Tag Archives: development

Kincardine preparing vacant lands for development

By Barb McKay

For anyone who thinks the wheels of progress are turning slowly in Kincardine, those in the driver’s seat of economic development locally say there is plenty happening. Several acres of land in prime locations will be shovel-ready as early as this fall. The Community Economic Development Committee (CEDC) held its second quarterly meeting of 2019 at the Municipal Administration Centre. Kincardine Community Development Officer Jenna Ujiye presented an update on development lands. The municipality is currently working with Bruce Power on an option to develop the remaining Ontario Peninsula Farms land behind Sutton Park. “That will open up commercial land and some residential land behind it, which Kincardine hasn’t had in a long time,” Ujiye said. There are approximately 25 acres of developable commercial property, with some work to be completed over the next five to six months including land use planning and zoning and road work. Ujiye said the municipality hopes to have the commercial land ready for sale by the fall. “It’s pretty exciting – it’s been a long time waiting,” she said. Deputy Mayor Marie Wilson, who sits on the CEDC, said the municipality will be reimbursed for engineering fees to ready the lands through development fees. “How many capital projects do you get paid back for?” she commented.

Work is also continuing to prepare land in the Highways 9 and 21 business park for commercial development. This fall, Durham Street will be extended through the business park to Highway 9 and Dahmer Street will be constructed. Water and sewer services will be installed, as well. The extension of Russell Street is expected to be completed in 2020. In other news, the municipality expects to hear from the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) this summer on the Southern Bruce Natural Gas Project. The Ontario government has approved up to $27 million in funding, through cross subsidization, for the project. Mayor Anne Eadie said EPCOR is ready to start laying pipeline as soon as the OEB gives its approval. Kincardine, HuronKinloss and Arran-Elderslie have collectively invested $3 million into the natural gas project. Eadie said natural gas service is crucial for economic development and the investment was worth it to get much more in provincial funding. “Where can you get a return like that for your community?” she asked. Ujiye informed the committee that her department is initiating an economic development strategic plan, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Downtown hurting for retail space

By Barb McKay

The recent fire on Queen Street is another blow to a downtown that is already experiencing a shortage of retail businesses.

The fire, which started in the early morning hours of March 11, engulfed two upper level apartments between Lambton and Harbour streets and led to smoke and water damage in the spaces housing West Shore Clothing Shoppe and Becker Shoes. As a result, the two retailers are temporarily closed until an assessment of the building is complete. If the building is deemed stable the retail spaces will be restored, but it could be months before the businesses are able to move back in.

After the recent closure of a number of long-time retail businesses downtown, including J’Adorn, Nine Waves and Jerome Flowers and Gifts, the loss of two more apparel shops, even temporarily, is significant.

“This is a big impact on the downtown,” BIA downtown development manager Rick Clarke told The Independent the week following the fire. “Losing two key retailers is really a concern. We don’t have a lot to begin with.”

And while there are now fewer retail businesses downtown, there is also a lack of available retail space.

“Even if they (West Shores and Becker Shoes) try to come back with temporary locations, we don’t have the spots,” Clarke said. “We are losing viable retail space to offices and that is a challenge we are facing.”

He said he receives inquires regularly from retail businesses looking for options to open shops in downtown Kincardine.

“We have people who would come if there was a spot available for them.”

Deputy Mayor Marie Wilson, who serves as policy chair for economic development for the Municipality of Kincardine and is the municipal council representative on the Kincardine BIA board, said the downtown has traditionally been utilized commercially for a variety of activities including retail, hospitality, office space and entertainment, “so we enthusiastically welcome and appreciate all kinds of businesses in our downtown – the more the better.”

Wilson said the municipality is focused on servicing land to create opportunities for businesses to set up shop.

“Businesses will obviously locate where there is availability, and so saying, the municipality can make a difference with respect to creating an environment to foster availability for economic development and business retention,” she said. “For instance, the Municipality of Kincardine has spent considerable resources to provide services to the Ontario Provincial Farmlands in the hopes of attracting development. The municipality, in its recent budget, earmarked funding to provide water, sewers and road work to the business park at (highways) 9 and 21. The municipality also hired a community development officer last year to work with potential developers and businesses to explore opportunities, including potential locations that best reflect the needs of everyone.

“Increased availability of options in the business parks will ensure more opportunities for healthy, sustainable economic development not only for the business parks, but for the downtown core as well. As the BIA has stated – servicing the business park at 9 and 21 will help ensure the future and sustainability of the downtown core.”

In the meantime, Clarke said the Kincardine community needs to support local retailers if it wants to have a prosperous downtown.

“If you want a shopping district, you have to support it. For the ones still open, shop there. Given an opportunity to meet your needs.”