Opinion

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- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Signs of the times – how should we read them? The Owen Sound Hub is starting a semi-regular feature this week about some of the potential development around town.

The current Owen Sound city council was elected to a significant degree on a pro-development platform, with a strong mandate to expand the City's tax base and lessen the burden on current taxpayers. Their success in this endeavour has been mixed, and has involved investing, or forgoing, significant cash.

As we head toward the 2018 municipal election, we're going to look at the implications of some potential developments – what do we as current residents want to see in our city and how do we want our representatives to help shape our growth?

The former-and again-Edwards property on 6th Street East has been for sale since the beginning of March. With an asking price of under $2 million for 6.5 acres and eighty-five thousand square feet of building, it's a great deal, but again, what might be done with the property? It is bordered on the west side by a closed up road allowance used when emergencies close 7th Avenue, on the east by the Frank Smith Apartments, the city's oldest non-profit housing project which is in need of serious updates, and on the south by Twin Pines which is managed by Grey County Housing. There would seem to be a lot of room for municipal input into the development of this land.

After more than one hundred years in business, Legates Fine Furniture closed its doors more than two years ago. On the site of one of the first buildings in Owen Sound and right across the street from city hall, the building has been the source of dreams and speculations ever since. The "for sale" sign was not up long before it was replaced by a "SOLD" sign this week. The new Toronto restauranteur owners have not yet revealed plans for the historic two storey oak-trimmed building, but any alterations and permits will have to go through city departments and council.

The north-east corner of 10th Street East and 16th Avenue was clear-cut last year in preparation for development. The very south corner has a new building now occupied by Sun Life Financial, and on the north side of the lot a sign displays the intention of Southbridge to build a long-term care home there. This is take two for Southbridge – they are the firm that bought the old Grey County Courthouse and jail from the City for $10 and then sold it back to them a year later when it was deemed unsuitable for their purposes. This new facility will amalgamate two homes in Chesley and Chatsworth with Owen Sound's Maple View and Georgian Heights, causing of course – more signs to go up.

Alongside the Southbridge sign on 16th Avenue and across the street beside Seasons are signs posted by the property owners, Andpet (known to their friends and neighbours as the VanDolder brothers), offering to "Build to Suit" for any willing developers or tenants. In a city on the water and land-locked by Meaford and Georgian Bluffs, these growing edges are the last frontier for wide open spaces. Not everyone is up for the challenges of conversion and in-fill that Barry Kruisselbrink has taken on in the past decade.

In spite of the objections of neighbours who had become rather used to the green space in their backyards, the City declared the former 8th Street East reservoir surplus in 2016, and the "For Sale" sign that was up for a few months has now come down. Stand by for news of some housing in-fill on that site.

Watch for more signs of the times, and updates, on OwenSoundHub.org in the coming months.


 

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