June 2018

162 163 Early European visitors included Samuel de Champlain, who visited in 1613, seeking a short- er trade route to China. Later, French fur traders used the trails along the Petawawa River as part of their trade route. The Hudson Bay Company designated the area as a “strategic location” and established Fort William in 1823 on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. In the late 19th century, the area was surveyed and settled by émigrés from Scotland, Ireland, and later, Germany. Petawa- wa was incorporated as a township in 1865 and although its settlers found the land to be uncooper- ative for farming the timber was valuable and lum- bering created jobs and economic opportunities. The Ottawa River was the early transportation system and means to get the valuable timber of the area to market.With modernization and tech- nological advances came the construction of road systems. This included the two lane Trans-Can- ada Highway which runs from Ottawa through the Town along the original fur-trading route. While the road system is sufficient, based on an economic growth model, it requires significant investment and possible expansion. “Petawawa advocates and will continue to campaign for a four- lane transportation sys- tem. It’s imperative that this happens. So, we’ll continue to lobby and work with our federal and provincial associates to find the funding to make this vision a reality,” notes Mayor Bob Sweet who has held office for Petawawa since 2000. Realizing the potential of the area, the Canadi- an military, in 1905, acquired 22,430 acres of land from local settlers and established the Petawa- PETAWAWA, ONTARIO wa Military Camp, which over time, became CFB Petawawa, then Garrison Petawawa, now home to the 4th Canadian Division Support Group and 2nd Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, making it one of the largest military bases in Canada. Today, Garrison Petawawa is the main economic driver of the region. “It’s a $400 million payroll that is injected into the local economy on an an- nual basis, plus about $100 million in goods and services that flow to the Garrison,” reports Sweet “There are approximately 6,000 soldiers on the base and another 900 civilian employees, which makes it one of the largest employers in Renfrew County. “ The importance of Garrison Petawawa to the town cannot be overstated. Housing stock has increased 12 percent year over year in the past decade thanks to extended service intervals and a desire by the military families to purchase a home within the community. This housing boom is further fueled by neighbouring Canadian Nu- clear Laboratories which is undergoing an ex- pansion and redevelopment of its service model within the Canadian nuclear industry. To meet housing demand, new subdivisions representing roughly 700 more homes within the Petawawa community are planned, and additional lands have been identified as designated growth areas. “Petawawa residents also enjoy the lowest tax rate of any urban community in Renfrew County,” Sweet remarks, and the Town Council has worked diligently to preserve and increase core assets without burdening the residential tax base. This residential growth underscores some commercial and retail service gaps within the community. An Economic Action Strategy recently completed for the Town will help shape priorities and focus on business retention and expansion