I have to agree that Collingwood’s waterfront is a disappointment. In most communities lakes with the waterfront is the ‘jewel’ of the community – not so in Collingwood. Of course some of the historical decisions that were made many years ago by previous Collingwood Council are part of the reason. Many years ago Collingwood Council sold all the land up to about Beech Street to the Collingwood Shipyards to allow them to create a dry dock that was said to be needed to save the shipyard – selling price (rather than a lease agreement) $1! Well we are know where that ended up and the profit CSL made on selling that same land to a company that told us they were going to make this property the jewel of our town and showed us what they had done in Port Credit. We all know where that has ended up. At the very least this company should be required to remediate the rest of the property that looks like a wasteland. I’m sure those who bought the units they did complete would agree. You are not likely to entice a restaurant establishment to the area until the rest of the area is remediated.
We also have the issue of the sale of the grain elevator that seems to be stalled and the rejuvenation of Sunset Point which appears to be going forward as planned despite neighbour objections to the loss of green space for paving for bike trails. The Environment Park which is well used is in a sad state of disrepair as well and needs a substantial face lift. We are also one the few communities that does not have even one splash pad as a feature for young children.
It is almost a motherhood statement to agree with that observation, but it is true, and in my travels around the community recently I hear more and more people commenting on it – not only as residents, but as feedback from their house guests and visitors– “What do you mean there is no place to eat by the waterfront?”. I have been speaking to boaters who live in Collingwood and have to keep their boats in Thornbury or Meaford, because of the severe lack of facilities in town.
The last Waterfront Master Plan Study was done in 1991 – long before The Shipyards project was envisioned. We as a community have been talking about undertaking a new Waterfront Master Plan for at least the last two years. In my view, this should be one of the highest priorities for the incoming Council, and should be initiated as soon as possible. It is really unfortunate that the Town authorized (and paid for!) the demolition of the Mountainview and historic Globe Hotels and approved a new commercial development (including a significant non-retail component), even before a Waterfront Master Plan was in place.
The Waterfront Master Plan Study would include extensive public participation and would ultimately delineate the vision. I would like to see at least a cost-benefit analysis of the notion of purchasing the undeveloped portion of the Shipyards with a view to remediating and parceling off to the advantage of the Town. We could explore private sector partnerships to facilitate the development of amenities that bring residents and visitors to the waterfront – a commercial marina that serves the public with full-time and transient docking, retail and food services and other recreation amenities. The marina could be a fairly significant revenue generator for the town – according to the Collingwood Municipal Marina Coalition, as much as $32,000 per year per 22-slip finger dock. In the past, there have been revenue-generating proposals for the Terminals as well, that have gone nowhere. I would like to see the Terminals incorporated positively into the final Waterfront Master Plan.
I believe that it is possible to create a vibrant, active waterfront district right in the heart of the Town. I believe that this goal is in reach, if we have the political will to make it happen.
The waterfront is definitely key to our future in Collingwood. Our Town is not a destination currently except for several special events, but rather a great community sandwiched between several fantastic destinations – the finest skiing in Ontario, the natural wonders of Scenic Caves and the scenery from the Mountain and the longest freshwater beach in the world.
Statistics told us as recently as my last term served on Council that 74% of traffic travelling on First Street did not stop.
However, It will take more than a restaurant or beverage place overlooking the water …. it will take a significant investment in infrastructure to include water and sewer capabilities for washrooms and showers and proper docking facilities to attract boaters to come, stay and check out our Town. That is a seasonal opportunity. In my opinion the waterfront will also require a well suited private public partnership to find a compatible four season use for the grain elevators, perhaps in combination with another seasonal experience to Lighthouse Island.
Sunset Point is well used by visitors and residents alike and the maintenance of that asset should be included in our capital asset management plan. The waterfront trails and vistas are wonderful and the Rotary’s work by the canteen has added to this incredible experience.
So, in summary – yes, a lot more thought and investment needs to happen in regard to the waterfront.