I have no recollection of ever meeting Peter Geibel and I was intrigued to find out more about his position on the Clock Tower and, more generally, why he was running for the Ward 5 by-election. So I emailed him.
As I didn’t get any response I posted a gentle blog saying he backed Jill Kellie’s on-line petition supporting the Clock Tower. (He tells me he is away and my emails disappeared into his spam folder. He says the problem is now fixed.)
Geibel says my earlier post was “a bit presumptuous in regards to my views”. He has specifically asked me to update my blog with his considered comments which are set out below.
I am happy to do this.
Exploring possible alternatives
Geibel says he favours greater density in the old downtown but is undecided about Bob Forrest’s seven storey rental block which is currently before Council. He tells me he has spoken before about reducing the height of the development
“to lessen the impact to Main Street”
but since deciding to run for election he has been
“exploring possible alternatives which could be proposed to achieve the goal of increased density while preserving the essence and character of the historic area”.
I want to be fair to all the candidates running for election in Ward 5 but I am not neutral. I don’t want to trip anyone up just for the sake of it. But if I get out of bed on the wrong side, who knows what I’ll say? I am not the CBC.
Clock Tower eclipses all other issues in importance
To be clear, the key issue in the forthcoming by-election - and the one that eclipses all others in importance - is the Clock Tower. If the Council approves Bob’s seven storey rental block in the middle of the Heritage Conservation District (and if the decision is allowed to stand*) it would be irreversible, opening the floodgates for more inappropriate development blighting the entire historic downtown and changing its character forever.
* If the Council approves Bob’s Clock Tower, as sure as night follows day the decision would be challenged by residents at the OMB. On the other hand, if the Council rejects the application, Bob would reactivate the sleeping appeal he has lodged at the OMB. In those circumstances, the Council would be expected to defend its decision at the OMB, supported by the Newmarket Branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and other concerned residents.
Peter Geibel’s position
I was reviewing your blog and noticed the commentary you noted with respect to my views in regards to the clock tower development. I appreciate you attempted to contact me previously but I wish you would have spoken to me prior to making this post which is a bit presumptuous in regards to my views.
To be clear on my position, I do believe that increased density in the Main Street area would be a benefit to support the area businesses which I would like to see remain and prosper on Main Street as they have been an integral part of its rejuvenation, and also to provide living options for our aging population who would appreciate remaining in the area but may find maintaining their century homes budget prohibitive, but I am currently undecided about the proposal set before council.
I have expressed previously I would like to see the height reduced to lessen the impact to Main Street, but at the same time since my decision to enter the race I have been exploring possible alternatives which could be proposed to achieve the goal of increased density while preserving the essence and character of the historic area.
Update on 31 August 2016: Peter Geibel's website is now up and running.