Letter: Housing Project Needed Not Another Parking Lot

The following letter was submitted to MNBP Councillor Laurie (Smokey) Golden regarding the 12 Brock Street parking lot proposal in Tobermory. 

Dear Smokey,

It is with great sadness we see more of our community being turned into another parking lot. 

It is my belief that if there is a shortage of parking for tourists, then the burden of providing for them should fall upon those whose guests they are? 

Is our town to become little more than an amusement park, surrounded by acres of parking lots with no consideration or provision for the people who live and work here?

 In case it is not obvious, I suggest that there is a much greater need by the people who live here, and that is that there is insufficient, suitable housing here for young working families who are trying to raise families on seasonal employment. There is a huge lack of rental accommodation for those who wish to be year round renters. 

And last but not least, there is a grey tsunami of baby boomers who will want to down size but stay here and age in place in their own accommodation with their old friends around them. We also know down the road, if we are lucky enough to live a long time, we will eventually need a Nursing Home here. And that also begs the question “where will the staff to run such a place live?” 

Now is the time to make sure we are not wasting any more municipal land on parking lots! 

Sincerely yours

Frances (Bunkey) Cunliffe.


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Describing the issue

The following is a summary of a letter written by Tobermory resident Bunkey Cunliffe for a RN/Bsc student study.

For the last few decades the tourist industry has been the driving engine of our economy in Tobermory. These days the tourist dollar dictates everything.

Because of the peninsula’s rugged beauty, with clean air and clean water, many people from the city have purchased cottages, for their recreation and eventually their retirement. Over time the housing stock, and to a large extent property, anywhere within commuting distance, has all been bought up for tourism or possible retirement domicile for successful people from the Golden Horseshoe. This has led to local working people having to compete with wealthy newcomers when it comes to buying a home here in their native town. 

Because there is so much demand for tourist accommodation, at top dollar for weekly renters, any modest home, in any condition, is bought up, fixed up and offered not to young working families, but to the seasonal weekly tourist. Local people can’t get a foot on the property ladder, based on seasonal employment and stiff competition, they are often forced to leave. 

We have a lot of older independent/self sufficient retired couples living in large family sized homes, in very nice but isolated locations. And all is well until one partner is lost to illness, leaving a somewhat isolated older individual, rattling around in a large family sized home with no option to stay in this community in suitable housing. There comes a time when the remaining spouse, or the couple, are just too incapacitated to continue and their family is 4 or so hours away, or even out of province! 

These people could sell their homes and buy property that better serves their needs but it doesn’t exist up here. There appears to be no blue print to follow to get this need met in this location. There is only one purpose built residence for the elderly in our community. It is designed to help those with limited means, so most of the elderly up here who have recognized that they need to downsize, have to move away to some more enlightened municipality where there is a greater diversity of options for those who can still afford it. 

A lot of us want to down size – we would like to be in owner occupied units with some common areas both inside and out, ideally within walking distance of the town amenities. 

Because there aren’t any options up here for us in the future we must set about planning and building sooner rather than later, if there is going to be something here when our need arrives. The idea of a supportive known group combining their interests in some type of cooperative living property sounds good to me.