Twice now Cornwall city council has rejected the request to offer a Heart of the City tax incentive to the tune of roughly 1.8 million dollars to local investors who want to build a commercial/residential seven story building on the former Courtaulds property. The “no” side claims that by giving them the incentive would set a precedent and open the door to other developers to make the same request despite not being in the Heart of the City’s Le Village area to qualify.
Here is my issue. Where is the long term vision. If this were simply fiscal responsibility I would endorse it, but it’s not just the money. First, I think even with my bum shoulder I could lob a softball from the suggested location into the Le Village boundary. Second, this project will create jobs, eventually contribute to tax revenues to the city and create some increased commercial activity in the city’s east end. Third, the people who would eventually live in the proposed location would be contributing economically to Le Village by gassing up their car, having supper or breakfast at Riverside or King George, maybe even enjoy some sushi at J&T or take in a movie or concert at the Port theatre, all walking distance from home.
Never mind the city’s economic development staff is in Toronto right now trying to lure new retailers to Cornwall at the annual Canadian Convention of the International Council of Shopping Centers. Imagine offering up some of the vast open space that still exists on the Courtaulds land for another strip mall or even a few restaurants with all these new residents who could potentially be moving in soon and walking distance from being a regular customer.
Having a long term vision is not setting a precedent to open the door to any developer who comes to town looking for a tax break, it’s recognizing the long term benefit for the community based on the information presented. Fact of the matter is, council always has the final say and the precedent is only set if they allow it to happen. That land has been vacant for too many years now and development there is long overdue.
Maybe I’m a biased east end Cornwall resident but all signs to me on this issue point to progress and this initiative leading to more development.
Look at the overhead map of the east end below and see all the real estate that is available to develop that has been vacant for way too long.
Where do you stand?