A two-year-old campaign to lure retired couples to the Windsor-Essex area is beginning to bear fruit — $46 million worth. That’s how much in retail sales the 161 families that have relocated have generated. And that’s only the beginning, say those involved in the 100-Mile Peninsula retirement living initiative.
“(It) is just starting to gain some traction,” said Phillip Young, whose son moved to Windsor to attend university before getting married and deciding to put down roots.
“We’d been coming here to visit and fell in love with it. We think others will as well given the opportunity. “We just need to tell the world we are open for business.” Citing low retail prices, a warm climate, golf courses, wineries, lakes, festivals, a casino, proximity to both amateur and professional sports and location, the Windsor Essex Active Retirement Community Initiative is making inroads in establishing the region as a preferred location for the 50-plus retirement demographic.
“Perhaps because we’re newcomers, we see the glass as half-full and not half-empty,” said Young who moved to Lakeshore with wife Frances from Edmonton. “I think we see the potential in what the region has to offer and not just the challenges.” Young has become an active volunteer on behalf of the retirement living initiative, conducting a survey of about 20 per cent of the area’s real estate agents to help determine the number of people who have moved here and what it’s meant in real estate sales.
According to Young’s research, 99 of the 161 new families have moved here from elsewhere in Ontario while 18 have come from British Columbia and another 17 from Alberta.
Windsor has been the largest recipient of these newcomers with 60 followed by Kingsville with 24, Lakeshore with 20, Leamington with 19 and Amherstburg with 15.
“We believe the numbers will be much higher once the survey is complete,” said Guy DiPonio, who is also a volunteer member of the initiative’s board of directors. “It’s one of those initiatives which has traditionally fallen between the cracks of tourism and economic development offices.” Partners in the campaign the Greater Windsor Home Builders Association, the Windsor Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Windsor Essex County Real Estate Board. DiPonio said active retirees, or those over 50, are a growing demographic with 2.2 million living in Ontario alone. Canadians over the age of 50 also control 74 per cent of the country’s wealth, 58 per cent of its consumer spending, have an average net worth of $560,000 and $7 billion in retirement savings. Louise Keller and her husband Dennis started researching retirement alternatives two years before she and husband Dennis made the move. “We spotted Leamington in some articles about retirement living and it kept growing on us.” The Kellers now own a townhome in Leamington which they bought for less than the cost of a building lot in Surrey. “We had some issues initially with Windsor’s proximity to Detroit and its reputation for crime but once we visited, those fears went away,” said Dennis. DiPonio said it’s estimated that families make 4.6 visits before deciding to move and at that point, they are visitors and tourists. “It’s highly lucrative in both areas.” “Once they move, they’re an economic indicator whose spending generates jobs and economic growth.”
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