Stratford’s Official Plan recognizes the transformation of Stratford from a bedroom community emerging into a commercial, light industrial and retail business community involved in food production, food retailing, agricultural equipment supply and services, building supply and services. A multi-faceted service industry base has evolved in many emerging markets including broadcast media and financial services companies.
Stratford adopted general development goals in 2006 with the following mission statement describing a shared vision of the residents of Stratford.
Utilizing an open, participatory approach to local governance, it shall be the MISSION of the Council of The Town of Stratford to foster the long term development of a self-reliant municipality which provides a range of high quality, safe, healthy, stable and affordable residential experiences together with complimentary commercial and municipal services, while protecting the legitimate long term interests of farmers and maintaining the quality of our natural environment.
Shared Vision Assumptions
- First and foremost Stratford is a residential community and primary emphasis must be placed on the protection and enhancement of residential and family values.
- While development and change is inevitable, the quality and character of our existing neighbourhoods must be protected.
- Agricultural activities have a long term role in the Town of Stratford and efforts must be made to maintain their viability and minimize any land use conflicts.
- Affordable tax rates must be maintained.
- Development standards should encourage safety, efficiency, visual appeal and overall sound design principles.
- Public participation and voluntarism should continue to be actively fostered in all aspects of civic activity.
- The needs of youth, seniors and other less advantaged groups should be given high priority.
- Stratford’s strong social and economic ties with its surrounding rural service area should be maintained and enhanced.
- Stratford’s economic base should be encouraged to expand in designated areas in order to provide more jobs and services and a stronger tax base.
- Enhancing the overall health and “spirit” of Stratford residents must be a priority consideration in the development of municipal policies and programs.
- The natural environment should be protected and enhanced.
Stratford’s Shared Economic Vision
During the past decade Stratford has benefited from improved access to the market that has developed in the City of Charlottetown because of the increased capacity of the new Hillsborough River Bridge constructed in 1998. During the last decade, rural decline has been seen in adjacent communities. Future growth in Stratford will most likely occur more as a result of its proximity to Charlottetown.
Stratford has benefited from high growth rates in residential housing, but has not enjoyed the same rate of growth in commercial development. In order to maintain affordable tax rates, Town Council has determined that commercial development must be encouraged and therefore requires a sustainable economic development plan.
The Core Area Plan
In March 2008, Core Area Plan amendments adopted by the Town of Stratford stated that as a minimum requirement, all aspects of the Town Plan and future economic development will conform to at least one aspect of sustainability, and more often than not, individual concepts will conform to multiple aspects of interconnected sustainable development issues.
The Core Area Plan provides guidance on economic planning for Stratford, within the context of a long term plan based on the shared vision; community goals and a strategic economic development plan should be developed to create the economic foundation for the future.
Mission Statement for Economic Development in Stratford
- Stratford’s strong social and economic ties with its surrounding rural service area should be maintained and enhanced to expand Stratford’s role as a regional service centre.
- Economic development will be encouraged in designated areas of the community to provide jobs, services, and tax revenue for the community and residents.
- Family and residential services should be encouraged, this includes an emphasis on increasing recreational opportunities and facilities.
- Agricultural and Horticultural production should be encouraged, this includes more opportunities for growing and marketing food within the community. The sustainable economic development plan should “support the long term viability of farming in the Town”
- Regional agricultural service and supply should be encouraged because of the historic social and economic ties with the surrounding area.
- Public participation and volunteerism will be encouraged because residents want to be involved in future economic development
- Inclusion in future economic development is essential; youths, seniors, and other disadvantaged groups will benefit from future growth.
Sustainable Economic Development Opportunities are those, which present economic growth potential and fulfill existing community needs. In a country-wide survey of municipal services completed for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, results clearly indicated that Canadians are most concerned about road maintenance, affordable housing, clean water, policing, recreational facilities and community safety.
Engines of Growth Within the Island Context
In order to concentrate economic development in the community, Stratford plays an important role within the Island economy, recognizing the strengths of Stratford within the provincial context. The provincial strategy, “Island Prosperity : A Focus For Change” outlines the provincial context and illustrates the successes that are possible in economic development when cluster theory of development is applied to the practical reality of the island economy.
The current economy and business conditions in Prince Edward Island present the context in which sustainable economic development of the local Stratford economy must find its place.
The economic development strategy of the provincial government focuses on three pillars of investment in people, innovation, and economic infrastructure in targeted industrial clusters. The island is shifting from resource industry dependence on commodity prices to unique premium products which require innovative people and new technology. Investment in new industries. This is resulting in development around specific geographic areas of PEI: R and D in Charlottetown, Aerospace in Summerside, Wind Energy in West Prince, Bioscience at UPEI , and IT predominantly in Charlottetown.
Stratford’s Labour Profile
Stratford’s resident population is one of the best educated communities on PEI, educational attainment is very high; 25% of our residents over the age of 15 years have attained a university degree, this compares to 14% for the province as a whole. The residential nature of the community has resulted in a higher than average youth population relative to PEI, and a lower than average senior population. Stratford has a young, vibrant, educated and growing labor force.
Stratford’s population and labor force is a valuable resource for business in the Charlottetown area where in fact 80% of Stratford residents are employed. In addition to the significant attributes of the resident population there is also a pool of workers who regularly commute through Stratford from eastern PEI to employment in the Charlottetown area.
Stratford’s location within the Greater Charlottetown community means that labor is immediately available for business growth. Information on the profile of Stratford relative to other jurisdictions on PEI and to other towns across Canada with similar populations provides insights into the strength of our labour force.
CGI in the CBC News, December 30, 2009
Dunphy elected New Mayor, November 2, 2010
Stratford continues to develop, January 28, 2011