Well, well, it seems that people are starting to pay attention to things being discussed at Parry Sound Council meetings. A little late, but perhaps not too late. The Royal Banks planned relocation is an issue raised on this site a couple of weeks ago. That’s why you subscribe to parrysounds.com isn’t it, to find out what’s before Council before a decision is made and you are aren’t left with scrambling to get decisions reversed? (I’m thinking about you, Fluddites.)
Well the Parry Sound Mall owners finally seem to have realized that one of its tenants, the Royal Bank, is asking for a special exemption from the Town’s Official Plan restricting banks to the downtown core, to allow it to move up the Walmart plaza. The nub of the Mall owners’ concerns is contained in a letter to the North Star that is a pleasure to read. It’s an argument that I would have been proud to have penned (actually keyboarded).
I’m neither in the real estate or banking business so I don’t have a position on this decision, but I do have an interest in consistency and transparency. Allowing the bank, which was permitted to operate outside of the downtown for unusual reasons, to relocate would seem to be at odds with the Town’s Official Plan. Why have a plan if you intend to consistently allow exceptions and exemptions? If rules can be broken, then there effectively are no rules. Businesses depend on knowing what the rules are, and that they will be consistently enforced. They don’t want to invest in a Town where they effectively get punished by following the rules while others don’t.
If Council allows the Royal Bank to move then I think it should in good conscience amend the Official plan to permit banks, bars and booze retailers to locate to any part of Parry Sound, not just the downtown. That would eliminate any need for an Economic Development Officer. It would be a free-for all. And if I were sitting in the Seguin town office I would be seriously thinking about how the municipality could put in just enough services to entice businesses to locate along the Oastler Park Drive corridor just across the Parry Sound Town line. With Seguin property taxes about one-third that of Parry Sound’s, it would be an easy sell for retail expansion.
Life offers many slippery slopes and the Royal Bank relocation seems to be sitting on top of one that may be much steeper than Parry Sound Council and Staff realize.
Who needs reality TV when you can watch small town politics with a front row seat? I’m looking forward to the next installment of Parry Sound Council. It will be live next Tuesday at the Town Hall, with reruns later in the week on Cogeco (if they show up).