One of the most high-profile issues in Ward 5 and the Town of Newmarket is the proposal to re-develop the Clock Tower and adjacent properties on Main Street.
It is a complicated issue, and I have great concerns about the proposed development in its current form.
The concerns that I have heard from residents about this proposal and that I share are:
Parking – Main Street has become an incredible success story in the past few years. The Riverwalk Commons, top calibre restaurants, great shops and fantastic events have made our downtown a thriving area. I support residential development in the Main Street corridor, provided it has adequate parking and doesn't put a strain on existing parking in the area.
Heritage – I am a proud and active member of the Newmarket Historical Society. Like many other residents, I chose to live in Ward 5 largely because of the heritage and share the profound appreciation of the many preserved homes and businesses that reflect the history of Newmarket. In fact, my wife, children and I often take strolls throughout the neighborhood appreciating the many beautiful homes and businesses. I believe that any proposal over 3 storeys must be substantiated by an independent heritage consultant and must add value to our community. I cannot support a mammoth building that does not respect our heritage.
Condo vs Rental – The Town of Newmarket has made great strides in encouraging purpose built rental on Davis Drive, and I support this. I do however personally feel a large residential building in the downtown area would be better designed with condo ownership over rental or as a combination of the two. As the re-development of the Office Specialty lofts off Timothy Street added to our downtown, so too can the Clock Tower development. Many seniors and young professionals would love to own and be near our downtown core.
Construction Concerns – With our Main Street thriving, we cannot afford to have this progress negated by a construction project that imposes itself on the downtown core and negatively impacts parking and quality of life. I am committed to working hard with Council to ensure an appropriate construction management plan is designed that has minimal impact on the businesses and residents in the area.
We must encourage and support progress, however we need to support it wisely. We need to move forward in a way the community can support it now and for generations to come. We need to celebrate our heritage and build our future on our historical richness, especially in the Downtown Newmarket district. It is my hope that the Clock Tower site can be reviewed and provide housing that will benefit the businesses on Main Street.
I am confident that our community will embrace an opportunity for redevelopment and renewal in our downtown core if it is done properly.