'We have to listen to our businesses': Orangeville council abandons plans for downtown transit station

·2 min read

Utilizing Broadway for a transit transfer hub between First and John streets is no longer in the works.

At its meeting on Nov. 23, a request made by Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh to reconsider the original motion from April that approved the development was supported by the majority of council.

The motion, however, did not pass unanimously. Councillors Todd Taylor, Lisa Post, and Grant Peters felt the transit project should proceed as was voted on.

“In my opinion, it is a waste of taxpayer money to throw out recommendations from the experts just because he didn’t give us the answers that we wanted,” said Post.

On Oct. 19, Council had agreed to postpone further decisions until a safety study was completed, following a number of concerns presented by the BIA, downtown business owners and some residents.

“The almost 300 members of the BIA support (raised) concerns, and so does the board,” said Troy Brett, vice-chair of the BIA Board and owner of Mochaberry Coffee. “I just want to make it very clear that a downtown transit hub is not supported by downtown businesses.”

Aside from safety concerns, the loss of parking spaces, and numerous other items, fears of the transit station altering the presence of the downtown core were also cited.

“The impact of the transfer station to the heritage of the downtown core is very important to us,” said Brett. “We are selling an authentic, heritage downtown for tourism and a transit transfer station does not fit with this brand.”

But the councillors in favour noted that despite business concerns, the consultants hired — and the safety study performed — indicated Broadway would be an ideal location.

“This council has used numerous consultants,” Taylor said. “Why use them if we’re not going to utilize the recommendation they gave us?”

The purpose for a consultant is to lay out possible options, rebutted Macintosh, not determine council’s course of action for them.

“I don’t consider it wasting taxpayer dollars. They advised us, we listened, and now we need to make the right decision for the town,” said Macintosh.

After Macintosh’s motion to revote was passed, council members revoted on the April 20 motion to construct a transit hub on Broadway again. The vote was defeated, four to three.

Moving forward, council will look at other options, including a return to the possibility of the Edelbrock Centre.

“Our downtown businesses and property owners have roundly come out against this decision that council previously made,” said Mayor Sandy Brown. “I think we have to listen to our BIA, and we have to listen to our businesses.”

Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner