This week in The Scoop, Greg Kielec talks about Cornwall’s Waterfront Development Committee:
The past four years of Cornwall’s Waterfront Development Committee have been hardly inspiring for residents of Cornwall.
The transformed committee — radically overhauled by Mayor Bob Kilger after his 2010 election victory — quickly turned its attention to building condos in Lamoureux Park after unceremoniously dumping the previous committees plans for Lookout Point shortly after the 2010 election.
What was even more frustrating for those serious about protecting the waterfront was the impression that the plan had been hatched on the sly to benefit local developers.
The rather dubious plan for a large residential/commercial building just east of the aquatic centre was roundly panned by residents in a public meeting and was righfully put out its misery by city council. The inexplicable push to plop yet another large building down along the city’s waterfront was a waste in the committee’s resources and time, as well as a waste of city hall resources.
So it was reassuring to see mayor-elect Leslie O’Shaughnessy recently promise in an article by Standard-Freeholder reporter Greg Peerenboom he would be reining in the committee which at times appeared to have gone rogue in the past term.
“What they should have done is follow the master plan,” the mayor-elect said, of the waterfront plan developed in 2007 to provide an enhancement blueprint for the waterfront, from Guindon Park in the extreme west to the Raisin Region Conservation Authority at the city’s eastern edge.
O’Shaughnessy was also critical of the board’s zeal to entertain real estate proposals said that instead of adding more recreational features to the city’s waterfront jewel, according to the article.
I covered the waterfront committee and its condo push extensively while reporting at The Journal during council’s past term, and trying to get answers about how the condo idea came about was like pulling teeth.
It is clear in the committee minutes that Roy Perkins, one of the committee members, was a major proponent of the proposal. But there is no clear paper trail indicating how the committee veered from a tourism oriented project at Lookout Point to condos next to the complex.
The best answer Chairwoman Lee Cassidy could offer at the time was that the parcel of land nestled in the triangle formed by the complex, curling club and Marina 200 was the only city-owned waterfront land available for development in the city. If that was the best and only case for such a development, no wonder it fell with a thud when unveiled to city residents.
When I ran for the position of city councillor last month, one of the major tenets of my platform was the repurposing of the waterfront committee with new guidelines and a strict mission statement or the elimination of the committee altogether.
With the proper oversight and guidance by O’Shaughnessy and all of council, perhaps this much-maligned committee can finally get back on track and earn some much-needed respect from those who hold dear our city’s crown jewel.
Greg Kielec is a career reporter and newspaper editor with more than 25 years experience covering municipal politics in Cornwall in the surrounding area. He most recently worked for The/Le Journal, where he covered Cornwall City Hall extensively. Prior to that he spent more than 10 years at the Standard-Freeholder in Cornwall as reporter, wire editor and assistant city editor.