Cornwall Ontario – It’s been an exciting week so far! I finally returned to Cornwall after being away for over a year, just in time for an important city council meet.
Last night City council kicked off the meeting with a presentation on Waterfront Lands given by Rachel Perkins.
At the beginning of the presentation it was unclear whether she was presenting or just giving us general information. In fact the current Mayor of Cornwall (Leslie O’Shaughnessy) had to stop her mid sentence and clarify whether she was in fact presenting.
Cornwall’s waterfront may well be under siege when it comes to outside parties and development. There are eight in Ontario up for grabs which are to be sold at market value.
Does Cornwall have the money to purchase the lease on these lands? Or is it just another ploy to have condos go up on prime real-estate locations despite the negative feedback from large numbers of Cornwall residents? It is unclear whether the city will be able to obtain these lands with a lack of funds to purchase them, considering the budget issues.
Regardless of City Council’s interest in these lands it’s clear that without incurring more debt they won’t be able to be purchased. It’s sad that despite all the history and importance of the waterfront the leaders of this town have very little say in what will happen with the waterfront going forward if it is not purchased by the city.
I’m sorry Cornwall but it looks like you will just have to get used to the high potential of sharing the waterfront with ugly buildings and new infrastructure. However should Canada Lands choose to purchase the land, they would work with the municipal government in hopes to satisfy their needs and the needs of Cornwall’s locals. The problem however is that there is no guarantee that once purchased that the land will stay as it is.
If you allow outsider developers access to these lands you are looking at next to no say in what will be done with them. It is important that as a community the land in Cornwall up for sale, should be bought by the city in order to maintain it as it is. One of Cornwall’s largest attractions is its waterfront; so it seems to me that it would be in the best interest of everyone who cares about the waterfront that Cornwall maintains full control over what happens with these properties.
If the city of Cornwall has any hopes in keeping control over what happens to these plots of land they should be fundraising, as apposed to raising taxes and taking loans out to conquer more debt; considering the budget is already in question. While Cornwall has less debt then some of the other cities surrounding it, that shouldn’t mean having to borrow more money to save its own hide.
My concern is the needs of the locals. What does the public want to see happen with these lands and how are we able to accomplish it? At the end of the day the citizens of Cornwall are the ones who have to deal with any unwanted development.
To keep the locals happy Cornwall’s politicians should be looking at the needs and wants of their people not the needs of their own interests. However I can’t speak for council I can only speak for the ones that matter, the people of Cornwall that make this town what it is.
Emily Hutcheon is the Associate Publisher of CFN. She is a graduate of the defunct Journalism Program at St. Lawrence College which boycotts this newspaper sadly.
She lives in Toronto where she will be covering city politics in 2018!