Thursday, July 16, 2009

Commercial Vehicles

In the continuing saga regarding the debate over commercial vehicle parking in residential areas, the following was emailed by myself to Collingwood Council for their deliberation on the matter.

Mayor Carrier and Members of Council.

During the public meeting of July 6th, it was apparent that there are two strongly opposing sides re: the issue of commercial vehicle parking in residential areas.
Those against, (myself included) would appear to be respectful of the assets and community identity(s) that we as the current custodians living in this municipality have to be mindful of and to protect for future generations to aspire to live in and enjoy. Those for this controversial bylaw change are certainly entitled to make a living however a person’s livelihood should not come at all cost nor at the expense of your neighbours. I believe that Council has shown this to be the case with respect to the Collingwood Ethanol situation wherein trading jobs for our environment was not acceptable. As with our natural environment, neighbourhood environments deserve the same level of consideration.
Using current economic conditions and the lack of significant new jobs in the area are hardly valid arguments to support the need for self employment and the ability to park a commercial vehicle in one’s driveway. Recessions typically last 9 to 14 months whereas the decision you make regarding this issue will last a lifetime.
A couple of years ago those of us in the real estate profession worked diligently and cooperatively addressing the use of real estate For Sale and Open House signs. These signs although rather small and temporary in their use were felt by some to be an eyesore and detracted from the overall appearance of the Town. We were sensitive to these concerns and arrived at an amicable solution with Town staff which has worked to everyone’s satisfaction. A “For Sale” or “Open House” sign erected temporarily for a few hours to a few weeks is in no way even remotely comparable to a large commercial vehicle with graphics and other lettering adorning a private residence on a daily basis/permanent basis.
As I stated during the public meeting on July 6th, people’s homes now more than ever have become their sanctuaries. It is where they go at the end of their workday and on weekends to relax with family and friends and this is being done so on an ever-increasing basis. A study just released by the Canadian Real Estate Association indicates that from 2005 to 2007, the amount of money spent by Canadian homeowners on renovations and home improvements during their 3 years of home ownership has doubled to $15,000. In Ontario the number is actually higher at $15,875. Based on the residential property sales in Collingwood for the period in question (2005 – 2007) this could arguably have an impact of $12.9 million in economic income to local business. I do not belief that the owners of commercial trucks looking to park said vehicles in their driveways can boast of anything even close to that number. Vacations are actively being replaced by “staycations” with homeowners improving their homes and yards both to enjoy as well as to further enhance their investment. Their willingness to do so may be compromised if commercial vehicles are allowed to invade residential neighbourhoods with the owner electing to move versus improve. One can only speculate as to the impact on property values but I can state unequivocally that many buyers will resist purchasing a home in an area faced with having to cope with the presence of a commercial vehicle next door or across the street.
Decisions with respect to planning and other matters made in the past have already had a profound impact on our Town. The Town’s identity has in fact been compromised on occasion in favour of the commercial identity for those such as Wal Mart, Home Depot and others. Now is the time to stop and reflect on why people choose to come here in the first place. Spending millions to improve Hurontario Street or adding to our parks and trail systems are worthy initiatives to improve the lifestyle that Collingwood residents have come to enjoy but what’s the point if individual neighbourhoods are deflowered of their aesthetic appeal?
Other alternatives do indeed exist with respect to the off hours parking of commercial vehicles. I note that Hydro One has several vehicles parked in a secure, fenced-in area within one of the public storage facilities on the 10th Line. There is little chance of theft and certainly no opportunity exists for “Lot Lizards” to ply their trade. In addition the parking of these vehicles in such facilities in itself is an economic benefit.
Lastly, there is a fundamental lack of courtesy and respect being shown to their neighbours by those in favour of this bylaw. As was presented at the July 6th meeting condominium owners are protected by the rules and regulations of their respective condominium corporations. Single family home owners many of which have a far greater financial investment than their condo dwelling counterparts are entitled to the same level of enjoyment and protection of their properties. By voting against this proposed change, you will ensure that they receive it with little or no economic consequences within the municipality or service standards to consumers as a result.

Yours for a better Collingwood.

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Rick relocated to Collingwood from Toronto in 1985 through a transfer with Goodyear Canada. In 1987 Rick was recruited by a major client of Goodyear’s, managing their Canadian business based in Barrie before moving to Chicago in 1992 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Upon returning to Canada in 1996, Rick ran an industrial products manufacturing company in Stratford, Ontario. In 1998 Rick returned to Collingwood with his two children. Rick is a licensed real estate Broker with Royal LePAGE Locations North in Collingwood and holds his MVA designation (Market Value Appraiser-Residential). He is an active volunteer in the community serving several years on the Board of Directors with the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce as Treasurer, 6 years on the Board of Directors for the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which he is the Past President (2008) and currently serves on a committee with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Rick is a diverse executive manager with extensive experience in strategic planning, manufacturing, finance, human resources and quality assurance management.