Opinion: Grimsby: Is your councillor working for you? Part Two

Dear Editor,

Having given permission to NewsNow to publish my private email of last week to the mayor and council, regarding planning staff’s proposal to hold a PUBLIC Zoom meeting with regards to a submission for the redevelopment of the Casablanca Inn/hotel property on Windward Drive, I should like to respond to the email comments that were also published in NewsNow (Sept. 17), from Councillors Vardy, Ritchie and Vaine.

First and foremost is my belief that a Zoom meeting is hardly the most appropriate way to deal with what will be one of the most complex redevelopment proposals that our historic 230-year-old town will ever recieve. We can and must do better than this.

Unless you have actually looked at the proposal, (available online), you will not be aware that it is a lengthy 174-page submission that threatens to deliver a giant hammer blow with its demands to our determining the future growth suitable for our town.

In the present hotel parking lot, the proposal envisions a 29-storey building which will incorporate the ‘new’ hotel as a feature. The current hotel will then be torn down and a 15-storey building will take its place. Somewhere underground there will be parking for 900-plus cars. “RIGHT!” as “Old Weird Harold” used to say.

Just to remind you, their first attempt consisted of an awkwardly twisted building that was supposed to evoke the waves of the lake, which was soundly rejected in an open public meeting. RIGHT!

It will be virtually impossible to fully appreciate – on a computer monitor any changes from the feedback of the second Open House – as related to the scope and scale of the project – other than to realize that it is still far too large and too dense for the diminutive size of the site.

Instead, such a project is more suitable to the Hamilton/Stoney Creek or St. Catharines high density development areas, or perhaps the vacant Prudhomme’s development site in Lincoln. As previously mentioned at many other development meetings, Grimsby has already done its density duty. Permitting this proposal, as presented, it also becomes “another brick in the wall” blocking off our historic vista of Lake Ontario.

We will surely have to change our Town’s motto of “Friendly by Nature” to “Nature No More,” and remove the pictures of unspoiled Lake Ontario vistas from our brochures and websites, as they will be replaced with a concrete condo jungle.

Take a pair of binoculars down to the Winston Road “Boardwalk” and you can see for yourself what we will become, if you focus across the lake on the Oakville Lake Ontario shoreline – now a massive wall of concrete condos.

This planning proposal, it appears, will also come with a ready made ammendment for council to approve so that the developer can just get on with the job. We all saw how effective that sort of attempt was with Mr. DeSantis’ Main Street proposal.

This is serious stuff. Other residents of our town need to be talking to their councillors and providing feedback on this and any other development proposal that comes forward.

We have an approved Town Plan. We need to be asking:

Why are developers allowed to come into Grimsby and tell us what changes we are going to have to make to that plan – so their dream proposal can come to fruition at our expense – allowing them to walk away with a wheelbarrow full of cash? Niagara-on-the-Lake manages its development, why can’t we?

How did a building site with a 12-storey height limit, (the RoseHaven development), ever get approval for 21-storeys by our planning staff, and what did we (the Town), get for that gift of an extra nine storeys?

Where in all of the recent development – or over development, (Winston Road area), has there ever been any attempt to require ANY provision for geared-to-income units suitable for some of our residents?

An interesting thought might be to request from any new construction that exceeds our Official Plan that the Town request one unit from each floor – the proceeds from which shall be delivered to the Town for the construction of geared-to-income units elsewhere in town. Such a tit-for-tat exchange might cause said developers to give pause to their over ambitious plans.

What transpires with this proposal for 5 Windward will also have a future impact on how we will be able to deal with the looming, larger proposal by Losani for the old truck stop site.

Why is our new planning and development person not tasked with directing their attention to addressing the longstanding lack of commercial and light industrial development that would provide much needed jobs for our unemployed?

Large residential projects are still standing unfilled. Perhaps our growth needs to be slowed down a bit until some infrastructure can be supplied to deal with our present circumstances, especially traffic concerns.

I repeat, this stuff is serious! There are many questions which still need to be asked.

Secondly, I wish to address the responses to my email that were published adjacent to mine.

I want to thank Coun. Vardy for her support of my request. I have appreciated her positive participation on our present council, along with the mayor and Councillors Bothwell and Freake.

As to our former “Defender of all things Grimsby” in the person of Coun. Kadwell, I and many others are mystified by his behaviour. I consider him a friend. As a councillor he certainly knows how to look after issues that a resident – not even from his ward – might bring forward. On many recent issues however, it seems he has inexplicably given up that characteristic role and I really miss that!

As to Coun. Vaine, you have demanded an apology, so here it is. I apologize to the citizens of Grimsby for so actively supporting your run for council; that I was not able to discern the real “you” that we have seen emerging or read about repeatedly in your actions on council post-biodigester.

Where is the “Councillor of Change” that I and others were promised?

While we may be residents of the same geographical ward, you no longer have my support.

PS: I’m still waiting for you to “reach out to me,” councillor. Seems you’re all bluster and blarney. Coun. Kadwell would have already responded. No need to bother now.

Two and a half years ago, I was asked to meet with and help Kevin Ritchie prep for his electoral run for council. I spent one afternoon, with others, grilling him over his reason for running for elected office.

Once again I appear to have been deceived. The eager citizen who came forward pledging to help change the toxic culture of the previous council has morphed into a sad lump and a useless tool in the toolbox.

He often looks as if he wishes he were anywhere else than at the council table, except to pick up his paycheck. Lack of visible effort and constructive contribution outweighs the ‘braying disparragement’ of Coun. Vardy’s support of my suggestion.

In closing, I once again respectively request that the mayor and council ask the proponent to schedule a REAL Open House at the hotel, where the visitors can be safely monitored and we, the citizens, can see for ourselves just what is being brought forward for consideration by council – even if it requires a whole day!

You should all appreciate that we are tired of what goes on behind closed doors.

Sincerely, David Ward

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