By Devan Mighton – Originally published in the LaSalle Post on July 14, 2017.
(LASALLE, ON) – It is no secret that LaSalle is a wonderful place to raise a family.
Formerly the Township of Sandwich West, LaSalle was founded in 1991 and has surged in size over the decades but has yet to lose its quiet, small town shine.
Boasting over 30,000 residents, LaSalle was recently put on the national radar by MoneySense.ca’s annual community rankings.
The financial help website listed LaSalle as the eighth-best place to live in Ontario and 26th in Canada as a whole.
“[The ranking] validates what we’ve been trying to accomplish, and that is, making LaSalle a healthy, livable community that doesn’t depend on any one thing,” said Mayor Ken Antaya.
“This may sound a little strange, considering how fast we’re growing … when we enter into our town, there’s a calmness to it – it almost feels like you’re home – it’s very welcoming. It is something where people want to put down roots and they want to make sure that they feel confident in their town providing the appropriate services they can feel comfortable with.”
MoneySense’s website ranking results are adjustable, through a series of sliders, to help the viewer prioritize things they are looking for in a potentially new hometown.
LaSalle pulled in top ten numbers in Ontario for income, house affordability, crime rate, and availability of arts and sports.
“People like the pace, it’s a little bit of a slower pace,” said LaSalle Town Councillor Jeff Renaud. “You can escape the gridlock. You’re close to a city that has a good amount of jobs, so people can get in and get out and get back to something a little more peaceful than the hustle and bustle of the city, while at the same time we’ve got a lot of amenities that people want.”
LaSalle is ranked fifth in Ontario and 26th in Canada with a median household income of $103,728, yet is third in affordable housing in the province.
“They like that we’re financially responsible,” said Renaud. “We never tell you that your taxes are going to go down, but we realize that there’s a bigger picture out there.
“We try to keep our tax increases very minimal, yet always have a little growth, so that we can do more or sustain the kind of services that we have.”
“We’ve got a really good administration that’s constantly looking for grants, constantly looking for ways of doing things better, so that we can have the things that people want without having to have the big tax increases you see in some other communities.”
MoneySense also listed LaSalle as the fourth best place in Ontario to raise children.
“I have lived in LaSalle my entire life,” said Town Councillor Crystal Meloche.
“When my husband and I had children there was no question in our minds where we wanted to raise our children.
“LaSalle truly is a wonderful place to call home and I am so thankful that I get to be a part of all the wonderful things happening in our community.”
Meloche, who also works as a realtor, sees LaSalle as a great location to raise children but also the desired place for retirees.
“We are one of the safest towns in Canada, we are prosperous and continue to grow,” she says.
“Our location is great if you want to be close to the city yet still with that small town feel, close to the US border for our families that commute for work and we’ve taken it a step further by introducing transit in our community so that all of our residents can travel to work, school, et cetera.”
With its riverfront view, splendid parks, and numerous trails, LaSalle is also known for its natural beauty.
“Windsor/Essex County is known to have great weather,” said Meloche. “We offer a ton of outdoor activities no matter what age.”
“Our trails are probably one of the greatest assets we have,” added Renaud. “People are constantly saying, ‘You know what? I came down to LaSalle so I could take a stroll on these trails and see a little wildlife’.”
Antaya feels that it is the little things that make LaSalle special.
“We sort of strive at doing the simple things really good – that’s all that people really want,” he explained. “They want to make sure that – when I wake up in the morning after a snowstorm, my roads are going to be clear, when I get home from work my garbage is going to be picked up, and I’m going to see a police car drive by my house every now and then, and I know emergency services are just a little ways away and that they’re properly trained.”
Of 417 communities examined by MoneySense, LaSalle is the highest ranked in the Windsor/Essex County region. Tecumseh placed 67th, Lakeshore 130th, Essex 205th, and Kingsville 317th.
Windsor and Leamington experienced massive drop-offs in the rankings, with Windsor falling from 156th to 344th in one year, and Leamington bottoming out at 358th from 157th in the same time frame.
Despite the compliment from MoneySense, Mayor Antaya feels that there is still plenty of work to do.
“You’ll see at our council meetings, we don’t have a lot of people showing up complaining about what’s going on, and my phone isn’t ringing off the hook saying you’re doing things wrong,” said Antaya.
“There are times that certain issues surface that people are vocal about, but for the most part, I think they’re pretty happy with the way things are in the town and they’re happy with the progress … we’re never perfect, so we keep on working at it and I think we’re humble enough to realize that anything that comes out is fleeting.
“They’re telling us right now that we’re the 26th best place to live in Canada, well that’s nice, but there’s still 25 people ahead of us and we still have improvements to make.”