Charlie Teljeur: Where do we go from here?
|By Charlie Teljeur - Contributing Writer | March 2, 2017
So, if we learned anything from the recent rejection of a proposal by developers to put a gas station beside the Tim Hortons in Haliburton it’s this: we’re running out of room.
As funny as that might be to hear in an area such as the Highlands with so much perceived ample space, it’s true. While there were a number of conditions that weren’t met by the developers, it’s essentially the lack of space that’s the main problem. The property was just too small and congested to have that kind of development on it. When’s the last time you heard about space being a problem in Haliburton County?
The thing is, this is going to become more and more of a problem for us going forward. You’re likely aware of how crowded the area’s lake frontage is getting and the same goes for most commercial property in the bigger centres such as Haliburton and Minden, although to be fair, Minden faces a different sort of problem.
Let’s look at Haliburton first. Regardless of how you slice it, the basic problem is not the lack of space downtown, it’s the lack of commercial space downtown. If you look at how the village is spread out you see pockets of businesses starting east of West Guilford all the way west of Haliburton. If you don’t think it’s kind of odd you probably have never been asked by a tourist for directions to Sears or the Beer Store. It’s almost like a bomb went off and the businesses were blown to different sides of the village. No one is really to blame for the current malaise, it’s just that businesses are opening up faster than commercial property is. Case in point: the “other” gas station development set to take place out near Pinestone. Needed? Probably. Convenient? Hardly.
Minden on the other hand, has a different problem. Fortunately they have ample room. Highway 35 has seen to that. Minden’s problem is that it’s essentially two towns. You have your downtown core and then you have the enterprises lining the highway, which has caused a sizable migration of businesses out that way. Essentially you rob Peter to pay Paul. One area develops while the other area suffers meaning that fewer travellers are driving through the Minden bypass into the village. Why would they?
All of this goes to highlight how the various municipal councils need to have intelligent long-term plans on how to absorb future business development. Minden has the tenuous balance of making both roadways viable while Haliburton pretty much has to look at expropriating land or at least encouraging some of the village residential areas to be converted to commercial space. While some of us out there might consider this notion to be ruining the inherent charm of the area, we really have no choice if we want to encourage commerce in the area. Either that or you’re going to be driving for 20 minutes just to get a milkshake.
Charlie Teljeur is a contributing writer for The Highlander.