Be cautious on proceeding with sale of waterfront land: planner
COLLINGWOOD — A long-time municipal planner says council needs to go to the public before it decides on a future for the grain terminals.
Donald May’s request to council preceded a decision to defer discussion on whether to keep the yacht club basin on the sale block along with the grain terminals.
The grain terminals have been considered surplus since 2008, but it was only within the last two years the town aggressively started marketing the property and negotiating with a potential buyer. In January, presumably at the behest of the potential buyer — who has never been publicly revealed — the council declared the yacht club basin as surplus property.
Two weeks ago, the prospective buyer yanked their offer for the property, sending the process back to square one.
May stood as a deputation to council, telling municipal politicians they have an opportunity to incorporate the property in the greater master plan for the harbour which is now in an embryonic state of development — rather than turn around and just put it back on the market.
“Council has to deliberate on the planning up front rather than after the fact (after the property has been sold),” said May, a planner who worked with the Town of Wasaga Beach on the strategic vision for Beach Areas 1 & 2, adding the town could quickly lose control of the future of the building should it be sold to speculators.
May also emphasized that the harbour master plan needs to be concluded, with significant opportunity for public input, before any land is offered for sale.
Councillor Ian Chadwick — noting he had met with May last week with Deputy-mayor Rick Lloyd and Councillor Kevin Lloyd — noted his notice of motion presented two weeks ago had been reworded to reflect the conversation he had with the May.
As part of his presentation, May also noted their should be more public input into the adaptive reuse of the building, built in the late 1920s, and purchased by the town in 1997.
Councillors will be holding a strategic planning session in early December, as they map out a direction going into their final budget deliberations of their term. The discussion on whether the yacht club basin remains a declared surplus property will likely be debated then, while Chadwick’s motion on the grain terminals will push that debate to either the strategic planning session, or the 2014 budget deliberations.
Deputy-mayor Lloyd, noting the basin is a “jewel,” indicated he did not support selling the water lot.
“Someone is really going to have to convince me in the future (as to the need to) sel this piece of parkland," he said.
In other news from Monday night’s council meeting:
• The town will cover the $4,000 costs of a spay/neuter program through the Georgian Triangle Humane Society.
The project is expected to not only help reduce the feral cat population in town, but also encourage responsible pet ownership.
The proposed program would help assist members of the public who would like to spay or neuter their cats but because of financial reasons cannot afford to do so. The Humane Society would be responsible for the overall operation and administration of the program.
• The town offices will be closed on Dec. 27; in a report to council, it was noted that public traffic into town hall on the only ‘non-holiday’ day between Christmas and the weekend would likely be minimal, and many other municipalities follow a similar practice.
Municipal employees will take the day as either a vacation day, an in-lieu day, or will come into work — though the town hall will be closed to the public.
Essential services such as public works and fire will operate as normal.