Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Clock is Ticking, Time for One Last Play in the Remediation Game

 Over the past several months I have refrained from openly blogging myself about the various issues taking place in our community, focusing instead on real estate and other related matters.  I have on occasion posted some of my comments on other blogger's sites specifically "Enough Is Enough" and "View From A Nobody" while I sit back and deliberate on what is going on in our community and more importantly, how do we fix it?

  This past Monday I sat in on the Council meeting primarily to see first hand, how Council was going to deal with the lingering mess known as the Admiral Collingwood site at the corner of Hume and Hurontario Streets. Today I emailed the Enterprise Bulletin the following as a Letter to the Editor and in the event it is not published I thought I would share it herein.

To The Enterprise Bulletin

This letter is in response to your story titled “Remediation deadline for Admiral property delayed two weeks” pertaining to the pond at the corner of Hume and Hurontario Streets.  While attending the Council meeting of Monday April 28th I could not help but recall a commitment made in the football theme “Half Time” newsletter that Council inserted into our February 2013 Collus bills.  In keeping with the game context of said newsletter, let’s compare the current situation.

  In last year’s four page full colour newsletter to their constituents, Council outlined their “second half game plan” which included the following statement regarding Admiral Collingwood and the Shipyards and I quote: “Encourage the developers to finish the project this term.”  Fourteen months later, the playing field hasn’t changed, these sites remain untouched and team Collingwood continues to fumble the ball despite their assurances to us of the contrary.

  Anyone that has followed this situation knows that the development at the corner of Hume and Hurontario Streets has gone through so many rule changes that a “time out” has now been called by the developers.  With their legal counsel sitting on the sidelines and billing taxpayers by the hour, team Collingwood must now revise their second half game plan for one final play of the game late in the 4th quarter.  This is yet another unfortunate delay in the game with the citizens of Collingwood (the fans) becoming increasingly restless and disenchanted.  Only those fans wishing to see the game played fairly with a positive outcome remain in their seats, loyal to the cause while everyone else heads for the nearest exit.    

  This delay of game need never have happened for as in most games there are rules.  In the development game rules consist of official plans, zoning by-laws, site plan agreements and other stipulations some of which can be amended.  The rules of the game for the Corner of Hume and Hurontario Street were all very evident going in including the fact that the property resides in the Town’s Heritage Conservation district.  The developer’s desire to change the rules initiated a fan revolt.  Once the rules were changed in favour of the developer’s team, a cold economic wind had blown in.  Further, fans didn’t like the developer team’s game plan, the cold stadium seats remained unsold and the team folded.

  Since the outset, there have been so many rule and player changes that the game has now become a free-for-all.  We’ve gone from a highly organized and strategically played game of football to the mayhem of dodge ball where virtually anything goes.  Despite their best yet unrealistic intentions of having Admiral Collingwood and the Shipyards completed “this term,” Council has now seemingly abandoned that game plan, thrown away the rule book and adopted once again the developer’s play book which is what got us to where we are in the first place.  I suspect the two week delay of game will result in team Collingwood running to their own goal line effectively scoring on themselves. 

  The clock is ticking down the final few seconds, team Collingwood is trailing, time for one more play in the game.  What to do?  Grant the developers the one year extension (yet another delay of game) that one of them is requesting with the provision that some minor site remediation be done in the next 60 days. This is after all the southern gateway to our downturn core and we’ve endured an unkempt playing field far too long.  Fans will soon be arriving in the form of the summer tourist crowd not to mention the Town’s beloved Elvis fans.  A one year extension places the future of this site in the hands of the incoming Council, one in which we hope will be more effective in developing a game plan that will deliver a final product worthy of this landmark location and of an aesthetic and financial benefit to the community.  

  The loyal fans of team Collingwood cannot and will not take much more.  In order for the game to be effectively played out, the field conditions need to improve and the established rules need to be consistently followed.  The current team Collingwood is so dysfunctional; it clearly isn’t up to the task.  It’s time to fire the coach, make some player trades and put others on waivers.

  I do not mean to make light of this festering situation but you can't help but put a comedic spin on this multi-year comedy of errors.  How many more acts of political theatrics must we endure before either (a) the site is cleaned up while it awaits a potential new owner or (b) the current developers get on with a marketable project(s) that meets the needs and demands of commercial tenants, residential buyers or a combination of both.

  Official plans, zoning by-laws and other municipally adopted policies and regulations are in place specifically to guide development in an effective and controlled manner.  As I said above, the ball has and continues to be fumbled and or tossed around with no real attempt at following any rules much less successfully carrying it down the field to score a touchdown.


Anonymous said...

Good letter Rick, I think most of the Town is sick of what we call the 'hole at the corner of Hume and Hurontario'. I am fearful that there will be an accident at that site and someone will be terribly injured.
As for myself, I don't go down Hurontario Street anymore unless I absolutely have to.
Please consider throwing your hat in to run for Town council, it would be great having a few brains sitting at the table.

Jennifer Knight said...

As Anonymous stated (Anonymous don't be scared, they are just people) this is a great letter and it would be terrific if you stepped up to the Town Council plate. The problem is the lack of integrity and the frequently occurring self-serving agendas. Until this changes we are not going to get the decisions, actions or results necessary for this town, the residents and businesses. We need people who genuinely care and are passionate about maximizing on the potential of this community. People who love Collingwood and will not accept anything short of excellence.

Chef Philip Tarlo said...

Just remember who you represent the people of Collingwood, that's why your on council. Where has good governance gone, where is following process gone, where has integrity gone. Would other tourist destination put up with a bomb site at the entrance to there town, should the citizens put up with it for a minute longer? take pride in our Georgian triangle jewel.

Rick Crouch said...

Thank you all for your comments. We are fortunate enough to live in one of the best communities in Canada. From the natural surroundings, to its storied history, the close proximity to major markets and also the people, Collingwood offers numerous assets and tremendous potential for a bright and promising future. At the same time it is a badly mismanaged corporation and having come from an extensive corporate background I can make that comment with some degree of authority and experience. Things have to change.

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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.