Mountainview Site – A series of unfortunate events………

It seems many of you are as disgusted with what we have ended up with on the old Mountainview site as I am. So I will expand on my blog from Monday and give you a look at what might have been and explain what led us to where we are today.

Firstly, I would like to show you what might have been. The following is an artist’s rendering of what we could have had on the corner of Hurontario and Huron St. The Globe Hotel which was built-in 1865 was designed by renowned Collingwood architect Fred T. Hodgson. It actually faced Hurontario St and was one of Collingwood’s first permanent structures.


Just for fun let’s compare this to what we ended up with.


The Globe actually sat completely intact behind the tacky stucco of the Mountainview, much of the original architectural components were still in place and could have been easily saved. The following is an article from the EB explaining the original ACO proposal:

Steve Redmond and his team from the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario Collingwood Branch made a detailed presentation to council when acting CAO Ed Houghton was in place. This proposal would have allowed the town to widen Highway 26 to 5 lanes and also preserved what you see above on Hurontario St. The idea was to have a cafe/restaurant on the main floor and a museum celebrating this towns ship building past on the upper floors. Imagine that, being able to sit in a restaurant and look out over Collingwood harbour. Unfortunately the backroom deals had already been put in place and this proposal was never even discussed or given any serious thought by the previous council.

Series of unfortunate events:

2004 – Local Developer Larry Dunn buys the Mountainview Hotel and continues to operate it as a bar and hotel until 2009.

May 2009 – The Mountainview serves its last customer as the local fire department and Simcoe County Health Unit condemn the building. Numerous fire safety issues and the presence of mold.

August 2009 – Larry Dunn looks into provincial and Simcoe County funding options to remediate the Mountainview into a subsidized housing. Nothing materializes from this

June 2012 – Town buys 6 meter wide strip of land on Huron St from Larry Dunn for $610,000 to enable widening Highway 26.

July 2012 – ACO issues a media release and does a presentation to town council, on how to save the Globe Hotel. They were apparently unaware that the backroom deals had already been done.

August 2012 – Local Developer Steve Assaff buys L shaped piece of land stretching from Mountainview site to waterfront from Fram-Stokker for $1.165 million. This is parking lot for Rexall and Bank of Montreal land. This is now the first impression visitors get of our Collingwood waterfront when they arrive by boat.

October 2012 – Steve Assaff closes on a deal to purchase the the balance of the land from Larry Dunn. This deal is struck up between all parties involved including the Town of Collingwood which ends up paying to demolish the Mountainview.

November 2012 – Town pays Kostick Demolition $340,000 to demolish the Mountainview including the 150 year old Globe Hotel portion.

May 2013 – VFAN publishes an alternate view of how our waterfront could be here:

December 2013 – At a public meeting at town hall, numerous residents plead with council to hold off on any development of the Mountainview site until after the towns strategic plan is in place. These calls fall on deaf ears. Also no official site plan was available at public meeting.

May 2014 – Council approves tender for road widening. Still no site plan available.

May 2014 – Council unanimously approves current site plan agreement for the site.

July 2014 – Steve Assaff breaks ground on Mountainview Development. All his pals on the voting block plus Mike Edwards are present at the ground breaking photo-op. Steve Assaff is quoted: “I’m looking forward to putting something on the corner that will make it a great gateway to the waterfront.”

May 2015 – Rexall Pharmacy and Bank of Montreal move into new locations. Many members of the public suddenly realize what has been done to Collingwood’s downtown and waterfront.

Over the years when our mayor and other politicians have been challenged about preserving some of our towns heritage and pushing development in a certain direction, the pat answer has been “It’s private land what can we do?” Take a look at the above timeline, I suggest our last council not only allowed this blight to happen to our downtown, but actively enabled it.


12 thoughts on “Mountainview Site – A series of unfortunate events………

  1. Not to keep harping about these buildings or specifically their occupants, but I’ve noticed that they don’t have entrances off Huron Street. The Rexall that also faces Hurontario Street doesn’t have an entrance on that side either. I thought Collingwood was a “walkable community”? These buildings are designed for “the car” in that the entrances are off the parking lots. One wonders how the design made it past the Site Development Committee?

  2. It’s a real shame there is no legacy of the ship building past in Collingwood (including the Globe Hotel….I didn’t realize what was hidden behind that stucco). I recall travelling to Blue Mountain not that long ago and while driving through town it was almost immediately apparent it was ship building town, even after the yard had closed. Now, there isn’t a lick of evidence of that history aside from a poorly planned and incomplete development called “The Ship Yards” that looks more like Port Credit in Mississauga…..I wonder why?!. Just this morning in fact, as I was driving to work, west on Huron St./Hwy 26 past Sobey’s, I noticed the “Now Entering Collingwood’s Heritage District” sign and all I could do is laugh at the irony of that sign placement because the view was limited to the stalled Fram Shipyard Development, a Rexall Pharmacy and a new bank, all of which wouldn’t look out of place in any cookie-cutter suburb in the GTA. Now I know it’s not reasonable to think that everything can be preserved, but with some creativity, I’ve got to think something could have been left behind, but as seems to be the case in this town, amateur- know-it-all politicians thought they were smarter than professional planners and architects and look at what it got us.

  3. The reality is that focusing FIRST on the residents is the best strategy for supporting tourism. Over and over again towns are misleading their citizens with the “need” for catering to the visitors.
    They visit because of what you have!!!
    Do some research, and demand time in front of council… Take control of the discussion… Some ideas:
    Place making
    Blue Zones
    National Main streets

    It’s your community. Build what YOU WANT!

  4. To D’s comment. I am not a local, so I guess you are referring to people like me and weekenders as “the tourists”. Well you would be wrong, this is very sad for locals and visitors to Collingwood alike. I just found this article from last July.

    How could Collingwood’s city Council let this happen?

    BS quote from the developer about a “heritage theme”
    “The corporate people from BMO and Rexall have certainly bought in to the heritage theme of the building, because it’s obviously not their standard colours… they agreed to the red brick and stone facades rather than their normal corporate look because of the importance of the heritage district,” said Assaff. “It’s very exciting to add this development to our downtown on this high-profile corner.”

    You have all been bamboozled.

    • With the debt load that the town of CW seems to think it is ok to carry on the population’s tax base, it will not be too long before only the very rich will be able to afford living in Collingwood.

  5. welcome to what the town council has always catered to and that is the tourists ,never mind the people who have lived here there entire life…

  6. Challenge will be many of the local doctors are moving into the building and people need to go to them

  7. Maybe a boycott of these business that are changing the face of our landscape in a direction we don’t want it to go might send a message. I personally only frequent the smallest pharmacy on our main street, which looks like it is family owned. Make a statement with your dollars and support the businesses where the owner resides here.

      • Sounds to me like there was ‘no thinking, no planning’ just the same people sitting at the last council table drooling and giving Assoff anything and everything he wanted 😦

    • If you do not support the local businesses in town, all of them, the jobs will dry up causing more hardship and welfare economy in this town. The time to get involved is not after the fact. It is at town council meetings, open meetings and find out what is on the planning board for future development and WHO is really behind it. Volunteer. Find out what is going on. Talk to fellow residents and ASK questions of town council. Put it in writing. Make sure you get an answer.

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