• The Stouffville Chamber of Commerce hosted its 2024 Annual Dinner at the Station Creek Golf Club on Thursday, May 9.
  • The 220 guests in attendance included keynote speaker Mayor Iain Lovatt, Chamber Directors and members, local business leaders, MPP Paul Calandra, Councillors, and Town Staff.
  • The event marked the Chamber’s second sold-out success this year.
  • The Mayor’s annual speech covered a range of issues, including housing, local development and planning, employment growth, and new and departing local businesses.
  • Lovatt also touched on a number of important items and upcoming initiatives:
    • The YRDSB’s new French Immersion school on Baker Hill Boulevard broke ground, with opening expected for the 2025-2026 school year.
    • A container-built modular daycare, obtained from a development project in Mississauga, is coming to Weldon Road.
    • The Stouffville Village Small Business Challenge was announced, offering a $50,000 grant to a winning entrepreneur interested in starting a new local business.
    • The Town is in discussions with multiple interested parties to bring a new hotel to Stouffville.

The dinner began with a ceremonial opening from Anishinaabe Traditional Grandmother Kim Wheatley followed by comments from Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Christian Buhagiar. He emphasized the importance of such events and their ability to bring local businesses together and drive greater success.

“As business leaders, you are not alone in Whitchurch-Stouffville,” Buhagiar said. “Providing you with the opportunity to expand your network, your support, your business development, and your collaboration is part of the value of having an active and sustainable Chamber of Commerce.”

In his speech, Mayor Lovatt detailed his and the Town’s efforts throughout 2023, including advocacy for Stouffville’s growing needs with Ontario Ministers at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario Annual Conference. He also mentioned Stouffville’s increased focus on climate-responsive planning, a theme of the 2023 Urban Economy Forum he attended on behalf of the Town.

Crediting the work of Town Staff, Lovatt noted Stouffville’s stable financial health and record $118.3 million 2024 budget. He also thanked Provincial MPP Paul Calandra and Federal MP Helena Jaczek for their efforts in delivering needed Provincial and Federal housing-supportive infrastructure funding.

New information regarding an upcoming container-built modular daycare facility obtained from a development project in Mississauga was provided. The daycare is planned for a site on Weldon Road and is expected to offer 82 new daycare spots. The Town will soon launch a Request for Proposals seeking a not-for-profit operator.

Lovatt also announced the Stouffville Small Business Challenge, a collaboration between the Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor’s office aimed at addressing the growing number of storefront vacancies in Stouffville’s downtown. The winner will receive a year’s worth of rent and $25,000 in startup support, with more details coming soon.

Much of Mayor Lovatt’s speech focused on housing and how the Town is accommodating growth. “If there’s a statement that would summarize the state of the town, it would be: Stouffville is growing,” Lovatt told the crowd. “2023 was truly a season of growth, and 2024 is shaping up to follow in its footsteps.”

Stouffville has a current population of nearly 60,000 and added 6,236 residents between 2021 and 2023. Given current Provincial growth and housing targets, over 100,000 people are expected to call the town home by 2051, with a goal of 6,500 new homes constructed by 2031 expected to be met.

“Housing is a top priority for Council, especially with the passing of our new Official Plan last week,” the Mayor said. “We need to provide more housing, of all types, as quickly as we can, and I believe it’s Council’s responsibility to eliminate whatever barriers there may be to achieving these goals.”

Expressing gratitude for strong relationships and consensus within Stouffville’s Council, Lovatt noted his record of not utilizing Strong Mayor Powers to see local development progress.

“I have been labeled by my critics as one of the most pro-development mayors in the province…I’ve also heard that ‘Lovatt is ruining the town with all these condos,’” he quipped. “[But] let’s be clear here…a majority of Council has approved every single development in our town’s history. We are a team, and we’re a damn good team, if I may say so myself.”

The Mayor proceeded to detail some of the development underway in Stouffville while offering support for the Town’s work regarding additional residential units. He noted that the rate of condo applications being submitted continues to increase, which, in his opinion, “[is] not a bad thing.”

“I am unapologetically focused on creating affordable and attainable housing for our seniors, for our kids, our grandkids, and everyone who wants to live in the most desirable town in York Region,” Lovatt stated.

Chamber President David Elie thanked Mayor Lovatt following his speech and highlighted the Chamber’s work to deliver more events in support of local businesses. “I encourage you to continue to champion the Stouffville Chamber of Commerce,” he told attendees. “Being a part of a community like this, where you can engage and take advantage of such great insight, is truly a gift.”