An immodest proposal for council’s legacy

Collingwood council has hit the halfway mark in its term, and aside from the bump (bubble?) in the road that was the rec facility debate, there’s not much to point to where our local politicians have gone off-tangent from the course set following the 2010 regime change .
Municipal spending under control? Check.
Debt lowered? Check.
Admiral Collingwood Place given the green light? Check.
A review of the municipal administration? Underway, and just about checked off.
Resolving the patio issue? Easily checked off
Minimizing the confrontational nature of council that was a hallmark of the previous term? Mostly checked.
Recreational ? Uh, partial credit.
OK, so the direction on rec facilities — which will see fabric membrane structures built over Centennial Pool, and a new ice pad at Central Park — wasn’t to everyone’s liking. People are unhappy with the perceived rush to approve, and sole-source the construction of, the two structures.
The Parks, Recreation and Culture committee felt left out of the loop, the result being three people resigned from the committee.
To council’s due, after 20 (or more) years of talking, talking, and more talking, something is being done about recreational facilities. We’re getting a second ice surface, and swimmers are getting a year-round competitive pool.
It’s now water — and ice — under the bridge.
But are those rec facilities a legacy to the community? I would argue no: they’re addressing needs, for certain, but it’s not something that will leave a lasting impact on the community as a whole — and it has nothing to do with the fact they’re fabric structures and not bricks and mortar.
But onward…
Now is the time for this council to consider its legacy, and it’s not even one they need to think really hard about.
The harbour.
I’ve already revealed my own disclosure and interest, as a member of the canoe club and the town’s Harbourlands Committee, but it’s pretty clear others are thinking along similar lines. Of the 15 people who approached the mic during council’s public meeting on how to spend the Collus money two weeks ago, the issue of the harbour was raised four times.
Previous studies have been prepared on what to do about Collingwood’s harbour, but given the changes that have occurred within the harbour area the last 10 years, especially the greater focus on its use by the paddlers and rowers, I wouldn’t go back and re-examine their recommendations. Even a 2009 report prepared for the Harbourlands committee was woefully inadequate, as its only concrete recommendation was to turn the place into a parking lot for boats with little regard for other users.
What’s needed is a balanced approach that considers the needs of all users: paddlers, rowers, anglers, transient boaters, and the yacht club — as well as those who enjoy a walk along the paths that follow the waterfront.
Right now, there is a very small window of opportunity, if only town council is willing to grab at it.
The town is presently undergoing a process of selling the grain terminals; in January, it’s very likely the yacht club basin will be included, should council go ahead and declare that piece surplus.
I’m not saying to not sell that property. What I am saying is the money from that sale — perhaps with some of the money from the sale of Collus — should be reinvested into the harbour as a facility, with the town working with all user groups, and the public at large, to create an outstanding amenity the entire community can enjoy and be proud of.
Collingwood’s harbour is a jewel — it just needs a whole lot of polishing.
This is council’s challenge, and opportunity.