Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

Lately there’s been significant local dissatisfaction with the way the new streetscape in Alcona abruptly cut off the primary access to the plaza at the 25th Sideroad by eliminating left turns into the plaza from Innisfil Beach Road. The affected businesses managed to collect 1,000 signatures on a petition.

Although I fully support the idea of the new streetscape, I was surprised that more effort wasn’t made earlier to communicate this significant change to the property owner, the business tenants and – hey, here’s an idea – the surrounding residents that frequent the local businesses! The official response has basically been, ‘Tough on you’. Is that because the curbs and entrances at that corner were designed for ‘what will be’ rather than ‘what is’?

Since the Town wants to revise the zoning for Innisfil Beach Road to specify street-side buildings with a maximum height of up to six stories, when will someone please let these people know that, in its present form, the plaza’s days (in my opinion) are numbered? The current business disruption is nothing compared to what is likely on the horizon for some of those local services and retailers.

And that brings me to another point. There seems to be a pervasive sense of unease among many residents about the whole urbanization project. Most often people complain about the cost but I think it runs deeper than that. One day while I was out to check on the latest construction progress I had a short discussion with someone doing much the same thing. He was unhappy about it and said, “We moved here to be in the country and they’re turning it into Toronto!”

While Council views the process in terms of progress, prosperity, modernization and so on, some residents only see it as the wholesale obliteration of community and a ‘small town’ way of life. So far, we’ve seen a proliferation of big box stores that are just turning Alcona into ‘Anywhere’. Council may have made a serious mistake in not working harder to explain the goals behind the urban redesign and in not building more public support for it.

People often tend to not like significant change and there’s much more to come in the years ahead. Like I said, ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’.