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“Great Small Towns of Ontario” book soon to launch

Richard Peddie poses with copy of his new book.

A local businessman who prides himself as a community builder has authored his third book – this one about communities.

Richard Peddie has written “Great Small Towns of Ontario” featuring backgrounds and suggestions for ten towns in the province, including Amherstburg. Other towns Peddie visited are Niagara-on-the-Lake, Cobourg, Goderich, Huntsville, Perth, Port Hope, Elora, Almonte and Picton.

Peddie said when he and his wife Colleen started investing in Amherstburg, they had objectives such as improving the economic, social and cultural aspects of the community. He noted they opened the River Bookshop, hosted Windsor Symphony Orchestra events  and Art Windsor-Essex initiatives, opened other new businesses and “We’re starting to make a difference,” he said. “Then, I thought, ‘what else could we do here?’”

Noting he often likes looking at best practices and copying them, Peddie applied that line of thought to smaller municipalities.

“I thought ‘what are other small towns doing?',” he said. “I took last summer and drove around the province in my car.”

Peddie said he took a “deep dive” into the towns, having had a researcher look into each of the towns selected before he went there. Criteria for him visiting there was they had to have a library and an independent bookshop. In the bulk of the towns, he was able to meet the mayor and chief administrative officer (CAO) and discuss the community and issues local to them.

The book offers not only backgrounds on each community, but suggestions for them, best practices they offer and, much like the CBC television show of the same name, why they are “still standing.”

Regarding the latter, Peddie said many of the towns profiled either lost major industry, survived major storms or encountered other challenges.

“All of them are still standing and quite lovely,” he said.

Other topics featured in “Great Small Towns of Ontario” are about climate change, safe and active streets, placemaking, heritage buildings, the arts, “third places,” and YIMBY’s (Yes, in my backyard) vs. NIMBY’s (Not in my backyard).

On the subject of third places, he said the first place is where you live, the second place is where you work and the third place is where you gather.

On the YIMBY’s vs. NIMBY’s topic, Peddie recalled an Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce address he made in 2019 on the topic, adding he believes he has since become “a lightning rod” for people who have liked changes locally and also for those who don’t.

Creating interest in voting is another topic covered, with Peddie stating he got voter turnout figures in each of the ten towns with the highest being 53 per cent. Amherstburg’s 39 per cent was second lowest. He indicated when the next municipal election comes around in 2026, some of his ideas about Amherstburg could become part of candidates’ platforms or at least topics that could be discussed.

Renowned urbanist and former Toronto mayoral candidate Gil Penelosa wrote the foreword to the book. Penelosa spoke in Amherstburg several years ago.

“Great Small Towns of Ontario” is Peddie’s third book, following more business-themed books “Dream Job” and “21 Leadership Lessons.” The Peddies’ company Black Dog Entertainment helped publish Meg Reiner’s book “Heritage Buildings of Amherstburg” and he worked with now-retired University of Windsor teacher and local publisher Marty Gervais to help launch the recently released “What Time Can’t Touch” poetry book about Amherstburg.

The book is about 160 pages and illustrated throughout, with it costing $29.95. It will be released May 6.

“Great Small Towns of Ontario” book soon to launch

By Ron Giofu


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