Tobermory Residents Advocate For Mixed-Use Housing On Brock Street Property

The Municipally owned vacant lot at 12 Brock Street is conveniently located just minutes from town amenities like grocery, the Community Centre, Library and Post Office.
By Joanne Rodgers, Bruce Peninsula Press

A group of concerned Tobermory citizens proposes that the Municipally owned property at 12 Brock Street be used for a mixed income seniors’ housing development. 

In March, the Municipal staff recommended construction of a parking lot at the Brock Street property. Subsequently, Council has deferred making a decision until further review. 

The Tobermory group would like to see the monies earmarked for an engineering and design study for a parking lot be redirected to a study on the viability of residential housing.

Emphatically stating that this is their home and that they would prefer to be able to stay within the community as they age or downsize their homes, the group has put forward some points in support of their initiative.

Diagram: Conceptual design of a residential housing development. Copyright Frank Burns.

Maintaining quality of life

One is the proximity of a senior-friendly neighbourhood to health care, shopping, social participation and transportation hubs which are essential for healthy active seniors. They cite studies that show that aging in place tends to improve seniors’ quality of life, which improves their overall physical and mental health.

Keeping Tobermory a vibrant community

They are confident that the tax base from a mixed use housing development would more than compensate for any parking revenues. And in the long term, would allow Tobermory to remain a liveable vibrant community for its residents.

Capitalizing on demographic trends

They feel that Tobermory should capitalize on the tidal wave of retiring baby boomers, bringing with them equity, skills and a high level of community involvement. COVID-19 has encouraged the movement of the working population from urban to rural areas. Both groups offer opportunities for revitalising rural towns and reducing reliance on single source economic activity such as tourism; as these groups would demand a more diversified range of services and activities.

Making the property ‘shovel ready’

Both the County and the Municipality play a role in providing properly zoned serviced land. In the past there have been encouraging words both from the political representatives and the planning staff. However the group would like to see some action taken towards the housing initiative. In 2017 a proposal was made to Bruce County for a 20 unit residential complex on the Brock Street property. It is the group’s understanding the proposal was rejected since the land was not ‘shovel -ready’, as the land would have to be rezoned. Utilizing the property now as a parking lot, would require it to be rezoned and also provision made for water and sewer for public washrooms. 

According to the group, if the municipality starts now and updates the studies and initiates the plan for enlarging the water and sewage systems, the housing development could be shovel ready in two to three years.

Canada’s commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050, is a good reason to go this route. Both the construction and the sustainable operability of this project should facilitate this net-zero goal while parking lots only facilitate creation of more greenhouse gases, pollutant runoffs and increase surface temperature.

Long term vision for the community

The group is passionate that Tobermory not be hollowed out and that the community take the opportunity to encourage more revitalization of the downtown and support a long term vision for the village as a place to live and work and less as a place for tourists to park their vehicles.

Persons wishing to support this initiative of a mixed income seniors’ development in Tobermory or find out more information are encouraged to contact Bunkey Cunliffe at 519-596-2649.