One of the hot topics around Collingwood these days at least online is a six storey condominium building known as Collingwood Quay proposed by developer Fram-Slokker for a strip of land on the Collingwood Shipyards property between the former launch basin and drydock.  In a recent article about the project in Collingwood Today, the developer is said to have taken the position that a restaurant on the site “will not work” which has raised a lot of ire in the community prompting the creation of an online petition to Collingwood Council.

Collingwood Quay Site

With respect to this project and in particular the entire harbour-lands area, I had written prior blog posts titled “Coliingwood’s Waterfront Is About To Change,” Part 1 and Part 2.  Prior to those I did a post last summer “Collingwood’s Waterfront-It’s Time To Act.”  In that post I expressed my disappointment over the fact that more than 35 years had passed since the Collingwood Shipyards had closed and what might have been done with the property for all to enjoy had been lost.  Instead of the vision that I and perhaps others had for what Collingwood’s waterfront could be, it has essentially become largely a location for residential condominiums that only a few can afford.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against residential condos.  Rather when the Shipyards closed, I had a personal vision so-to-speak of what could be built for both residents and visitors to enjoy as well as providing a strong economic driver for the community.  My vision or dream was based on my visits to other towns and cities across both Canada and the U.S. which similar to Collingwood, were located on a body of water.

While it is great to see that people care enough to jump on the petition bandwagon, it’s important to look at the facts rather than just read a news article to determine if what we want to see is even feasible.   Prior to Christmas, myself and some or my real estate colleagues met online with a representative of the developer wherein we were given an overview of what the Collingwood Quay project was to consist of.  Essentially the six storey building being proposed will have 101 condo units offering 2 bedroom and 2 bedroom plus den floor plans.  In addition there would be two small commercial units on the main floor and one exterior building shown in the sketch below as a “Retail Pavillion.”

Artist’s Rendering East Side View

Artist’s Rendering West Side View

After reading a lot of online comments which was then followed by the formation of the petition to Collingwood Council, the main message being sent was for Council to hold firm with the developer.  In short, it’s like the TV game show hosted by Howie Mandel, Deal or No Deal with people wanting the Town to take the position regarding the developer’s proposal, “no restaurant no deal.”  Everyone including myself has good intentions and yes a waterfront restaurant and shops etc. would be ideal provided they are done right and make sense.  Such a development on the water is what I envisioned and was excited about back in 1986 when the announcement was made that the shipyards was closing. That being said, what few seem to realize in their quest for a restaurant and perhaps some retail shops is a number of issues with one being parking.  In essence there is none.

As stated above, the proposed building will have 101 condo units each of which which will have one (1) underground parking space.  Above ground the plan has a total of twenty-three (23) outdoor parking spaces, including two (2) handicapped spaces,  these are shown in the bottom left hand corner on the plan below.  Twenty-three parking spaces is what has been designated to provide guest parking for the 101 condo unit owners which doesn’t leave many parking spaces for a restaurant if there was one that could cater upwards of 50 to 100 patrons much less for those just wishing to park while visiting the waterfront.

Anyone that frequents downtown Collingwood knows first hand how limited parking is.  Parking spaces on Hurontrario Street are often full as is the municipal lot on Pine Street.  The same limited parking conditions exists in the lots behind the Bank of Montreal and the buildings housing the Rexall Drug store and the adjacent one where LCBO and other business are.  Parking on the shoulder of Heritage Drive leading out to the Terminals have been blocked off with large rocks.  During the warmer weather the gravel parking lot near the Town’s boat ramps is filled with cars and trucks pulling boat trailers.  The Town is awaiting a proposal from a proponent regarding development of the Collingwood Terminals.  Regardless of what that proposal is, be it condos, a hotel, restaurant or shops, parking there is also going to be a huge issue short of building s multi-level parking garage or infilling the harbour.

Heritage Drive Looking North

I will confess that I have signed the petition to Council albeit reluctantly.  More importantly, I have sent a lengthy email to all the members of Collingwood Council outlining much of what I have said herein and I would encourage others to do the same.  What we would like to see happen on the Collingwood Quay site and on Collingwood’s waterfront in general is going to take more than a resident’s revolt/petition.  While the purpose of said petition stating:  “Town Council is requested to block any development where the developer will not add a waterfront restaurant section to their building” has good intentions, it’s not that simple.

The petition further states:  “This is the first opportunity to develop the waterfront.”  This is not true as Fram-Slokker has been building on the former Shipyard’s site since 2010.  The two photos one above and below are from an article in a publication called Urban Toronto that was published in July 2010 titled: “Fram & Slokker’s The Shipyards Opens Up The Waterfront In Collingwood.” Unlike the renderings for Collingwood Quay above, these ones clearly show retail shops, outdoor patio tables with umbrellas offering a place to sit by the water to eat along with docking for transient boaters and plenty of room for pedestrian traffic.

This is not “This is the first opportunity to develop the waterfront” rather it’s one of the last opportunities to develop what remains of the waterfront in a manner that everyone, both residents and visitors alike can enjoy.  To do that is going take a cooperative, collaborative approach, one based on a vision between the Town and any developer that sees the broader picture some of which was set out in Collingwood’s Waterfront Master Plan that was completed back in 2016.

In response to Fram-Slokker’s proposal, Collingwood Council voted 4 to 3 in favour of a motion to refer the Official Plan and zoning bylaw amendments for the Collingwood Quay project back to town staff for a peer review of the retail feasibility study prior to council making any decisions on the amendments.  Two members of Council were absent from the vote.  Frankly, for something as important as the future of the Town’s remaining vacant waterfront lands up for development, I would have expected more that 57% of those members of Council in attendance to have been in favour of the motion.  Voting against the motion is not anti-development or anti-business, it’s just sound municipal planning which is too often missing.

As of the date of this post, 1,452 people have signed the petition, only time will tell what impact the petition or the Town’s staff review of the developer’s application will have with respect to the project moving forward.