Cookstown Community Improvement Plan, Oct. 8

The Cookstown and District Chamber of Commerce has been advocating for streetscape improvements in Cookstown. They requested a new sidewalk at the west end of the Village in May and the latest letter in the Innisfil Scope seeks $5,000 for new litter bins. I endorse – up to a point – the efforts of the Chamber’s Beautification Committee to improve the neighbourhood. They have enlisted the support of their Councillor, Lynn Dollin, to advocate on their behalf. The Chamber Secretary writes periodically to the local papers to state their case and raise awareness. Where they lost me was when the letter veered off into whining about how much has been spent on the streetscape for Innisfil Beach Road.

The Village of Cookstown has been a part of Innisfil since 1991 and Alcona has been designated as the primary growth area of Innisfil for what, maybe the last 15 years? Isn’t it time to stop the petty, puerile ‘us against them’ mentality? Yes, millions of dollars – I say it proudly – millions have been spent on the Innisfil Beach Road urbanization over 3 years. How? Not by beggaring our neighbours. Because Alcona traded its lake-side cottage character for swaths of urban housing development and the prospect of a load of commercial development yet to come. Development charges and new property assessments are enabling the change. Love it or hate it, we have an obligation to all of Innisfil to make that urban transition the best it can be.

The ‘poor us’ attitude of the Cookstown Chamber, just doesn’t match the facts. Cookstown is still a vital part of the Town’s strategic plan laid out in Inspiring Innisfil 2020. The plan includes defining and preserving distinctive neighbourhoods, developing downtown centres, and creating transportation linkages between neighbourhoods. So far, a new water supply was brought to Cookstown earlier this year. Next an upscale residential development currently underway will bring at least $16 million in new assessment to Cookstown. The Village is currently part of a Heritage District Designation Study in an effort to preserve the essential character of the village as it continues to grow and evolve. A report and recommendations are coming in another month. The Town of Innisfil is holding a public meeting for a Cookstown Community Improvement Plan on Tuesday, October 8, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Cookstown Library branch. (Presentation at 7 p.m.)

What’s distressing is that a Beautification Committee can’t muster enough local support to raise $5,000 for some litter bins. I think more Cookstown residents need to get involved in their community. It’s time for folks in Cookstown to have bigger ideas. Dream BIG. Plan smart. Envision the attractive and vibrant Village you would like to be and inspire all of Innisfil to make it happen. We’re behind you. Cookstown, “the coziest corner in Innisfil”, shouldn’t be the biggest whiner too.