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The time to lobby for public waterfront is at hand

Midland resident hopes others will sign petition asking the town to keep Midland Bay Landing public
2020-07-29 ap
Petition calls for turning Midland Bay Landing into a waterfront park. Andrew Philips/MidlandToday

Deb Lacroix is sounding the alarm over fears Midland council won’t do the right thing for its citizens.

With Tiny continuing to restrict access to its beaches and Barrie and Orillia both sporting wonderful public waterfronts, the Midland resident has started a petition to give citizens a voice over the potential development of the former Unimin lands.

“It looks like they (the town) want to put up condos,” Lacroix said of a development that could drastically alter the town’s last remaining bit of waterfront. "If this goes into plan, and the deal gets signed, our waterfront’s gone."

Lacroix said the time to speak up is now because once council accepts recommendations from the Midland Bay Landing Development Board it will be too late to go back when the election is held in two years time.

“I think they will commit to something before then,” she said, adding that would make it more difficult for a new council to overturn any written agreements. “It'll cost whoever's in next ‘X’ amount of dollars to cancel it. Once it's in writing, it's harder to get out of.

"I get it that the town needs revenue, but if you're a tourist town, you should have tourist stuff besides the town dock."

The petition can be viewed here.

According to Lacroix, apathy towards the issue might be one problem since residents often worry about their taxes increasing without considering all the additional development now ongoing in the town that will increase the tax base considerably and will more than compensate for keeping the waterfront land public.

“People need to realize that that’s going to be last bit of waterfront Midland has that they can do something with," she said. “It seems odd to live on Georgian Bay and not have waterfront access."

And with both current Mayor Stewart Strathearn and former mayor Gord McKay already living on the water, Lacroix wonders whether those running the show are cognizant of the need for the average Midlander to have access to the coveted body of water.

She bases that assumption partly on a poll that found many residents wanted to retain the local police force, but Strathearn and McKay lobbied to have the OPP police the town, which is now the case.

“They did what they wanted anyway,” she said. “And now anything we would have saved has been spent suing the (former) police department. Did they get rid of the force just so they could sue them?”

As well, the actual waterfront area in question is relatively small, meaning that even if the town pays lip-service to its citizens by providing a small slip of space for public access, it won’t amount to much in the long run, according to Lacroix.

"It’s a little tiny spot and the rest will be all condos," she said. "If we don't put our foot down on that little piece of land, there's going to be nothing left."

And while the town might point to other municipal beaches, Lacroix said people stopped swimming in Pete Pettersen Park long before the geese regularly took over its beach.

“Because the marina got so big, you were swimming in gasoline and oil. You can see it on the top of the water, which is enough to tell me I don't want to be there. Really, they might as well just shut that down; nobody uses it. And then with Gawley Park, it’s not a big beach for a lot of people.”

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country’s most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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