Residents fight proposed downtown boundary change
PARRY SOUND - A consideration to change downtown boundaries has some Parry Sound residents concerned.
At its October 16 meeting, council passed a resolution to consider expanding its downtown boundaries as per a request from the Downtown Business Association (DBA).
Although changes would not be made without information sessions and input from the community, two residents spoke out against the proposed alterations to the downtown boundaries.
“It is my legal right to protect my investments in the Town of Parry Sound,” began Theresa Sheridan, who owns several vacant lots on Miller Street. “I never thought I would come to sit here tonight with hopes that you understand why I strongly object to a label being stamped on my properties by the Downtown Business Association. I strongly object to my property being placed on the downtown boundary expansion.
“I pay the taxes on these properties, I look after these properties. Would you not agree that the control of private property is in the hands of the owner, not board members, not committees, not councillors, but the owner?”
Sheridan requested her properties be removed as well as those properties from Miller to Rosetta Streets, because she said there is no financial gain to the DBA, which collects its own tax revenue from businesses within the boundaries.
When she purchased the properties 40 years ago, her properties were residential, then council changed the zoning to residential/commercial, and finally commercial, Sheridan said. Sheridan said she was given a special condition by the council at that time, to build either residential or commercial on those properties.
Nancy Cunningham appealed to council to not include Market Square Park in the new boundary.
“I’ve always felt protected by the Official Plan and when I look at the park I thought, good, that’s for the people, that’s for a passive park,” Cunningham told council. “We’re very fortunate to have the original Market Square Park, so I think it should be protected. It’s an asset. I think you’re on a slippery slope once it’s recognized as part of the Downtown Business Association, because it’s one small step to say, oh well then it’ll commercial. And the next official plan that comes out there’ll be arguments to make it commercial and all of the sudden our park slips away from us. I think we should be sure and protect it.”
Downtown Business Association chair Lis McWalter said there seemed to be confusion with the boundary change and how it will affect current property owners.
“The boundaries haven’t been updated since 1985,” said McWalter. “When the boundaries were set they were set around what was commercial at that time. Since that time, businesses have come in. So we have one business that’s sitting beside another business where one is in the DBA and the other isn’t. We’re trying to update that. The financial impact to the DBA is less than $1,500 a year, because all it is is a clean up. It’s not a money grab, it’s a clean up.”
McWalter added that the DBA would have no say over the properties or their owners.
Before council passed the report, town CAO Rob Mens reminded those present that the resolution will have staff and DBA implement a plan that would be brought back to council next year.