Newmarket’s planners are recommending “approval in principle” for the new Clock Tower development in the heart of the historic downtown.  

Councillors will be getting a presentation at 9.30am on Monday (28 February) from the owners who will be setting out their stall, explaining how their boutique hotel will work in practice.

The Clock Tower “minor variance” application was approved by the Committee of Adjustment on 26 January 2022 although most people would consider the proposal to be anything other than minor.

I am disappointed to lose the long distance view of the Clock Tower from Park Avenue (from beyond the library) but what is more important – the long distance view of the Clock Tower from one angle or getting the building repurposed and back into use asap? We should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

The imperative is to get the old Clock Tower back into business as a functioning building, breathing new life into the historic downtown.


Of course, this won’t be easy or straightforward. The Committee of Adjustment has concerns about the adequacy of the parking provisions, particularly overnight parking. I can easily imagine the library spaces being poached by people going to functions at the new hotel. 

Unusually, the Town’s engineers have not commented on parking issues, deferring to the planners who, in turn, have contracted the work to an outside planner. I am told the in-house planners are overstretched and busy with other planning applications. But passing the buck like this sometimes happens when the in-house planners are asked to do something they don’t want to do.

Clearly, the Town is fast-tracking this development.

But after a decade in the doldrums, why not?

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