street.
The Royal Hotel on Picton Main street has been under ridiculous pressure because it has dared to attempt to restore the facade of a beautiful, grande old building. The complaints have ranged from being an inconvenience to a waste of money. But the restoration of this building is not being done on the public’s dime, so no one gets to complain about the waste of money, particularly when it isn’t THE PUBLIC’S money being utilized. It has been unfortunate that some people were inconvenienced during the time when the wall began to sink into the ground, but despite a temporary inconvenience, the end result will be so worth the pain of the few years it took to complete the project.
The Bean Counter and the County Canteen have been under fire because they have taken up sidewalk and/or parking spaces. These small thriving small businesses have done the best they can in a limited amount of space and it has helped to create more employment and encourage more money being spent within the County.
The recent surge in real estate prices have left a bitter taste in people’s mouths, and yes it is increasingly frustrating seeing a lack of low-income housing in the County limits. But the alternative is a crumbling infrastructure due to a lack of population. The recent projects underway for new sub-divisions will increase the housing inventory, which in turn will increase the population in order to increase the tax-base. This new sub-divisions will be hooked into town services which could potentially relieve the burden from the rest of the population who are currently paying astronomical prices for water and sewer services. It will allow for a revitalization or money to the surrounding businesses, which will allow them to stay open longer and hire more staff, encouraging people to be able to live within the County borders. This is one of the answers to one of the problems the County has been crying for. They want more jobs, they want more opportunities; people have been moving into the County and utilizing the potential that others have overlooked for years. They should be congratulated instead of spited. And there are young entrepreneurs who have taken their talents and turned it into a functional source of income. Jubilee and LOHA Farms have beautiful farms that are utilizing every aspect of the land and doing so in an ethical and responsible manner to provide income for their young families, V.R.Suds and Stuff turned a talent for making artisan soaps into a beautiful small business, Interchange Moving has an ethical and honest local moving company, The Cover-Up took a one time hobby and has created an in-demand upholstery business, Kyle Lane has turned a business out of making gorgeous custom designed furniture that has been featured in many different local restaurants and establishments, Westlake Willows and The Picton Harbour Inn are revitalizing parts of the tourism industry that makes this accessible for the everyday man and have affordable options for people wanting to stay in the County, The County T-Shirt Company and Brass Dog have beautiful County designed shirts that add a little bit of style to our region, and the list goes on. There are so many people who have taken a skill or a hobby and turned it into something that contributes to this community. And it doesn’t matter how long they have lived here, they live here NOW and they are LOCAL and they are FANTASTIC!
There is only a divide in this County if we allow there to be one. Instead of complaining and hindering local business, let’s create a movement that supports the people making an investment in our local economy. There is no Us vs Them, because we are ALL Prince Edward County Locals!
There has never been a better time to have a discussion about making this County work for everyone, so let’s come to the table and let’s make this region a welcoming spot for everyone; young or old, rich or poor, long time resident or recent import, business owner or customer, tourist or year-round citizen. This town belongs to all of us.
And if you are passionate about seeing improvements so that lower-income locals can remain in the County, then find people who are like-minded and get involved. For example, there is a current proposal to turn the soon-to-be closed Pinecrest Elementary into an affordable housing complex for seniors. There are solutions to the problems we see, and there are people who have been willing to step up and do the work to try to solve the problems. Their effort should be applauded and congratulated!