Opinion: Big week for Grimsby & downtown


By Mike Williscraft

It was an epic week for Grimsby council and the start of something cool for downtown.

It was a Titanic struggle and on life support at times but, finally getting all the players in one room regarding the Century Condo project has paid off.

The meeting went very well despite covering such a complex topic which came fully armed with significant baggage on both sides of the matter. Most if not all that was put aside, a professional meeting ensued and a deal got done.

Sincere congratulations to all involved.

This project will be absolutely massive and it will be the tail that wags the dog in downtown Grimsby.

Downtown just needs to be ready for it.

No more time for whining or complaining. Gabe DeSantis was asked for concessions and he delivered. Good on him.

The key to last Thursday’s special meeting of council was that the members who tend to muck up debates were marginalized considerably since they had already voted to support the previous plan which had insufficient parking, a half-baked plan to deal with the right-of-way through the site and concern around the restaurant use split.

In fact, even while positive negotiations were underway last week, it was noted by a couple of them they wanted the previous one approved.

For that reason, their opinions this night were inconsequential. This proved fortuitous for all.

I won’t go through much of that since I went the extra mile and then some to make sure the community knows exactly how the events of debate unfolded. Yes, you can say it’s too big. Yes, you can say you don’t like its visual impact (which remained to be determined). However, the developer is playing by the rulebook and that is all we can ask. Nobody in this area made up that rulebook, but we have to live by it just the same.

With this project, the major sewer/water upgrade plan by Niagara Region and some consideration for an Ontario Street “renovation” (for lack of a better term) all potentially evolving in the next 3-5 years.

Council was right when they spoke of the importance of Century Condos being a starting point.

This is a time when proper planning can make downtown Grimsby a destination anyone would want to visit. It all starts now.

Conversely, we have Winston Road et al.

Between the Century Condo debate and consideration Monday night about selling off pieces of town-owned land around town – including a parcel on the North Service Road right across from the old Fifth Wheel site – the problems in the Winston Road area got a lot of air time at council.

Monday night, a presentation for the proposed Losani Homes project at Fifth Wheel came up. It was largely considered “premature” by council and was sent back for revisions and more detail on several points to come back in about two months.

My point on that topic – talking the Losani project now – is why stop at 20 storeys. Look at that area now. The land is zoned for 12 storeys, but limiting the Fifth Wheel site to that is a pipe dream given the surroundings.

I say to 30, pump the density BUT maximize the waterfront and parkland WITH ample parking. This does not mean dancing on the guidelines. Let the developer go high enough so he can make enough money to include a parking garage above and/or below ground. With less land used, more would be available for parking and public use.

Yes, there are still traffic issues and other items to be considered but Fifth Wheel is unique. There is no other residential nearby, so one or three towers that Fred Losani and his team want to build won’t have shade impact or other impacts on any residences. Anyone who does buy in there will clearly know what they are getting, so take the wraps off and go.

There is homework to do, for sure, it’s not like Losani should be handed carte blanche, but managing the project to maximize the opportunity could go a long way to help that area. It would be nice to see 200 public parking spaces out there and businesses sure would love it.

Now, just to wrap up, a quick note on the councillor emails from last week. You may wonder why I published those. Simply, people don’t believe me fully when I try to explain to them just how bad council behaves, some of them, anyways.

Printing those emails, in their own words, no edits, provides a glimpse. I regularly hear from people who have questioned councillors about things to be told, “You’re only getting half the story” or some such.

Well, the whole story was right there. Make of it what you will.

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