I asked some of the candidates for the 2014 municipal election for Collingwood Town Council the following question:
The waterfront of Collingwood, in my opinion, is the most underutilized asset that this town has to offer. I have often said that Collingwood is the only town that I have ever seen, that is located on a body of water, where you can’t sit and have a beer/meal/coffee in an establishment overlooking that same body of water. What do you think of this situation? What do you suggest (if anything) can be done to change it?
Your first question is, “What do you think of this situation?”
I think that this unbelievable waste of potential, falls directly on council. Not just this council, but as it is the only one I have followed, it’s the only one I can speak to.
After the Mushroom farm fiasco, a new potential developer came to this current council. If you look at the council agendas, you can see that there were many “in-camera” discussions, regarding a potential deal. I don’t know any details of the potential deal, but I understand it could have been one of the biggest things to ever happen to Collingwood.
At some point in the negotiations, 2 people, one a former town employee, and one a former politician, took it upon themselves to approach the developer, and try to inject themselves into the process, I can only assume that this was in order to make money. The developer complained, and was then interviewed several times by the OPP Anti-Racket Branch (as part of the now 18 month long investigation), and subsequently pulled out of any potential deal as a result of these issues.
Ask any of the sitting 9 council members, “did this developer pull out of the deal, due to concerns after they were interviewed by the OPP?”
Any of the 9 that say no, are lying.
I have spoken at length to the OPP about this issue.
Your second question is, “what do you suggest (if anything) can be done to change it? “
1. Do NOT re-elect any of the 5 member voting block, nor the other 2 councillors who do nothing but enable them. Hopefully, the developer will come back to the table, and with it will come a deal that will finally make our waterfront THE destination on Georgian Bay.
2. Create a committee, that overseas the entire waterfront, from the far east end to the far west end. I think this has been suggested by other candidates as well. The entire waterfront belongs to every resident of Collingwood, and thus every user group in Collingwood. We need to have a system that eliminates competition for usage, and any in-fighting that comes as a result of that.
3. Stop “settling”. We have an incredible waterfront. I don’t think any resident would deny that. The site plan that was passed 2 weeks ago for Sunset Point, is a joke. Forget the $200K+ price tag, but the end result is an accident waiting to happen.
This is no reflection on the people who designed it, as much like everything else in this town, they were likely told what to do, by a council with no expertise in that area.
Some of you may remember Rob Voigt, Marta Proctor and others, putting a lot of public work into the “Sunset Point Survey”, and other public engagements, back in 2013. The purpose of this was to ask you, the users of the park, what you wanted to see there.
Now here we are, one year later. Rob Voigt quit. Marta Proctor quit. I have a 17 page FOI, that I’d be happy to publish (or perhaps give to VFAN to publish), that might show you why their work was pretty much ignored. The authors of what is in the FOI, are Ian Chadwick & Kevin Lloyd.
Now our beautiful Sunset Point, will have a Chipper and a bike path. No updated equipment. No splash pad. No….vision.
Brian Saunderson (Candidate for Deputy Mayor)
The harbour front is Collingwood’s natural multi-use facility and potentially our greatest asset if it is managed and developed properly. Currently the harbour lands is home to the Collingwood Yacht Club, the Collingwood Rowing Club, the Collingwood Dragon Boat and Canoe Club, the Collingwood Sailing School, the local anglers, local and transient boaters as well as countless residents who enjoy the waterfront for walks and other activities. Before any further development is made with resident’s tax dollars, we need to ensure that the proper planning process with full community input is conducted. We will have only one opportunity to develop our waterfront and we need the be sure that we do it once and do it right.
Through my travels with the National Rowing Team in the 1980’s and 1990’s, I have seen many water fronts and Collingwood’s is truly one of the most scenic and unique in the world. As a member of the Harbour front Committee, the former Commodore of the Collingwood Dragon Boat and Canoe Club and a member of the Collingwood Rowing Club, I have been involved in harbour lands issues for the last 10 years and have a keen interest in how the waterfront is developed. The Harbour lands is a critical part of Collingwood’s marine heritage and the Canoe Club’s efforts in orchestrating the donation of the Watts Boathouse to the Town and financing of the move and restoration of the boathouse, has been a wonderful addition to the harbour front. We need to ensure that any future development respects that heritage, recognizes the needs of our recreational user groups and develops the economic opportunities in a responsible and sustainable way.
I think the development of the harbour lands is one of the critical issues facing the next Council and I will be a strong advocate for a full some and comprehensive planning process to chart our immediate and long term vision for a harbour front that will recognize and accommodate the many recreational uses and develop the economic possibilities in a responsible and sustainable way.
Chris Carrier (Candidate for Mayor)
I bike or run along our waterfront several days a week. That being said I often hear similar concerns that the waterfront is not visible to most residents and visitors. The Shipyard (Fram/Slocker) redevelopment has created new access through trails along our water front and that access is from Black Ash Creek to the east side of Sunset Point. I too would enjoy being a patron of some of the commercial development that was included in Shipyard (Fram/Slocker) development approvals and in particular a restaurant. Jet North is the last establishment (now the site of the Courthouse) I recall and it did a brisk business albeit for a short period of time. There certainly was an opportunity this term to discuss with the citizens of Collingwood the opportunity to purchase the former Mountain View Hotel lands for either development of even more public amenity space or to better partner with a private development application process through and RFP (request for proposal) process that could have seen a better return on our investment. An investment in our waterfront that would have been compatible with such documents as Vision 20/20. A lost opportunity can never be found. Fram/Slocker or a new development partner can achieve some of these goals of small scale/boutique like commercial development within the waterfront area of the shipyard site. I would make it a priority to meet with them so that Council and Senior Staff can better understand the options we could take to the public to continue to improve this portion of our waterfront.
The Silver Creek Wetlands should have been fully in public ownership by now. The previous council left office needing the current council to make the final request of an approved OMB Settlement implemented that would have seen almost all those lands in public ownership and safe from ongoing development battles. The failure to follow through is a colossal failure to ultimately protect this Provincially significant wetlands. The protection of these lands would continue to remain a priority for me.
Council’s decision of separating the bike line at Sunset Point Par does not make sense as the information that Council has always understood is that the trails are linear parks and have been engineered to accommodate multiple user groups (bicyclists, rollerblades, walkers, runners). Bike lanes and Trails are not the same, one is an alternate transportation route and the other is a linear park. The 200 plus thousand dollars approved by Council in July 2014 is a waste of precious dollars that could be used towards the development of enhancing/revitalizing Enviro Park and or the creation of Splash Pad for a much needed water play feature along our waterfront.
I took my lead when I was on council in many of these initiatives from our various publicly appointed committees. It is unfortunate that some of those voices will be silenced under the new governance model supported by this current council. It will make some of the waterfront investment decisions more difficult as there will be less of a public driven process for the continued development of our various waterfront infrastructure needs.
Note: Apologies for the length of this post, but our candidates got very wordy on this subject. This might have to be a 3 part post.