By Mike Williscraft
It was a soups to nuts menu at the inaugural Mayor’s Information Night at Grimsby town hall on Monday night.
The event – which was created when an oversight dismissed the crowd before the Mayor’s Breakfast question and answer period last month – will become an annual event, says Mayor Jeff Jordan.
“We wanted to make sure the public had an opportunity to get in any and all questions. We got a wide range of questions and a great turnout, so we are planning to do this annually,” said Jordan.
“We will also do a councillors night as well.”
With Richard Dunda, a member of the Grimsby Economic Development Advisory Committee, taking on the emcee duties, a lengthy series of questions was put to Jordan, town staff and councillors. Questions were largely submitted via the Town’s website but the session was also open to questions from the floor also.
There were basic topics covered, some humourous to the crowd of about 80 in attendance, while others were major and impactful to the community.
“It is hard to believe it has already been a year since we were sworn in,” said Jordan, in kicking off the proceedings.
A question regarding affordable housing kicked off the evening to which Jordan noted Niagara Region is currently reviewing its policies on this topic and are considering implementing a minimum percentage of affordable housing units in new developments.
“We certainly recognize the need,” said Jordan.
A hot topic for many months has been the Century Condo project proposed for the vacant lot in downtown Grimsby adjacent to the Judge and Jester.
Walter Basic, acting director of planning, provided some clarification to a question about the five-storey design.
Basic noted that building height is defined by its Main Street frontage, which is at four storeys. He noted a fifth storey is created due to the grade of the property down to Doran Avenue, but the building would be considered four storeys in height.
That question led right into another dealing with heritage and preservation of same.
“The heritage of our community is important to all of us. Our strategic priority exercise will help us determine policies which allow for consistent and compatible development,” said Jordan.
He added that there is a public open house for another contentious project, what many know as the Burgess property at Nelles and Main Street East, on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. at town hall.
That project, too, has many residents in that area concerned regarding height and density.
Some levity was brought to the proceedings by one question which asked why it was residents’ responsibility to shovel snow at the end of their lane left by a plow.
While all could relate, Jordan noted, “we live in Canada. We have to shovel snow.”
He made one suggestion for anyone who faces hardship to get snow removed.
“If you see a teenager or know someone in your neighbourhood, just ask for help. I think you would be surprised at how positive a response you would get,” added Jordan.
There were several questions which dealt with traffic issues arising from both parking problems and volume.
Of special note was an announcement by Coun. Dave Kadwell that the Ministry of Transportation has finally committed to enhance driver awareness in the Grimsby “diamond” area – the stops signs in the core coming off the QEW.
Solar flashing red lights will be affixed to the top of all the stop signs at Ontario and Maple Streets as Christie already has traffic lights.
In wrapping up the proceedings, Jordan said he was pleased with the turnout and, given the variety and volume of questions, it was clear such an event was worthwhile.
“This kind of event is a first for Grimsby and we’ll definitely be doing it again. This council is very aware of being open and transparent. We have had a challenging year. We have made some mistakes, but we are willing to admit to those mistake and do better.”