On March 19th, last, I attended the City Council meeting and was impressed with the abilities of council to proceed with the utmost professionalism and respect for each other as they addressed the issues in the agenda. And they have, as in the past, brought many positives to our City despite some obstacles that have been constantly on their minds, and that they would like to see addressed and corrected.
During the meeting, one of the delegations that appeared was in connection with the repurposing of St. Peter’s School site in the Oxford/Rayburne Street area. It is the intent of the developer, Nelmar Holdings, to convert the site to senior residential apartments, the second endeavor of this group, having redeveloped the once St. Margaret’s School. After proceeding with the plan outline by staff, and further explanations by the developer representative, one of the residents in the area, Mr. Bill Graham, came to the podium and provided his positive input on the project, referencing various questions and concerns that he initially had and which, for the most, have part been positively addressed by the developer. A brief debate by council led to the recommendations by staff to be accepted, with the knowledge that as the project progressed, any further questions would be duly discussed with Nelmar.
I make mention of the above, as I see new beginnings in many areas of Sarnia, providing excitement as we wait with anticipation as these changes to come to fruition. So much has been accomplished during this term of council as they work co-operatively with Sarnia City Staff, with focus on the Strategic Plan of 2017-2020, the MISSION being that there is “Strength through collaborative leadership.”
From my discussions with many of our councilors, they, too, have the entire community as the heart of how they analyze, interpret and make their decisions on the information they receive. They also agree that one of the most important programs that is now part of the practices at City Hall is the “One Team Sarnia”, introduced by the CAO Margaret Misek-Evans. Briefly, this initiative is designed in part to assist the City and potential developers to work together through each phase of a potential development, so that questions are answered and the process made easier, with the result that a proposal will hopefully become a reality. It is a vital cog in the wheel, breaking down the silos at City Hall.
We have much to look forward to as new developments come on-stream. A short summary of those is as follows:
- Development of 74 residences in Brights Grove
- Afton Venture – London Rd. – an 81 unit residential project
- Devine Street School – (memory care facility & seniors residence)
- Tricar Apartment complex – corner London Rd. and Christina St.
- Conversion of the once-Drawbridge Inn to a new Insignia Inn and Suites in the downtown area.
- A new Tepperman’s Furniture store soon to be completed on London Road.
We are also in the enviable position to be witnessing the “un-building” of the Sarnia General Hospital site, now in the possession of the G5 group. There has been much accomplished since their takeover, and they are committed to an entire site cleanup, followed by full development of the area. This project was a large investment both on the part of the City and the Group of 5, which will bring a host of good things to the Mitton Street area, and a spillover quite possibly into the Downtown and Mitton Village.
And of course, we have seen a resurgence of our Downtown, with the refurbishment of many of the buildings and facades, and the addition of new and exciting venues, offering much in the way of goods and services fine foods, all adding to a strong sense of community.
Much good and much newness is transforming the footprint of Sarnia…and it would not be accomplished without the efforts being made by our Elected Officials and the Administrative Team at City Hall.