Councillors, residents push back on proposal to develop downtown Smithville’s historic core

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Councillors and residents have pushed back on proposals to develop a lot in downtown Smithville in an effort to preserve the town’s historic core.

In a planning, building, environmental committee meeting on April 11, West Lincoln councillors considered proposals for the redevelopment of the lot at 197 Griffin St.

The plans proposed extensive removal and renovation of the original 1920s house to erect a modern building on the site.

They also proposed a bylaw change to allow the main building to be used for a mix of office space and three accessory dwelling units.

Proposals for the construction included the use of wooden sidings, metal cladding and stucco.

However, residents and councillors expressed concern the changes would erode the historic charm of downtown Smithville.

Kenneth Kranendonk, whose property neighbours the proposed development, expressed his disappointment that the plans would result in the removal of heritage buildings from the town.

“We only have a certain number of heritage buildings so to change that would be disappointing,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by West Lincoln Coun. Cheryl Ganann, who lamented previous council decisions to tear down historic buildings in favour of new builds.

“Council, a great deal many years ago, fell victim to the push, at the time, to tear down the old and to modernize,” she said.

As a result, she said the town lost many older character buildings that were replaced by the cement block and metal roof of the Service Ontario building.

“Many residents to this day still complain about the ruination of the downtown,” she said. “Personally, I’m not ready to see this council add to that mistake.”

Representatives from NPG Planning found that the proposals were consistent with the Smithville Urban Design Guidelines.

Councillors encouraged the applicant and their partners to work with township staff to address the concerns brought forward.

Chris Pickles, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News

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