Opinion: Great feedback on drawings, keep it coming

By Mike Williscraft

Considering it is the dead of winter, there’s a lot going on. Not all good things, like community events and such…miss those. Normally this time of year we would be raising the flag on registrations for the annual Grimsby Kinsmen Mini-Putt event.

Nope, not this year.

Much of this week was fielding comments from last week’s roll out of the visioning exercise we did through Grimsby DIA. I say we because, as you may or may not know, I am president of the DIA board of directors in my spare time.

The story that went with the drawings last week was kept to simple nuts and bolts to allow the renderings to speak for themselves. Judging by the responses, they certainly did that.

Some background, which I left for this week, is mainly centred on more administrative matters for any project which unfolds in the downtown.

The board fully recognizes, as many do, what the impact of COVID is. I certainly hear about it every single day. So, there’s that. Then, the community is waiting in anticipation to see how the Century Condo project unfolds. This will be very good for downtown when it is built out, but the process to get there will cause some strife in the core as construction progresses.

Towards the backend of that project, Main Street is scheduled to be torn up in 2023 for sewer and water line upgrades. Put all those in an economic recipe and you need some positive planning to ensure things come out functional and reset for the next century in Grimsby’s history.

It cannot be stressed enough, nothing in that plan is locked in. It is all ideas, pure blue sky stuff, which is part of the reason it was ideal for the DIA to take on the role of peeling off a project like that.

Town councils really cannot do those kinds of things. They are subject to a whole lot of checks and balances on those kinds of projects. For that reason, such visioning would take several months and I bet it would have cost 10 times more – at least. DIA budgeted $3,000 for that work and stuck to that budget.

To date, I am ballparking at about 30 comments received. They have not all been archived for a report yet, but they will be. Somewhat predictably, the only negative comments which have come in focused on town council. Lack of trust, concern over motive and direction, that kind of thing. Once it was explained this was a DIA visioning exercise – the very start of any planning process – all was well and the focus turned to elements of the project, which I encourage you to check out if you missed them.

Go to: wn3.ca.

Click on Past Editions, Feb. 11 edition, then click through to Pages 8-9. Feel free to send any thoughts to me at: mike@wn3.ca

Another key area – and on this I am no expert – but I understand from various Town staff there are various strong possibilities to fund much of any work in the core in a manner which has little impact on the tax levy.

Without getting too deep in the weeds on that – but recognizing appropriate spending on any project is a major factor – park-land-in-lieu funding, COVID revitalized grants and development charges are three potential funding sources for various components.

To get to those a proper study of the downtown needs to be completed to ensure all is done with maximum benefit for both residents and businesses.

This whole exercise was something that gives business operators something to possibly look forward to because there is right next to nothing going on in a positive way these days. What was confusion and desperation seems to have turned to resignation of whatever will be will be – with a shout out to the late Doris Day (que sera sera).

Even with what the climate is, a great example of the potential and business viability which Grimsby possesses is exemplified with what is developing at what were vacant locations.

The former Found consignment shop is being redone as we speak and leases were signed for two other Main Street locations last week. That is pretty cool.

It’s also another example why a proposed rezoning of Main Street in the core would have been a horrible idea. Grimsby has something great, which needs to be preserved in its business core – just like its heritage features.

Proper planning can lead to a great marriage of past and future and that visioning exercise, hopefully, will get the creativity juices flowing.

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