Quietly nestled between Cobourg and Belleville in Ontario, lies Brighton, a small town that sits on the beautiful Bay of Quinte. While the majority of the population is retired, a gradual increase in young families moving there to work at the nearby 8 Wing/CFB Trenton brings a refreshing blend of tradition and new vitality. The picturesque nearby Presqu’ile Provincial Park and the town’s annual Applefest, have increased Brighton’s popularity with tourists as a summer tourist destination for campers, beachgoers and bird enthusiasts – with the town hosting over 250,000 visitors each year.
Land Area, km2
Accommodation and Food Services, Manufacturing, Construction
Cobourg, Trenton, Belleville
While the downtown core may be small, it is at capacity – with hopeful businesses currently on a wait list. The core will be undergoing a downtown revitalization project beginning in the summer of 2014 which will hopefully bring more people and businesses to the already bustling core.
Brighton has dedicated community residents that able to work together and create local solutions to issues that arise. Lorie Boychuk, owner of downtown shop Mrs. B’s Country Candy, is an entrepreneur who opened her store in her 40s with one goal in mind: to hire older workers who typically have trouble finding work. And she’s been extremely successful, doubling the size of her once small shop and expanding into an industrial site which hires four full time and four part time workers. Like many small business owners downtown, Lorie looks for ways to work cooperatively, not competitively with her neighbours.
Brighton’s high school – East Northumberland Secondary School – is another point of pride for its residents. The school hosts a unique Specialist High Skills Major Program that allows students to earn a high school diploma while focusing on careers that match a student’s skills and interests, such as manufacturing, transportation, arts and culture, primary industries, hospitality and tourism and construction.
Yet, like many rural communities across Canada, Brighton faces challenges with their aging population, youth migration and community services. The building of several new residential neighbourhoods has also left some community members feeling a little unsettled, wanting to ensure the town maintains its heritage and doesn’t become too developed – as one council member puts it: “we need to grow in harmony with where we’ve been.” But the lower cost of housing combined with the town’s quaint feel is poising Brighton an increasingly appealing place to live – with more and more urban retirees flocking to the small town to settle down.
Overall, however, Brighton seems to be well positioned for the future. The town’s new economic development office and a city rebrand on the horizon means Brighton will surely continue to grow in a way its community members they want it to – no smoke stacks or big box stores – just a small town continuing to support its small businesses and industries.