Innisfil Welcomes Santa this Weekend

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Just a note to remind my ‘younger’ readers that Santa will make a bright and colourful appearance in Cookstown during Light Up Night this Saturday (25th) which takes place from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. Enjoy treats and cider at merchants along Queen St.

The traditional Lighting of the Tree is at 6:00 p.m. followed by the Santa Claus Parade at 6:30 p.m. The party continues afterward with hot chocolate and caroling at the Cookstown Library.

Santa must love Innisfil because he’s making an encore appearance at the Alcona Santa Claus Parade on Sunday (26th) along Innisfil Beach Rd. from 25th Sideroad to Jans Blvd. starting at 1:30 p.m.

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The Creative Inch

I received this notice too late for the opening night of this art exhibit in Cookstown, but it continues into December. An intriguing idea worth a visit … details below:

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Celebrate the Great Trail

The Trans-Canada Trail is a spectacular achievement – a trail that links 15,000 communities over 24,000 km. This year, the 150th year of Confederation, the plan is to fully link the Trail. Celebrations are taking place in 200 communities across Canada in recognition of this milestone and the efforts of dedicated volunteers since 1992.

We are fortunate that the Great Trail extends through Innisfil along the Thornton to Cookstown section. You’re invited to participate in a local family celebration in Cookstown taking place Saturday, August 26, 10 am to 2 pm (Wellington St. and John Dr.)

Families can participate in a Trail Scavenger Hunt, learn all about turtles with Kids for Turtles, enjoy free pizza from Bernie’s Pizza, and more!

Learn more at thegreattrail.ca

 

Creative in Cookstown

In past years, The Cookstown Chamber of Commerce has sponsored a Creative Chair Contest. Regular readers know that I enjoyed participating a few times. This year, “anyone, anywhere” – young and old(er) – are invited to join in a new fun challenge. I’ve got my theme picked, and my idea forming. How did they know I have a bunch of old frames in the garage?

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Making Room for More

Cookstown is next in line for more development according to the latest rezoning notices. Although some people resent the level of change that new development brings, it is being driven by provincial policy that requires planning for a growing population. Either we spread out or gather closer. Rezoning is the equivalent of spreading further out. Intensification is the equivalent of the signs on streetcars: “Please move to the back of the car”. We have a set amount of space on our particular ‘car’ neighbourhoods and we’re being asked to also gather closer together.

On Wednesday July 27, 2016, Council will consider rezoning land north of Victoria Street West in Cookstown from Agricultural General to Residential (R3), Residential Semi-Detached (RS) and Open Space (OS) according to plan of subdivision by Victoria Street Development Inc. (no map was published with the notice)

At the same meeting, Council will consider an application to “redesignate” lands on Queen Street from Rural Area and Natural Environmental Area to Residential Low Density 1; Parks & Open Space; and Natural Environmental Area. This would enable a future residential Plan of Subdivision, pending Official Plan approval, which would allow for approximately 152 residential units on the site.

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Over in Alcona, Abendel’s site plan (east of Jans Blvd.) for strip retail, bank, office building and townhouses has been referred back to staff and a report and recommendations may also return to Council by July 27. Property adjacent to No Frills grocery in Alcona may also be the future site of a Swiss Chalet and Harvey’s restaurants if approvals are secured.

The Innisfil Heritage Committee continues to advocate with Council (since 2010) for the preservation of the c. 1880 McConkey home, which was the former residence, on Innisfil Beach Road, of the current mayor. So far Council has refused to add it to the Heritage registry, a step that would delay any demolition for 60 days. The committee listed the town’s options as:

  • Register the property (60 day delay to demolition)
  • File an Intent to Designate the property (90 day freeze)
  • Negotiate with the developer to preserve the home in the development or move it to another site
  • Allow demolition if materials are salvaged and reused
  • Do nothing

Once again, no action was taken as Councillor Donna Orsatti moved for the report to be referred back to staff for further study of the third option.

Signs of High-Rent Blight

While Cookstown works within the framework of a Heritage Conservation District to preserve the essence of the community and Alcona struggles to create a new but traditional shopping district, both Innisfil neighbourhoods are plagued with under-utilized and undeveloped commercial spaces.

In my last article, I questioned the logic of giving property tax rebates on empty commercial spaces. It seems entirely counter-productive to the economic and social health of our community. However, in some circles, it’s seen as being ‘business-friendly’. I was told that the real problem is that Innisfil property taxes are too high. It was suggested to me that commercial rates should be lower to compete with neighbouring communities like Barrie. That seems too simplistic for a couple of reasons:

  • We already tried that approach on a national scale with lower corporate taxes and ended up with companies sitting on what the Bank of Canada described as a mountain of “dead” money. There can be little expectation that lower taxes for landlords would proportionally benefit their commercial tenants.
  • We shouldn’t necessarily be trying to energize our local economy by impoverishing a neighbor’s opportunities. Can’t we create incentives and opportunities to motivate entrepreneurship within our own growing community?

The factors involved are more complex and in trying to understand it, I came across a revealing article Continue reading