Waterfront? What Waterfront??

As many of you know, I spend a lot of time perusing the local blogosphere, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and general comment sections of all types of local social media.
There is a common thread and well used comment (complaint) by many of the great unwashed masses of this town. It’s a complaint that seems to be unheard by those we continue to vote into Council. In fact its not just a local complaint. I have had the good fortune to have lived in a few different places around the world so I have accumulated many friends and have family that visit from various places. From these visitor’s I always get asked the same question “Where can we go and have a beer/meal/coffee on the water in Collingwood?” I say “Nowhere unless it’s from a brown paper bag/KFC Bucket/Tim Horton’s cup on a park bench” This is usually greeted with “What?? You’re joking. What’s wrong with this town?” I normally reply “Where do I start…….”

I have never visited, let alone lived in a town that is so disconnected from its waterfront. Especially one that has a history and its very existence is because of its location on the beautiful pristine waters of Georgian Bay.

I have pondered this situation many times since arriving here. I have asked why this situation exists of people that are newcomers like myself and people whose family have been here many generations. I have never received a plausible answer back. My thought is that the folks that lived here prior to the shipyards closing, were so traumatized by that closure, that for many years they couldn’t even look at the waterfront let alone develop it. Blue Mountain reinvented itself, but the small town mice (sorry Chris but it had to be said) that have ran this town ever since, have not looked at the bigger picture. Even now in an election year I have not heard one person, vying for our votes, even broach the subject of our under utilized waterfront, an issue that is so important to many people that live in Collingwood. Those same candidates talk a lot about economic development, I suggest that economic development starts by utilizing one of the greatest assets that this town has to offer, namely its proximity to the waters of Georgian Bay. It all starts when we make Collingwood a place that people want to visit and stay, not just to stop and get groceries or gas on the way too or from the cottage or the Village at Blue. This will not be an easy process. It could start by voting in a new dynamic council that will listen to what you want from your town rather than the special interests of a few. A classic example of this is Assaff’s Mountain View Town Centre development which serves no one other than the needs of Assaff, a multi national bank and a national pharmacy chain. A development by the way that by its intended use and existence, looks away from the waterfront rather than being part of it. Think about it, who cares what you look at when you are going to do your banking or picking up a prescription? This could have been a gateway to a new vibrant waterfront commercial development.

Part of the current Asset Management Plan should include how we best manage one of this towns major (and dwindling) assets – its waterfront.


3 thoughts on “Waterfront? What Waterfront??

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. The water front is at a tipping point, like the down town. I think if nothing is done in the next 4-12 years it will be lost to…well….nothing. I’m not sure e-mailing the current council will do anything. I’ve e-mailed them in the past and only gotten one response…from who I can’t remember. At that point it was so disheartening, I just figured leave it to the next council…hopefully there will be a major change?

    Have any of the running candidates made this a platform? Is there a way for the public to have this addressed in a debate situation with the running parties? It needs desperate attention.

    I don’t mean to hijack your topic but I just a strongly about bike paths in this town. My comment is based off your previous blog about the water front and people staying at the mountain only “stopping town at the Metro” because there’s nothing to see. There is no path/trail for walkers or cyclists from the downtown core to the Mountain. It essentially dies from Mayor Mills and picks up again at the first round about going out to the mountain. I have to admit some self interest here as I live along 19 and my wife would like to ride to work..I’m not a cyclist. I have watched on numerous occasions cyclists forced onto the shoulder of the road by cars or cars have to swerve into oncoming traffic to give cyclists room. I’ve also found people wandering down my cul-de-sac looking for the path that leads them into town. I’m blown away there is no direct connection…and they’re so close to being done.

    Also it seems this city is a draw for cyclists! I know people from Toronto who drive all the way here to ride. On any given Saturday, if you were to sit and watch 19 you would think there is a triathlon in progress for the amount of cycle traffic. It’s obviously a draw to this town. Why not pave the shoulders going out to the mountain? Along 19, 6th and Hurontario all the way out to Poplar or further. Probably one going up the mountain as well but that’s Blue Mountains territory. Sorry to hijack your subject…I think the underlying interest is how does little ol’ me get this topic and the water front in front of the current council and the people running for office to make it a topic for public debate?

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