syd-fullBy Anne Finlay-Stewart

After final approval of The Sydenham condominium site plan by City council last night, developer Ron Pirie wasted no time in getting shovels in the ground, ceremonially at least. Demolition will begin this September, and full completion of the 32-unit luxury condominiums is expected by late in 2015.

Mayor Deb Haswell called the development "a game-changer" for the city and its downtown. She thanked the new condominium unit owners for investing in their community.

A handful of those owners were at the "rubble turning" in an empty lot on the site, and they were excited to talk about their new home. "This is what we have talked about for years – that this is what we want downtown," said Don Caswell. He and Susan Kenny moved to Owen Sound fifteen years ago from Toronto. One day he happened to be walking past The Sydenham's downtown sales office and he dropped in "just out of curiosity". They are looking forward to moving from their "monstrous big 125-year old house" into the heart of downtown. Another owner, Margaret Lafleur, has lived in the city six years, and she is a huge fan. "If anyone wants to know about moving to this wonderful community, they should talk to me", she offered. She looks forward to getting to everything she wants – the Roxy, library, art gallery, shopping – without having to drive.

syd-fullbThe owners praised Pirie for his vision and foresight, extending to such details as preserving the heritage panelling from the former Knox church sanctuary for installation in public areas of the new building. They said these high standards are throughout the condominium units – from colour choices to granite counter tops. "There was no need to ask for upgrades, because of the beauty of the standard amenities", the three owners agreed. The former strangers now spoke as neighbours, thanks to a cocktail party held by the developer to allow the new owners to get to know each other. "We have the security of knowing our neighbours before the first shovel is even in the ground."

Eight units are yet to be sold and although the development is being promoted as luxury condominiums, the owners at today's ground-breaking feel the savings on transportation and the carrying costs of a house make it a good value for anyone. They would enjoy a mix of neighbours, and feel the upmarket urban setting maintenance-free and right downtown might well suit young professionals as much as the downsizing crowd.

Anne Finlay-Stewart is Community Editor of She can be reached at [email protected].


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