I was on the phone this morning with an individual who is looking to put two large residential rental towers in the middle of designated employment land that are not yet serviced. Naturally, the municipality did not like this idea. Who’s surprised?

This site is located about 500m across the road from a power centre. It is currently home to a farm. The road is a major arterial road, which has been meticulously landscaped with planted medians and utterly vacant bike lanes. The power centre houses every major tenant you could ask for in a small town. You can do 99.9% of your shopping at this power centre. Chances are you won’t do 99.9% of your shopping there, because this municipality is located in the GTA, and therefore, it has Amazon Prime. No judgment here. I’d rather hangout in my underwear than go to Walmart, too.

Have you ever driven through one of those towns where it’s super clear they got really confused during their retail renaissance? Let me take you there:

You’re driving down a main road that’s more well-maintained and well-designed than any street you’ve ever been on. To your left, there are gorgeous, new-age plazas designed to look like an old Intrawest Village. There are faux second-storeys everywhere. They may be trying to set a Guinness World Record for number of black bricks used. Floor-to-ceiling glass. All the signage matches. You can’t see the hundreds of cars parked because the retail facades are right up close to the road you’re on. There are pergolas. Trees. Tables and benches with nobody on them.

To your right, there is a few thousand acres of corn planted, a drainage pond, and 40-50 cows filling the air with that fresh smell of country. Drive a little further and you see a few houses that were purchased in assembly by a speculative investor who left them empty so that your local high-school punks could use them for their Krylon art experiments. Your friend Karen offered to replace the investors’ garage door so that you’d never have to see “Chad sux” again on your morning commute. You pass a small acreage where the resident is very fond of vehicles of a certain patina, and seems to be burning every by-law complaint letter they’ve ever received in an oil drum on the front yard.

You see a sign up ahead…

Thank you for visiting “Drive until you qualify”, Ontario – have a nice day.

Onward & upward to repeating the same process as every other municipality, build a steel frame “employer”, house a few zombie corps, and tear it down in 10 years.

Leave a Reply