Campaign to lure retirees seeks funding boost

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Windsor Star/Grace Macaluso

City and county councils will be asked to contribute a total of $1.2 million over five years to the next phase of a campaign aimed at luring retirees to the region.

Organizers of the Windsor-Essex Active Retirement Community Initiative plan to appear before Windsor and Essex county politicians early in the new year to make their funding request, said Krista Del Gatto, president of WEARCI.

Each council will be asked to kick in $125,000 a year – up from $60,000 annually that was secured for the first phase of the five-year campaign that launched in 2009.

“The more money we have, the more we can do,” said Del Gatto. “Our hands are tied because we can only do so much advertising because we don’t have the funds. The bottom line is we’re not hitting the big cities.”

The marketing initiative, dubbed “WindsorEssex 100 Mile Peninsula,” primarily focused on the Greater Toronto Area, she said. “In the last couple of years, we’ve tapped into the West Coast, and we want to continue that. But that requires advertising dollars.”

The group is also seeking funding from other community and business stakeholders, she added.

Politicians seek “bang for buck”

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said the group’s funding request will be a “tough sell” at a time when the city is trying to deliver another zero-per cent property tax increase.

“I appreciate the service they provide, but we have to be wise to the fact we’re in a world of fiscal constraints. I think it would be a tough sell doubling their budget.”

Tom Bain, Essex County warden and mayor of Lakeshore, said he supports the campaign’s goals but stressed that any new funding request would have to be reviewed by administration.

“I believe it has been successful. We have to look at how successful it’s been,” said Bain. “We’re going to have to re-evalute how much bang for our buck did we get. Now, when you’re asking for double, are we going to get double the value?”

Rino Bortolin, newly elected councillor for Ward 3, said he would like to see funding tied to planning department priorities, such a drawing new residents to Windsor’s core neighbourhoods.

“It makes perfect sense promoting the region’s low cost of living and weather as the sun belt of Canada,” said Bortolin. “I think we could piggy back off the initiative to get more people to move to the city.”

Rejuvenating downtown “is one of the things we can push,” he added.

Of the 1,124 migrating families, 50.9 per cent relocated to Windsor, according to statistics compiled by WEARCI.  Lakeshore was the second most popular destination, followed by Kingsville, Leamington, LaSalle, Amherstburg, Essex, Tecumseh and Pelee Island.  Almost 75 per cent came from other parts of Ontario, followed by Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and Saskatchewan.

Economic impact

Bill Courtney, outgoing president of the WindsorEssex Association of Realtors, said the 100 Mile Peninsula campaign is generating economic benefits to the region.

“The statistics speak for themselves,” he said, citing the more than 1,100 families who’ve moved to the region as a result of the campaign. “The other thing is we have people who have relocated and started businesses. That stimulates the economy. We have an individual who has purchased three or four properties. He’s not retired yet and is renting them out. There’s a spinoff to everything and it’s doing what we want it to do.”

Boomers “most affluent consumers on the planet”

Canadians over the age of 45 will control 72 per cent of Canada’s wealth by 2024. There are more than 15. 3 million boomers across the country. In the GTA, their numbers total about 2.6 million.

Fifty-one per cent of Boomers are considering a warmer climate, 58 per cent are ready to downsize for a smaller home and 53 per cent are intending to sell their home.

Move to Kingsville “dream come true”

Connie and Robert Nelson traded Canada’s northwest corner for its southernmost point when the couple decided to retire in Ruthven — a small community between Leamington and Kingsville.

“We came here for the real estate, the weather and family,” said Connie, who has been running  Appletown Bed and Breakfast since moving from Dawson Creek, B.C., in 2009. “We always wanted to run a bed and breakfast and we thought this would be a good area.”

The couple paid “cash” for a two-storey, five-bedroom home, that also features two kitchens. A similar house would have cost at least double in Dawson Creek, she added. “Because we lived near the oil patch, house prices were going up substantially.”

The pull of family also was a factor, said Connie. “Our parents are getting older. We have brothers and sisters here. We knew we wanted to be in this area.”

Jane and Dave Horne spent five years searching for a smaller community in which to retire before they decided on Kingsville.

“We have a daughter and two grandsons in Lakeshore,” said Jane, who moved to Kingsville earlier this year after spending 15 years in Kitchener-Waterloo. “But the community, itself, was just amazing.”

Kingsville, she said, “is a thriving town,” offering a relatively warmer climate and amenities, such as walking and biking trails. The couple built a new 1,600-square foot, three-bedroom bungalow — a style of housing that is hard to come by in their former city. “We were able to get the house we wanted for the price we wanted. We wouldn’t be able to afford this in Kitchener-Waterloo.”

For more information, visit

– Source: Windsor-Essex Active Retirement Community Initiative


The figures

1,124 families have migrated to Windsor and Essex County since 2009.

$14.6 million in annual retail spending has been generated, with each migrating family accounting for $13,000 in retail spending.

$55.8 million in spinoff spending for professional, legal real estate and appraisal fees, mortgage insurance surveys and other services.

375 direct and indirect jobs based on the assumption that every three residential transactions through the Multiple Listing Service create one job to produce the goods and services purchased by homebuyers.


$276 million in real estate purchased by families age 50-plus new to Windsor-Essex.

Top 10 reasons boomers relocate to Windsor and Essex County

  1. Cost/affordability
  2. Family
  3. Climate
  4. Returning resident
  5. Proximity to border
  6. Lifestyle/slower pace
  7. Lake access
  8. Small town living
  9. Safe
  10. Wineries

While the national average home sale price was $379,000 in 2014, it was $178,710 in Windsor-Essex.