Council revisits TD bank topic
The proposed conversion of the closed Creemore TD Bank into a village green was once again a topic of discussion for Clearview council at its May 13 meeting when Deputy Mayor Barry Burton presented a motion to reconsider a decision made April 29 directing staff to work with the project build team and draft a partnership agreement for council’s review.
Council agreed to bring the motion back to the table after some concerns were raised by members of the public.
Burton, who didn’t vote for the initial motion, said he has heard concerns about the public consultation process.
“Public participation was great and there were many, many, many ideas about what to do with the building, more than tear down the bank,” he said.
He has heard from people who felt the demolition was a foregone conclusion from the outset and were afraid of voicing their opposition.
“That is a sad state when people are afraid to stand up and speak their mind,” said Burton.
“We need to have public consultation without the influence of consultants trying to make something happen.”
He said the township’s own planning documents say we don’t need any more parkland and there is a loss of $14,000 in commercial taxes with the removal of the building that should be considered.
Councillor Connie Leishman said she too has been getting calls and e-mails from residents and, as a retailer, she sees the concern that the removal of the building would leave a big hole on main street.
Leishman said she did not participate in the three public visioning meetings for the bank property but she thought the community was in support of turning it into a garden.
“Now I realize more discussion should have happened,” she said. “I was never in favour of tearing down the building. It could be used for many things. If you think it’s ugly, it’s just a façade.”
Creemore council rep Thom Paterson, who brought the original motion to enter into a partnership with the build team, said aesthetics wasn’t a factor and that sufficient public consultation has been done.
“Council knew enough last time and made a good decision. It was more consultation than Clearview ever does,” he said, adding there would be more, yet.
“Council did not agree to knock down a building and build a park,” said Paterson pointing out that council has only agreed to work with the build team and form an agreement. “We have a pretty good view of what the public is willing to accept. Yes, there are people who want a different result. That is not grounds for reconsideration.”
He pointed out the level of investment by Creemore Community Foundation in terms of $600,000 to create the park (where the TD Bank building stands and the surrounding park land), and a $1 million endowment fund for maintenance, programing and more.
“If this council can’t see that that kind of investment done right… is going to offset $14,000 in tax revenue, then we have to ask ourselves what we consider economic development if we turn this down,” said Paterson.
Other councillors felt they needed more information and supported a suggestion from Leishman that the reconsideration be deferred. Mayor Doug Measures also agreed to take another look at it, saying at the end of the day this is a political decision.
“I’m supportive of the [April 29] motion because it doesn’t say we are tearing down a building. It does direct our staff to meet with them and report back to council,” said Measures.
To start off the council meeting, Creemore shopkeeper Cheryl Robertson took advantage of the public participation session to say the question should be put to a vote.
“This is a very contentious issue. I don’t think it has been given enough thought,” she said. “Let people have a free vote for what they want instead of a consortium coming in with a set agenda. A lot of people felt they already had their minds made up and that’s why they stayed away from the meetings.”
To close the discussion, council voted to defer the TD Lands Community Consultation Committee Resolution passed April 29 and subsequently reconsidered at the May 13 meeting; and, that this item come back to the June 10 meeting for Council consideration. Everyone agreed, with the exception of Paterson and Burton, who both wanted no further delay although they were on opposite sides of the issue.
From the design brief resulting from the TD lands public consultation sessions held Dec. 9 and Jan. 20:
Creemore’s TD Bank, located at 181 Mill Street, closed in May 2018. Creemore Community Foundation was created at that time, with the aim of having its first community project be the creation of a vibrant public space on the TD Lands.
The Foundation worked to secure the donation of the TD Lands for community use, and invited a committee of community representation, the TD Lands Community Consultation Committee (TLC), to assist in developing a vision for the site that met community needs.
The Foundation hired the consulting firm Small to work with TLC to coordinate a public consultation program to engage the community in the future use of the TD Lands. Over the course of two community consultations and research into community needs, it was determined that an active green space, or Village Green, be developed on the site.
As a not-for-profit community development organization, Small focuses on community-level placemaking strategies that celebrate and activate existing heritage and cultural assets, stories, traditions, and skills to support and showcase vibrant communities.
In Creemore, our work included: Two community open houses; Conversations with key stakeholder groups, either as represented by the TLC committee or with community at large; Creation of a design brief to capture community input and incorporate into design process.
The Design Brief provides a series of guidelines that should inform the site’s future design and aims to clarify the goals and scope of the project and be a reference for the creative and management teams throughout the course of the project. It outlines how the design team can continue to engage, inspire, and entrust the project alongside the community.
To read the design brief, please look up this article on Creemore.com, where we will include a link to the full document. You will also find several articles, letters-to-the-editor and other opinion pieces on the topic. Just search TD Bank.