Plan B - a citizens group wants major input into the design of the Waterfront Hotel re-development. They don't want to see the waterfront getting treated the way they think Brant Street has been treated.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 15, 2017



Well – we now know that there are going to be high rise – 23 floors plus – in the downtown core. That got decided at a defining city council meeting on Monday evening.

Ten years from now the city will look a lot different.

There is one development issue that could be even more critical to the development of the city, the look and feel of the downtown core.

Site aerial

The Waterfront Hotel as we know it today is on the left – the red patch of excavation on the right is where the Bridgewater is being built.

The city planners are currently working their way through a study of the re-development of the Waterfront Hotel property.

When the owner of the Waterfront hotel, Darko Vranich let the city know that he wanted to increase the density  and add some height to the land there was an agreement struck that the city would hire people to come up with some design ideas. Three teams of designer/thinkers were to be assembled; two would work with the city – a third would work with the developer. And the developer would pay for all three studies.

A group of citizens have decided they are going to insert themselves into the process in a significant way. Several of the group live in the Lakeshore condos and they don’t want to see their part of the city go to the dogs.

No petitions from these people. They are hard core and they have done their homework and are putting ideas on the table.

The starting point.

Waterfront site

The site that is being re-developed is shown in dark blue – with a rendering of what the Bridgewater development will look like relative to the Waterfront Hotel.

The city has taken the public through an intensive community engagement process – all the meetings took place in the downtown area – what the people in Headon, the Orchard, Palmer and Alton think about what happens to the Waterfront Hotel property isn’t being recorded.

After a number of sessions where ideas were set out as sketched and then produced as rough models and made public.

The process started with three possible designs put forward: Two came from the city planning department and a third from the developer.

The Plan B people were not impressed – they came out with an idea of their own while the city produced what they called an “emerging concept”.

Let’s see what these all look like.

The early design concepts:

Concept 1

This is the first concept that came out of the Planning department. It shifts the focal point of the site from Brant Street to John Street.


Concept 2

This is the second concept that came out of the Planning department. It keeps Brant Street as the main road into the property but moves the towers to the eastern side of the property. Twenty and 30 floors was a surprise.


Concept 3

This is the design that was submitted by the property owner. It uses John Street as the entrance to the eastern end of Spencer Smith Park. The massing is to the east and west of the property. The suggestion that 40 storeys was acceptable has made many people gulp.

What the Planning department made of the three concepts.

City preferred

The Planning department took the three concepts and what they liked from all the designs that came out of the community workshops and have given the public what is being called Planning Department’s Emerging Preferred Concept. The concept doesn’t suggest any building heights. The concept does make both Brant and John Street entrances. to the Park.

Not so fast say the Plan B people – more public space please and lower your sights on the height while you are at it.

Plan B rendering

The Plan B people saw it all quite a bit differently. They wanted far more space at the foot of Brant street and have the Pier show cased .

All this goes to a city meeting on November 28th.

There is an opportunity to do something spectacular – but it is going to take a city council that decides not to make the mistake made in 1995 when what is now the Bridgewater development decision was made.

What is interesting is the way many of the Waterfront Hotel re-development designs snuggle up to what is going to be the Marriott Hotel and the seven story condo at the foot of Elizabeth Street.

There are a lot of people who want to keep the quiet quaint feel of the downtown core.  There isn’t going to be anything quaint about the waterfront five to six years from now.  It could end up being very smart looking, swift, hip and cool.  But getting to that point will be a painful process.

Related new stories:

Part 1 of a multi part series.

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3 comments to Plan B – a citizens group wants major input into the design of the Waterfront Hotel re-development. They don’t want to see the waterfront getting treated the way they think Brant Street has been treated.

  • James

    Call me crazy, I prefer Concept 3. If I were to live downtown, that’s exactly the sort of complex I’d love to live in.

  • Ron Porter

    Plan B is an EXCELLENT alternative that expands green space & window to the lake while enabling developers a reasonacle density. So Why Can’t our City Planners have such Logical Foresight and LISTEN to the Taxpayers who pay their Salaries ??

  • Walter Mulkewich

    What was the mistake in 1995 re what is now Bridgewater?