To Councillor Bernie Corbett

You say you represent the silent majority.  How about the citizens who attended the initial meetings with Staff who worked out a plan to be approved by Council. Are their wishes to be ignored? What about the persons who attended my meetings and expressed their wishes and on a website poll. Are their wishes to be ignored?” You have many questions and excuses, but seldom have any solutions.

Therefore, let’s determine whether citizens’ concerns documented from 2011 and 2012 Public Open Houses were followed, ignored, misinterpreted, or falsified by County Management?

Goals of initial meetings as part of the overall downtown and waterfront redevelopment workshop exercises: A variety of ideas were put forward, with all groups working within the spirit of the workshop exercise. In general, participants understood the important role of the County owned lands and the waterfront to Dunnville, and the potential to improve the downtown, provide a higher level of public amenity, and create a stronger relationship to the Grand River.

Public Open Houses and Reports published from 2011 & 2012: This was an important part of the waterfront redevelopment process. It’s the phase when information is collected and ideas were brainstormed by citizens, children, special needs visitors, park users, local businesses, Chamber of Commerce, and event planners.

But Staff needed to know how to identify the best ideas by comparing them with the existing Centralized Waterfront Parking design. This would ensure that any waterfront redevelopment changes were value-added during the following stages:

Public Open House #1 held in Dunnville on September 14, 2011.

Background Research Report dated October 2011.

Public Open House #2 held on November 8, 2011.

Issues & Options Report dated January 2012.

Public Open House #3 held on May 3, 2012.

 

Citizens concerns collected from 2011 to 2012: A key concern was to retain the Farmers Market in the downtown, in a new improved  shelter with a possible strategic relocation to serve multiple planning and design objectives. Several ideas were put forward to expand the Market and include year-round operations in a single use weather protected structure or as part of a civic minded mixed-use project.

Another concern was the viability of the boat club and marina, with several recommendations to combine these waterfront operations with a restaurant in a new building. Boat launch parking should also be accommodated on the site. Views to and from the river were stated as a valuable amenity to capitalize on, and highlight the community’s waterfront.

Participants expressed interest in retaining the County owned lands as a public waterfront park, with features such as programming, a playground, washrooms, amphitheatre/ bandshell/ gazebo. Public access to the river was also another shared idea, perhaps with a riverfront trail from the bridge to the marina.

Support for the local business community was also discussed. Parking for downtown businesses, the Farmers Market and the Marina was a common element to all of the groups. Incentives were suggested to improve the rear facades of the properties that border the Main Street municipal parking lot. Improvements could include tree planting, painting, or screening with another architectural feature like an arbor or the Farmers Market.

Participants expressed that new infill development should be limited overall. The groups agreed that if it is part of the land use option, buildings should respect the existing character and scale of the downtown and positively contribute to the image of Dunnville. Buildings should relate strongly to Main Street and allow—not block—views to the river.

More green space was encouraged overall, including new street trees, gardens, and parks.

In all, participants agreed that a balanced plan is most appropriate, and that it should not be all comprised of one thing. Participants strongly recommended that the County not sell off the entire public asset and that they only have one chance to get the redevelopment of lands right and that the project should provide an overall benefit to the community of Dunnville.

Were Citizens’ concerns followed, ignored, misinterpreted, or falsified? When County Management offered only six very bad design options for the redevelopment of the Waterfront Lands in 2012 it was obvious that citizen concerns and community best interests were ignored. Why had County Management overlooked the functional, safety, economic, and tourism benefits of our existing (tried-and-proven) centralized waterfront parking design with all its user sites located conveniently around the perimeter? From the published citizen concerns none asked for any of the following inferior waterfront park designs:

Closure of Hydro St access to leave only one less functional and unsafe Bridge St access.

Closure of business overflow parking south of Main St between Hydro and Bridge streets.

Demolition of Riverside Marina in a costly attempt to make up for County lack of waterfront park design experience.

Moving the Farmers’ Market into a bottleneck parking lot instead of alongside its existing ideal location east of Bridge St where it has room for expansion and special events activities south along Bridge St and east along Market St.

Why did County Management propose inferior Waterfront Options? During the proposal phase of waterfront redevelopment, County Management demonstrated its lack of park design skills and lack of community economic development and tourism skills. This caused citizens to spend 1,000’s of community hours to work overtime to safeguard Dunnville Waterfront Park’s existing function, safety, and economic development and tourism benefits.

What went wrong with Haldimand County management and governance? Some of the answers became obvious during the May 30, 2017 Council in Committee meeting captured on video. It was interesting because with Councillor Corbett absent, this allowed some Councillors from west Haldimand to giggle and joke about the project delays, cost doubling, and community dissatisfaction. Citizens must see this 16-minute video of the meeting chaired by Councillor Fred Morison.

Councillor Bernie Corbett’s meetings with people from 2014 on: To help answer your question: “What about the persons who attended my meetings and expressed their wishes and on a website poll? Are their wishes to be ignored?” From your meetings, please provide the names of attendees who asked you to deviate from the citizens concerns published between 2011 and 2012. That is, please provide names of people who asked you to make the following inferior waterfront park design changes from our existing Centralized Waterfront Parking design:

Closure of Hydro St access to leave only one less functional and unsafe Bridge St access.

Closure of business overflow parking south of Main St between Hydro and Bridge streets.

Demolition of Riverside Marina in a costly attempt to make up for County lack of waterfront park design experience.

Moving the Farmers’ Market into a bottleneck parking lot instead of alongside its existing ideal location east of Bridge St where it has room for expansion and special events activities south along Bridge St and east along Market St.

Many citizens ask: “Who would be stupid enough to put a multipurpose Farmers’ Market building in the middle of a parking lot?”

Looking back now, what caused you as our Councillor to ignore the functional, safety, economic and tourism benefits of Dunnville’s existing centralized parking design and support inferior County designs? Was it because County Management gave you, Council and the Public no other viable choices?  As you will recall, you were only given two inferior waterfront park Options to present at your 2015 open house in Dunnville. That is, where County Management did not attend.

The Centralized Waterfront Parking design was the best option created by the County to date. All other County options have been an embarrassment to the citizens of Dunnville and Haldimand County. This has been proven by self-admission in the aforementioned video of the May 30, 2017 Council in Committee meeting. Therefore, could you please provide a copy of the video so citizens can better understand what went wrong with this Haldimand County project.

Bob Allen

Dunnville