Aside from the unusual name, and more on that later, have you heard about A Perfect World? Perhaps it should be called A Changing World.
People just love Collingwood and they are moving here in big numbers but the minute they arrive, they want to pull up the drawbridges. We all love what we have at any frozen moment in time but alas, growth is a given and it is always a changing world. Every now and then, a new development comes along that represents a seismic shift in our comfort zone and this latest, proposed new development on Collingwood’s waterfront is one of them.
The project calls for three, six-storey buildings to be built on a parcel of land just north east of the horrid looking Rexall building behind Huron St and Side Launch Way. Here’s a map to orient you.
The new buildings would include 80 luxury residential condos, 40 hotel units, commercial and office space, public walkways and underground parking. If you’d like to see the application filed including detailed drawings, click here. Better still, you can view the developers full presentation to council complete with photos, here.
Like many others, my first reaction was negative. The thought of six-storey buildings at the waterfront was uncomfortable however, I have since changed my mind. A couple of Sundays ago, hubby and I went on an exploratory mission. We started by visiting other six-storey buildings in town (the Galleries, Bayview Terrace) to get a feel of the scale of that size and, to look at the shadowing and other impacts on neighbouring properties. Then we went to the site of the proposed new condos and looked from every angle.
One of the first things we realized is that the one-storey buildings on Huron Street already obliterate any water views. Go stand across from the Bank of Montreal and you’ll see what I mean. The vacant lot beside the bank will already block the view once something is built there so, the argument doesn’t hold water. Secondly, the shadow effects will only impact a limited number of houses to the east and only later in the evenings. While that’s not great, it’s far less of an impact than in other locations in town where big buildings are slated. We looked at traffic – there is already a light at Huron Street and Heritage Way plus there are two roads coming in or out if you include Side Launch Way. Not a big concern there. Then we thought about water and boat access. Right now, the lot is half under water and there is no access for anyone unless they can walk on water. The new development will give access via a promenade and seawall. And then, there is the biggest reason of all: the proposed zoning amendments IMPROVE on what is currently allowed.
As people line up to object to this development, they should realize that all the complaining in the world will not change the fact that the land is already zoned to permit six-storey buildings and with these densities. The current zoning does not require any public access. The current zoning does not require any commercial or public uses. This article speaks to some of the objections and this excellent post by Collingwood Living goes into much greater detail.
The developer behind this plan has proposed amendments which would expand the uses to include all of those things. Isn’t that an improvement over the already approved zoning? If people can get their heads around that, they may look at this differently.
So while I think A Perfect World would be to see that lot developed as parkland with a splash pad, a skating rink, some benches, some food kiosks, maybe a few buskers and frolicking children, I know that’s not going to happen. Instead, we have growth and in my humble opinion, this plan is a good one. Maybe walkways could be wider, some public art could be added and some heritage features incorporated into the uninspired architecture but we can’t get to that stage if we keep fighting the idea of something that is already allowed – six-storeys.
What do you think?