Community improvement plan process starts, could hotel follow?


By Ron Giofu


The town is getting started on a new community improvement plan and the town’s chief administrative officer (CAO) believes it could lead to the resolution of a long-standing wish for many in Amherstburg.

Town council agreed to move the process forward at Monday night’s meeting and that is no small thing according to John Miceli.

“It’s a huge deal,” said Miceli. “We are going to identify what conditions need to be for development opportunities to create a new hotel here.”

The town has heard “loud and clear” that Amherstburg needs a hotel and a completed community improvement plan will lead the community in that direction. He said the town has “a Class A facility” in the Libro Centre but no place to house people and suggested an interim measure to expand the bed and breakfast program in town to allow for additional opportunities to keep people local.

Manager of planning services Rebecca Belanger said $50,000 was approved for the initiative with Monteith Brown Planning Consultants awarded the contracts. She also noted in the town’s strategic plan process last year, the need for overnight accommodations was a common theme. The strategic plan also identified the importance of built and cultural assets with the plan also to incorporate urban design guidelines.

Belanger said those guidelines will provide architectural and urban design requirements for developments, promote cultural heritage, identify building features such as facades and proportions in streetscapes, identify and update required changes to signage and other streetscape features, support streetscape beautification to trigger private sector investment and identify strategies including phasing, design tools, costing and potential funding sources.

Public consultation would also be part of the process, she added. The targeted completion date for the community improvement plan and urban design guidelines is February 2018.

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Miceli added that people who doubt if the town is serious in trying to land a hotel or protect cultural heritage will be able to look at that report and “see we are doing what we need to do to bring these things to the community.”

Town council also gave the green light to administration to begin the parks master plan process. That plan will include a comprehensive review and analysis of parks and recreational needs based on trends and demographics, contain “an extensive public engagement program,” provide a “clear action plan” and strategy to guide the development of future park facilities and recreational amenities over a ten-year period.

Belanger noted that $80,000 was budgeted for the parks master plan initiative with Monteith Brown Planning Consultants also landing that contract.

“A significant consultation plan will occur throughout the process,” she emphasized, noting there will be such things as two public input sessions, online surveys and stakeholder interviews.

The goals that Belanger outlined for the parks master plan include assessing parkland supplies including “a hierarchy of parks and future levels of service,” identifying physical improvements to existing parks and new park amenities and soliciting further public input on the concept plan for the Duffy’s lands.

Belanger said the hope is to have the parks master plan completed in December.

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