Cornwall - Jan. 24, 2012 - On Monday night, the City of Cornwall’s Waterfront Development Committee made a presentation to Cornwall City Council about the possible development of a condominium project on the Waterfront.
Waterfront Chairperson Lee Cassidy lead a delegation that is asking Council to give the Waterfront Development Committee permission to conduct a public consultation process to secure comments on releasing City lands east of the Civic Complex for private development.
I was fortunate to serve on the City’s Waterfront Development Committee for a period of fourteen years, and was the Chair for my final twelve. One of the last projects I was involved with as a member of the Committee, was the re-write of the current Waterfront Plan.
The Waterfront Plan is the guiding document for the City of Cornwall with respect to waterfront development and it forms part of the City’s Official Plan. The process of creating this revised plan was a lengthy one and consisted of many public consultation meetings.
One of my fondest memories from that process was a suggestion from a young lady named Michelle, who suggested the City should build a splash pad in Lamoureux Park. Her suggestion was added to the Plan and is now a reality. To me, this is proof that the public does have a voice in process.
The Waterfront Plan does envision condos on the waterfront, as it is important to have people living in the area to improve critical mass and to generate tax revenue. The Plan calls for condos to bookend Lamoureux Park with development on the snow dump and oil tank farm lands. Land ownership issues have presented a problem moving these plans forward. Servicing is also an issue for the snow dump site due to the large canal walls.
The next logical site is the proposed location east of the Civic Complex as it is already in the City’s ownership and can be easily serviced. The Committee is suggesting a three to four story project so that the scope of the project is not intrusive on the area. I personally have no issue with their suggestion, as it accomplishes the goals mentioned above and doesn't take away any "park land". I am certain that the Heart of the City, Centretown and the various business owners in the city’s core, would welcome more people living in the area.
As a past Chair, I have never been a supporter of destroying our wonderful waterfront parkland. However, at the same time I believe for the waterfront to grow in its vibrancy and usage, it is important to allow an appropriate level of development in the appropriate locations. The challenge is always to find the right balance.
No doubt there will be members of the public who fall on both sides of this issue. Now is the time for Council to listen to what they have to say, keep the big picture in mind and be prepared to lead on this issue.
I would encourage Councillors, to take a drive to Cobourg, Port Perry or Stratford, Ontario and see the balance they have found between public open space and residential development. Take a drive to Ste. Anne de Bellevue in Quebec and experience the vibrancy of their waterfront. Plenty of places to shop, eat, picnic and yes, live. I am sure there are many other examples of the proper balance between development and open space on a waterfront, but these four communities came to mind.
The key is to find the balance and I don't think this proposal upsets that balance on Cornwall’s waterfront. Let’s hope our elected officials can keep an open mind when exploring the feasibility of this project.