The winds of change have started blowing around Penetang's town dock.
A recent master plan presentation by Sajecki Planning was attended by more than 40 people, including residents and council members.
The consultants presented three plans for how they envision the town dock could change to adjust to long-term goals. The plans were derived from previous community feedback received. A new survey is now available online for residents to share their thoughts and feedback.
Some of the features of the three plans (presented visually at the recent meeting) include continuous public access to water, boat-trailer parking, a boat ramp, a commercial area, green buffer zones and possibly a hotel.
A quick poll of those attending the Zoom meeting showed people were in favour of option 1 that recommended: a renovated tourism information centre (TIC), a park, a commercial area, a public square, parking, the Dock Lunch building, boat-trailer parking, general parking, a green buffer zone, landscaped area/park, a boat ramp and a dock.
Attending council members and residents were also able to ask the consultants questions.
"Was any consideration given to the redesign of the entrance to the dock area?" asked Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau.
Coun. George Vadeboncoeur also had an opinion on that.
"Given the multiple entrances at that location, (was) a roundabout looked at as a potential more efficient use of that area, so that multiple entrances could enter into the dock?" he asked.
Michi McCloskey, senior planner with Sajecki Planning, said they would get into that with the master plan options.
Coun. Dan LaRose was concerned about the re-imagining the current parking area.
"Have you taken into account how busy our parking lots are during the summer?" he asked. "To take away any of the parking, would be a big problem in my view. We need that for boating and most of our residents need that. We derive a lot of our funds from the parking operations, rentals and boat launch."
David Sajecki, partner and co-founder of Sajecki Planning, said they were aware of the importance of parking.
"(It's) probably the key item in identifying how the town dock is going to function," he said. "This is looking at a long-term vision and there will be a phased-in plan associated with it. We're considering flexible parking that can be used as parking when there's need and other things at other times."
Coun. Deby Levy wanted to address the options around the TIC structure.
"I would suggest that it would be most important to renovate the office and not to move it," she said.
But Mayor Doug Leroux was of the opposite opinion.
"I'm not adverse to having the TIC building removed, but I'm not in favour of seeing a hotel in that space," he said. "It's a million-dollar view no matter where you look at it from."
For a hotel to be placed on the property, Sajecki said, the town would have to dig deep into the implications of the 100-metre building buffer zone of the sewage treatment plant in the vicinity.
"The way we understand it right now is that overnight accommodations cannot be placed within that buffer," he said. "We're exploring to see if those rules can be opened up. Outside of the 100 metres, there isn't a lot of land that the hotel can be located."
Leroux also pointed out that parts of the town dock property are owned privately.
"Would we have to purchase that property to accomplish that?" he asked.
Sajecki said they would need to have further discussions with the property owner.
Andrea Betty, director of planning and community development, also read out a couple public comments.
"Have we given consideration to installation of electric vehicle charging stations?" she read, answering, "We will be looking at any green infrastructure in our plan. I don't think we've got to that level of detail in our plan."
The second comment was around the environmental effects of the dock functions.
"(Has) consideration given to the environmental effects of the town dock functions will mean for the future of being next to a large body of water, such as water runoff, stormwater management, protection of existing habitats and pollution?" read Betty.
More on that will be included in the master plan, she said.
The draft secondary plan will be presented to council at its May 12 meeting.
Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com