Lone councillor back's Piper's waterfront plan

10th August 2019

Cr Harrison, who was the only councillor to vote against the plan to pursue a mixed-use development on Bath Street last year, says the public criticism has reached a point where council needs to "take a step back" and have "some discussion" in a "rational way". 

"Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and step back and say, 'whoops, maybe we need to step back and re-look at this'," she said on Friday. 

"Council prides itself on community consultation ... but I think they've really let the community down on this particular issue."

Cr Harrison's comments come after Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper revealed a possible alternative plan for the site and called for council to scrap its development. 

Mr Piper expressed concerns that councillors "making the decision were only given a very limited set of options to consider". He unveiled concept plans, featuring an amphitheatre, to stimulate discussion about other options for the site.

A former Lake Macquarie mayor, Mr Piper said the council needed to "listen to what the community is telling them" and consider "what they will leave future generations of the Toronto area" by pushing ahead with the development. 

Cr Harrison said she shared the state MP's sentiments and thought the project had been a "flawed process".

"What's been said to me is that this decision was made in 1984 [when the land was rezoned]," she said. 

"Well I don't think a decision was made for an apartment building in 1984. It was rezoned for tourism, but tourism can include many things and I don't think councillors have been given those options. We really need to go back and look at it in full."

The council voted to press ahead with the development last April, but critics of the plans have been vocal in their opposition since. 

A community meeting was attended by about 500 people, a petition of more than 5000 signatures was presented to council, and the Toronto Foreshore Protection Group has made freedom of information requests for information about the project's cost, scope and size. Although there is some support of the project.

The Newcastle Herald sought comment from the council on Friday in response to Mr Piper's concept plans. Staff said Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser was unavailable for comment.

Cr Fraser previously told the Herald the development would stimulate activity.

"We need more business here in Toronto, and we need more jobs ... this development will provide some of that," she said. 

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