The public has spoken, and it is overwhelmingly against installing a controversial archway in Collingwood’s downtown.
In a report to be considered by councillors during their Monday (May 30) meeting, results from the public engagement survey on the proposed Collingwood Downtown Business Improvement Area’s (BIA) downtown archway have been compiled through the Engage Collingwood site.
The town received 727 responses to the survey, which sought to gather feedback to inform future steps on the proposed project. Of those who responded, 72.8 per cent (529) said they didn’t want an archway or gateway feature. About 19 per cent (138) said they thought the archway was great, while 8.3 per cent (60) said they liked the idea of a gateway feature, but didn’t like the presented design.
Of the four colour options presented, the top-ranked option was black, followed by navy, grey and burgundy. However, it is noted 476 respondents skipped the question altogether as it wasn’t mandatory. Residents were also able to submit alternate ideas for a gateway feature.
Controversy over the downtown archway project began when the BIA’s general manager, Susan Nicholson, went to council at the beginning of March with an update, indicating it could be standing at First and Hurontario streets as early as the summer.
The project is a BIA initiative, covered in the BIA budget, which is funded through a levy attached to the property tax bill for downtown commercial buildings. Since the presentation in March, the BIA was notified it had qualified for a federal grant for $280,000 for both the First and Hurontario streets arch and a second gateway feature at Hurontario and Hume streets, as well as some other downtown projects.
The archway was proposed due to a wayfinding signage report commissioned by the town and BIA in 2017 that concluded the downtown was not easy to find for newcomers to the area and a gateway feature might help.
Soon after Nicholson’s update in March, comments, emails and letters flooded into town hall, council and local media, opposing the archway and expressing particular disdain for the design — a black metal arch with white font reading “Historic Downtown Collingwood” on one side and “Historic Harbourfront Collingwood” on the other.
Among the comments were accusations the project was heading to approval without public consultation.
On April 19, councillors voted in favour of proceeding to public consultation on the archway project.
BIA chair David Conning resigned shortly after based on comments made by councillors at that meeting, according to his letter of resignation.
To read the full survey results, click here.
The Town of Collingwood’s regular meeting of council will take place Monday at 5 p.m. in council chambers and will be streamed live on the town’s YouTube channel here.