Weighing in on the waterfront
Open house for waterfront ideas was well attended
How to improve Cornwall’s waterfront has always been a hot topic issue so it should come as no surprise when the city held an open house on Wednesday which was well attended. Mike Tocher, an organizer of the event from the firm Thinc Design, said it was clear that people care a lot about the waterfront issues because they began arriving to the open house early and there was a steady stream of concerned residents all afternoon.
Tocher said the open house was to present the ideas collected from residents regarding the five major areas of the waterfront, Guindon Park, the canal lands, Lamoureux Park the area from the harbour to the college and the east front area.
“We’ve done a lot of interviews and we met with the public in June and the ideas are still at the gathering stage,” said Tocher. “That is what is listed here, a lot of what we heard. What we are trying to get people to do is to input more detailed comments on these areas.”
Tocher said the salon at the civic complex was divided into the five areas and people were encouraged to visit the stations and express their opinions on some of the proposed ideas.
“We are trying to get people to focus in and give us recommendations,” he said.
Tocher said once all the information has been gathered he will come back to the city in the new year with the recommendations.
“That’s not today,” he added. “That is what we are leading up to. Today is still about ideas. No decisions have been made and everything is still on the table.”
Tocher said during the first round of talks, which were much broader and covered the whole waterfront, a lot of concern was regarding the development of condominiums.
“That’s not the case,” he said. “We are not here to propose development throughout the waterfront and take away green space. However, it is a big waterfront and not all of it is parkland so development might happen.”
Tocher said he didn’t think anyone wanted Cornwall to stay stagnant and some development was good for the city.
“I think the word development when used in Cornwall could mean anything,” he said. “We are trying very much to keeping access, keeping the trail network, but that’s not to say that in the end, we are not going to say if you want to do development, here is where it should go. We have made no decision on that. We can’t rule out things that are loved by the community for the sake of tax dollars.”
Tocher said they have heard loud and clear people are not interested in losing the ball diamonds for development, but there was the possibility of relocating them.
“We’ve heard a lot of people say we’d love to have ball tournaments, but we can’t have them there (at Legion Park),” he said. “Maybe there is another location that makes more sense.”
Tocher said those were the two key concerns, the ball diamonds and development of the waterfront into condos.
Councillor-elect Glen Grant has been on the waterfront committee and he said he thought this was a little like putting the cart before the horse.
“It’s great to put a plan together, but my goal this term is to acquire the waterfront land,” he said. “Then we can decide on all this.”
Grant said the city should be stewards of the land.
“This land is not owned by the federal government or the federal agencies. It’s owned by the people of Canada and as such the federal government is the steward of the land and we could become stewards of the land,” he said. “Once we have stewardship of this land we can look at development.”
But Grant did agree the open house was a good project to know what could happen afterwards.
“This is a good exercise because once we acquire the land, now we know what direction to go in.”
Mike Tocher of Thinc Design at the Waterfront Open House on Wednesday Nov. 7, 2018 in Cornwall, Ont. Residents were encouraged to come by the civic complex to discuss what possible changes we could see on our waterfront.