More than quarter of a billion dollars in redevelopment projects hangs in the balance while Innisfil Town Council ponders how to proceed in a financially prudent way with the long-planned, and partially completed, reconstruction of Innisfil Beach Road.
Some local dissenters think that building anything other than a multi-lane, wide-open roadway to the shore of Lake Simcoe is a waste of money. Others lean toward trimming or delaying some ‘frills’ like planters, benches, waste cans and flag poles. And some of us who have watched this project wind its way through years of planning and preparation, would like to see it completed as a prerequisite to the creation of an attractive and functioning commercial core for a significant share of Innisfil’s population.
Town staff have indicated that most of the cost will be recovered from development charges as redevelopment progresses. I believe the total cost of road reconstruction is $29.6 million. If 90% is recovered through development charges, that will equal $26.6 million.
Development charges for commercial construction are assessed per square metre: $81.87/sm town-wide plus $56.37/sm within Alcona. At $137 per square metre, the $26.6 million in development charges expected to be assessed along the redesigned Innisfil Beach Road represents about 194,452 square metres of construction, or more than 2 million square feet of new multi-use, multi-storey retail, commercial, office and residential space.
I’m not familiar with costs for building multi-story commercial space but if we estimate a construction cost of $165 per square foot, the Innisfil Beach Road commercial core will be home to about $330 million worth of construction. Based on Canadian employment data, that investment would account for about 1,800 direct construction jobs plus employment in materials manufacturing, legal, accounting, real estate and design professions.
As we get tantalizingly close to seeing more of this streetscape take shape, continued carping about the boulevard design and complaints that spending on anything more than asphalt is a waste of money, has prompted Town Council to review the $7 million budget for the next phase. Let’s keep in mind what’s at stake, the potential benefit, and hope that Council combines community vision with financial prudence in deciding the way forward.