NewsNow E-Edition December 1, 2022

OPINION: Surprise downtown Grimsby, you’re in

Nobody was happier than I when the plug got pulled on Grimsby’s council session Monday night.

This was not due to the cause – a major power outage which affected most of Grimsby east of Christie Street after a wind-blown tree struck a wire.

I’m not full Garfield in that I hate all Mondays. I just hate council Mondays.

This week’s Grimsby session was poised to be another marathon with two if not three significant battles. We got one minor skirmish, a deferral and another topic shelved due to the power outage. Beauty! That capped it at a three-hour night with Committee of the Whole severed and council put off to Dec. 13 entirely.

One of the intriguing aspects of the night was to be a report on the Main Street East Heritage Conservation District Study.

For me, the most interesting part will be hearing staff’s explanation and the G5’s coddling understanding of how and why the downtown core has now been included in the study.

This is very troublesome for anyone downtown – resident, commercial landowner or business operator – because the process is now more than half-baked with consultation and one of two mandatory public meetings having been concluded with no notice to anyone in the core that their area was to be part of the study at all.

I took in the first meeting by Zoom – because Grimsby will be the last bastion to fall when it comes to accountability – since town officials have not returned to in-person meetings even  for the most important topics as yet. During that session I heard downtown was to be included. As someone who lives, works and serves as president of the Downtown Improvement Area board of directors, I had not been aware of this major inclusion.

As a result, no information had been passed onto my board or any member of the DIA. Now, this may not be that big a deal in the end, but it is simply a shining example of how the Town operates these days.

The G5, during the debate (slugfest) which ensued at council  regarding the Main East study, was very concerned about the size of the study area. They wanted it tight and compact keeping a linear line along Main. A lot of their talk centred on expanded area, expanded cost…and they are so cognizant of cost don’tcha know. They need to save those nickels and dimes to pay for their Integrity Commissioner complaints..

So a big part of that discussion and, finally, approval, was given based on a tight scope for the boundaries. So it was pretty funny to read this line in the report:

“For example, the Downtown corridor and Ontario Street were added to the study area as the Train Station (53 Ontario Street) provided the opportunity for advancement and prosperity to the farmers along Main Street East through the shipping and receiving of goods,” the report states.

Well, of course it did.

A train station was the lifeblood of any small town on a rail line. If one is to draw that connection, we had better draw in Moyer’s orchard up on Ridge Road because it would have been connected to train transport at one time.

Now, nobody would confuse the need for proper planning concepts for a main artery into town and a downtown core, but that seems to be the case here. Regardless, it is an issue of no – or lack of – notice, aside the downtown’s inclusion.

I sent an inquiry Monday morning to the director of planning but did not get a response by press time. Not only will the reply be interesting, but it listening to the G5 rationalize their “expert” opinion when it not only contravenes their expressed wishes and a motion approved by council as well as common sense.

The study for downtown is and will be needed, but any downtown core’s planning guidelines and pressures are wholly unique and should be treated as such. If not, you end up with issues like Pelham is facing, but more on that next week.

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