GREENSTONE, Ont. -- The year-and-a-half planning of a waterfront hotel in Geraldton has come to an abrupt end.
At a recent town council meeting, a motion that would have re-zoned parkland to allow for the commercial development was defeated, which put a halt to the waterfront development.
Before its defeat, Greenstone mayor Ron Beaulieu, a major proponent of the project, saw the hotel and waterfront development as the crown jewel of Geraldton's shift into the tourism industry. That shift was believed to be instrumental to host workers in the mining sector, and viewed as essential to the region’s vision as a gateway into the Ring of Fire.
Greenstone’s strategic plan, economic develop studies, the Invest in the Greenstone report, and the Accommodations Needs Study all called for the development. The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and the Northern Growth Plan also supported the plans.
Council’s package of support included letters from mining companies, airlines and the Geraldton District Hospital. All the waterfront development proponents believed they would benefit from the increased traffic the hotel might bring.
But existing hoteliers from Geraldton and Longlac, who drove more than 60 kilometers to Nakina to speak strongly against the rezoning, did not share the vision of the proponents.
Instead, the hoteliers argued their occupancy rates couldn’t handle increased competition.
The municipality of Greenstone is made up of less than 5,000 residents from seven towns strung across a landmass twice the size of the Greater Toronto Area. Beaulieu says structural problems from the forced amalgamation in 2001 continue to challenge its council. Policies that may benefit one part of the community are often viewed as detrimental to others.
Despite hoteliers leading the charge that shifted council to vote against the motion, none were willing to speak on the record about what the victory means to them.
(Jon Thompson, TBT News/ Northwest Newsweek)